Promises are Meant to be Broken Not

Dejection, disappointment, frustration – these are just part and parcel of lives. However, within this two years of my life, I have been encountering them probably on a weekly basis on average.

It all begins with my photography journey, from a total rookie to a confident photographer who has a portfolio solid enough for models and clients to approach me regularly.

Sometimes, people will ask me how I have managed to find so many models. I will tell them honestly that every beginner has to approach his friends or pay for freelance models, and when people start seeing nice work from him, they will approach him instead. Unfortunately most of the new portraiture photographers who can afford to pay for freelance models are mostly into sexy hotel kind of shoot and thus their skill is more difficult to be improved since they have to think with two heads during every shoot.

Only experienced portraiture photographers can understand the hardship I have gone through all these while. For every 10 potential or cannot-make-it models you approach, depending on your personality and popularity, probably three will be discussing enthusiastically with you. However, out of the three, two will promise to “get back to you” once they have gotten their schedule. The final one is quite likely to postpone the shoot once somehow.

Even after I have started taking projects from clients, I would still need to look out for potential models to collaborate for themes that no good-looking client will be paying for, partly for marketing purposes. There are also some friends whom I wish to take nice photos and do good write-ups about them. Model-wannabes of all shapes and looks have been approaching me. With all the friends and model-wannabes who have talked-about-heaven-and-sea with me, it is no surprise that I have been facing huge number of empty promises.

“No matter how often people are breaking their promises to me, I would never play the same game to hurt others.”

Some people say “promises are meant to be broken” but I will never agree with it; this theory is simply from people in despair and I uphold my principles till this day.

Also, I have this good friend telling me that those people who have promised me anything are nice enough to have promised me, which I have to disagree. If you are not interested in something that can benefit you as well, do not waste time and then cause more severe disappointments.

Of course, how many people still keep promises nowadays? The very few losers.

Spread the Love – October 2014

- My wrist rescuer
It had been long since I injured my right wrist due to an event shoot for JGC and the injury gave me problems during my Sunday volleyball games. I started by using my old wrist guard but it was bulky enough to prevent me from playing. Desmond lent me his wrist band and it helped a lot during the game play even though it was not as strong as mine. When I told him it was difficult to get the wrist band, he tried helping me to get one as well.

– Birthday came early
Gilbert asked me to go downstairs my house to pass me something. At first, I thought it was a souvenir from overseas since he had just returned from his holidays. After meeting him and receiving the small item, he told me it was because he was going overseas again the following week. It took me a few minutes to realise it was my birthday present.

The present was a piece of magnet with my photo on it. It was a brilliant gift, which I could do it for other friends in future. However, it also made me feel so guilty and helpless that I was not able to think of anything creative in return for him.

Spread the Love – September 2014

Since my younger brother was working under MOE, he was able to get free passes to some local tourist attractions. Each time, he was able to get only four passes though. He took my family and I to River Safari, and paid for the extra ticket and lunch. It was the effort to arrange everything that was really tough.

It was Geraldine’s birthday celebration. I was not very keen in taking up this shoot initially because she was busy with her school and thus replied me quite slowly. However it would be my greatest regret if I had given it up. The party was filled with nice and cute people. Eventually, her mum gave me extra money when she saw my effort. I felt very appreciated.

During my corporate shoot for JCL shipping group, I was greeted by very friendly people as well. During the first night when I knew none of the participants, one of the guys, Peter, kept asking me to put down my camera and grab some food by the side of the pool. At the end of the shoot, Peter got me a glass of beer. On the following day when their conference began, I realised he was the president of the group.

On the last night of the JCL shoot, one of the participants from Sri Lanka, Sunil, passed me a National Geographic magazine. He told me he got it free from the hotel room because he knew I loved photography. Even though he did not pay for the magazine, it was really nice of him to specially bring along to the Gala dinner and give it to me.

