Interview – Kim Wong

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Kim Wong, I worked as a digital journalist with Channel NewsAsia. I’m Malaysian.

How did you get into the field you are in now?

A friend of mine told me there was an opening and they were looking for someone who was interested in telling stories. I came from a business degree background so I had absolutely no knowledge of production or journalism. But I was interested in photography and videography having done some on the side in university. So i basically showed them my instagram photos and a travel video I did up, they thought i had an eye visually and thats how I got the job.

What motivates you to keep doing what you do? 

That I was able to tell stories of ordinary Singaporeans and issues to a wider audience, and helping people be more aware of what is around us. It was accomplishing knowing how some stories were life changing and to be able to share that was motivating enough.

Could you imagine yourself doing any other job than the one you’re doing now?

Yes, the job scope was not just being a digital journalist but also at the same time we had to manage our social platforms and run a facebook page. Which means a business/marketing mindset in knowing what works and what does not too. So with that knowledge and background, I could go into social media marketing work and telling stories but from a business point of view.

If you could go back in time and do something differently what would it be?

I would have pushed myself more, in terms of getting out of my comfort zone, and honing better interview skills in getting out the best stories that I could. I could have challenged myself more as well in terms of the visual elements (shooting, camera angles etc) to tell a better story visually.

One piece of advice you would give someone starting out in the creative field?

Take in constructive criticism and learn from it. Don’t think that just because you have a great idea, it is a great idea and will work. No. You’re gonna have great ideas, and you’re gonna have stupid ideas that you feel the need to execute, but take a moment to look at things from a different perspective, talk to other people, and find out how those comments from others can help make your work better.

Kim can be found on Instagram @iamkimwong

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The Digital Photography Book – Scott Kelby

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book was one of the first books that I read as an aspiring photographer, and was definitely one of the best. Originally published in 2006, over the years it has been updated and revised as well have new books added to the series. As of the time of writing, there are 5 volumes available, each continuing where the previous book left off.

The idea behind the books is to explain concepts easily, without too much technical jargon. This excerpt from Scott sums it up best.

“If you and I were out on a shoot and you asked me, ‘Hey Scott, I want the light for this portrait to look really soft and flattering. How far back should I put this softbox?’ I wouldn’t give you a lecture about lighting ratios, or flash modifiers. In real life, I’d just turn to you and say, ‘Move it in as close to your subject as you possibly can, without it actually showing up in the shot.’ Well, that’s what this book is all about: you and I out shooting where I answer questions, give you advice, and share the secrets I’ve learned, just like I would with a friend–without all the technical explanations and techie photo speak.”

The story set as if you and Scott are two friends out on a shoot. The books are broken down into several chapters, each focusing on a certain type of photography, i.e. weddings, sports, landscapes, portraits, etc. Each page within the chapters presents a particular tip or technique, conveying it a simple, straight forward manner. It mostly avoids getting too technical, rather it simply focuses on what you need to do or what settings you need to change to achieve a certain kind of shot.

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Excerpt from The Digital Photography Book Volume 3 (Kelby, 2009)

The books are filled with Scott’s light hearted humor and puns. This serves to lighten the mood of the book, helping to turn it into a fun read instead of a textbook. This is what makes Scott’s series stand out from the other photography books out there. It’s fun.

Some key things that I learned from the books – 

  1. Holding the camera steady (Scott shared a technique about how to wrap the camera strap around your arm to achieve better stability.)
  2. Framing (Where to crop your portraits.)
  3. Perspective (Using a wide angle vs using a zoom to achieve very different effects)

Scott’s books are one of the best selling photography books in the world – and for good reason. If you’re a beginner just starting out in photography, these books will definitely help you learn what you need to know to capture better pictures. And if you’re a seasoned photographer, these books make a great read – and you might learn something new too.

part5cvrAt the end of each book Scott presents some of his photos and tells you exactly how he achieved that result. All of these and more, are compiled into volume 5 of The Digital Photography Book. So if you want to know more about how Scott shoots his subjects, and his exact thought process and workflow, book 5 is worth exploring.

The Digital Photography Books are available to purchase as physical copies or ebooks on Amazon.

References

Kelby, S. (2006). The digital photography book. volume 1: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Kelby, S. (2008). The digital photography book: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Kelby, S. (2009). The digital photography book: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! : Volume 3. Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press.

Kelby, S. (2012). The digital photography book, part 4: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit.

Interview – Mahesh Ravi

Mahesh Ravi is a Multimedia Generalist, currently residing in Bangalore, India. He works in various mediums, including photography, filmmaking and design.

Below is a short transcript of the interview. The full interview can be found at the bottom of this post.

How did you get into the field you are in now?

Since my childhood, I’ve been really interested in visual design. I’ve always wanted to study film design, but at that time I didn’t even know there was such a discipline. It was at that point I realized that I was an artist and wanted to do something really creative. The main reason I chose multimedia was the leverage I would be getting to work in mixed media, which I’ve always loved to do – and still do. I love the combinations of analogue and digital media, and combining film with an aspect of design, and photography with an aspect of typography.

What motivates you to keep doing what you do?

I think when you’re in this field, your motivation is what’s happening in the world around you. You’ll constantly be in touch with what your competitor is doing, what your friends are doing, what’s the latest in technology and art. It’s a very competitive world and if you want to be on top of something you need to continuously push yourself beyond your limits. It [motivation] can be anything, from a good piece of music or a good photograph.

Could you imagine yourself doing any other job than the one you’re doing now?

I can imagine myself in another title that’s not connected to the creative field, but I know for a fact I won’t be very good at that.

If you could go back in time and do something differently what would it be?

It’s very difficult to answer this question, because every artist who is constantly improving would want to go back and change something in a design or film that they’ve made. I can’t say one particular decision that I’ve made in my life, which I’d go back and change, it’s not my way of thinking about what I do. I’d rather use my time to focus on the future than thinking about changing the past.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do anything differently, I’d just take my camera, shoot a couple of scenes, come back and claim it as the most realistic and most authentic retro film ever made.

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One piece of advice you would give someone starting out in the creative field?

If you want to be in the creative field, no matter what discipline – it can be photography, design, film – it is really important that you get enough exposure about what’s happening in that particular media. Even before you start something, you need to have done some research on it. Keep yourself updated with what is currently happening in your field. Be very good observers and choose your artistic integrity wisely.

More information about Mahesh and his work can be found at his website.

The full interview can be found below.