I had my worst period of the year – reservist. Not only I had to delay my photoshoot with my models, I also had to turn down clients for event shoots. It was totally a time-wasting period for me. Luckily, I had great company over there and the instructor, Liangwei, was one of the nicest guys I had met. Liangwei was very patient and understanding and he took care of us well.

Spread the Love – August 2014

For the early morning bikini photoshoot with Esther and I roped Gilbert in since he was a creative person. He did research over the net to find poses of models and even printed them out. Even though my actual plan was to do a more natural lifestyle shoot instead of model posing (because Esther was completely new to modelling and we did not have a makeup artist involved), Gilbert’s instruction to pose did help a lot. To find a friend who would sacrifice so much time and effort was rare.

I did a couple portrait shoot for Michael and Valerie with fireworks as the background. It was my first time doing this kind of shoot, which was rare but Valerie trusted me. They hosted me well in their home and shared their precious wine with me. Both of them even invited me over for a second time on the actual National Day.

I forget to bring my tripod along for the second shoot with my favourite couple as mentioned above. It was crazy for night shoot would definitely require the stability. Even though I turned up early and my house was a few bus-stops away, it was too rush for me to get home. I called Samuel immediately and he gladly prepared his tripod stand for me. I dashed over a few buildings to collect it from him. He saved my night.

I initially had a photoshoot with a girl who had approached me. She wanted to do it at an indoor location. ET’s dad gladly agreed to lend me his house. Eventually, the girl went missing-in-action as expected.

I had a photoshoot with Claire. The outfit was meant to be more revealing and thus it was definitely sensitive to a girl. For my usual fashion shoot, some of the models would bring along an escort in the name of “a curious friend” who wanted to watch how a photoshoot was done. So far, none of the “assistants” was really helpful. Besides putting pressure on me, it was a great insult to my professionalism. I appreciated the trust from Claire who went alone for such sensitive theme. She was not a bimbo who would not taking precaution – she did research online about me before approaching me. Besides not treating me as a pervert, I was glad that she did not waste my time like many other girls. I was really amazed because the way she chatted with me made me feel she was not that keen in having a shoot. Claire had indirectly enlightened me that I should not be pinning too much hope on girls who approached me with great enthusiasm.

I had a great gathering with the volunteer gang at Nancy’s place. Nancy hosted us well again. Other than this, she had also agreed to lend me her place for photoshoot, even though our available dates did not match.

Spread the Love – July 2014

My younger brother and I were using the same phone – Samsung Note 2. He was an explorer of a few local online shopping sites and when he bought his “unbreakable” screen protector, he got one for me too. It was a selfless act, especially when he did not expect me to pay him back, which I did together with the monthly bills payment.

I started to understand the limitation of my Canon 430 EX-II and thus I knew I had to invest in a better flash unit. When I tried to buy a Canon 600 EX-RT, Stephen, instigated by Samuel, offered to lend me his Canon 580 EX-II. He was such a nice and honest guy who was ready to lend his friends all his equipments.

The flash power of Canon 580 EX-II and Canon 600 EX-RT were almost similar, except that Canon 600 EX-RT had Canon’s radio receiver built-in and the buttons were better designed. If I were to buy a new piece, I would choose Canon 600 EX-RT for its value would stay longer. Whereas for second hand unit, both were fine to me and of course Canon 580 EX-II would be much cheaper. However, I was quite scared of getting bad second hand unit, which I probably would not be able to find out the fault until using it.

My dad’s youngest brother (my uncle) suddenly messaged me in Facebook and asked me if I had received his SMS. At first I thought he was looking for me for some urgent matters. He had actually sent the SMS to my old number, which was not in use since many years ago. Anyway, he was asking me if I had bought my new camera. He promised me to split the cost of a new camera with me during last December when I borrowed his house for a Christmas theme photoshoot. I felt too pampered and thus did not talk to him over it after that day. I had actually forgotten about it after I used my saving to buy my new Canon 6D camera and Canon 24-70mm F2.8 II lens.

I told him I would need a stronger flash unit like Canon 600 EX-RT at the moment and he wanted to get it for me. Even though we were blooded family members, I did not get to meet him often, except during Chinese New Years and I thought I did not deserve such expensive gift from him. I supposed my dad had been “borrowing” money from him long time ago when he was still alive and if that was real, they were definitely bad debts. Lastly, I was also hoping I would be able to earn through photography to purchase the necessary equipments on my own. The struggle within me was torturing. Eventually, I decided to take this “shortcut” by accepting the offer from my uncle. I supposed I would also cherish the new flash unit better if it was a gift.

I thought it was a good chance to meet up with my uncle and auntie to get the new Canon 600 EX-RT flash unit together but they were too busy. To me, it was weird but he offered to do a bank transfer over instead. He got my auntie to do it on the next day and there was even an excess of money, which would help me to get a much needed external harddisk as well.

Spread the Love – June 2014

About a week after Shujuan returned from her OCIP trip, we met up for photoshoot. Actually, I wanted to try playing with different angles of light but she was too exhausted. Eventually, I felt bad for occupying her time when she was already so tired after meeting up with friends daily till late hours.

Max roped me in for an event shoot for PassionArt and he gave me some pointers after the event. He shared many things with me like as if I was a newbie and that really helped because I got to learn quite a couple of new things from him. Learning by myself resulted me in knowing things “here and there” and sometimes not complete. He told me my basic skill required improvement and eventually, I was very frustrated because I was not sure what else I would need to learn other than to practise more.

My light stand’s bag was torn and my mum helped me to fix it. The joints were actually very thick and it was not an easy sewing job. In fact, my mum had always been helping my family to fix and alter things like clothes and bags.

Gilbert tried hard to meet me for a swim at the Amara hotel, which had tied up with Fitness First to share its swimming pool. So far, he had brought me to visit all the swimming pools of Fitness First as he could bring a friend along during weekends. I was speechless with having such good buddy who would only think and sacrifice for me, trying to please me all the while.

Compliment for Canon Staff

More than two years ago, I wrote a compliment letter for a Canon staff but their website was giving problems and thus I didn’t get to submit it.

I called the service hotline at 12 plus just now and was received by a very well-mannered lady with an extremely sweet local voice. I didn’t get her name clearly but it was something like “Lorraine”.

I was actually calling to check if I could get a replacement for “my” camera len’s cover. I was actually doing on behalf of my friend.

When she heard that I had lost my len’s cover, she responded immediately in a natural sympathizing tone. I was very pleased to be received by someone who placed herself in customer’s shoes.

She immediately gave me a solution by re-directing me over to the showroom’s hotline to check for availability of stock.

She, in fact, did not do much during the short conversation; however, her attitude had actually made a big difference.

I think good customer service would make a big difference in my decision to choose the brand when I need a new gadget in future.

Thank you for reading this.

Sick of Being Sick

I had suffered a long and serious illness for the past month. It did not come as a surprise for I had been warned three months before that. During that period, I had sore throat before I slept but I always woke up feeling normal. It happened for quite a number of time and I guessed that I was saved by taking a tiny bit of manuka honey every night. However, there was also an obvious symptom – my scalp was growing acne and it was irritating.

My body had been “heaty” since young and thus I would fall sick often. I was no fan of food but I most preferred western food, fast food and just any fried food. I had been resisting them throughout my life because they made me fall sick very easily.

However, for this year, I was rather rebellious and did not practise self control. Other than taking fast food numerous times, there was a couple of times I took fried food like char kuey teow as my main course meal. My mum had also bought packet roti prata from the NTUC Fairprice for supper, which tasted quite good after frying them and she replenished it quite a few times. My mum’s porridge for lunch was rather healthy but not her dinner, which usually came with food like nuggets. I was very amazed with myself throughout the months before my body failed me.

As usual, it always started with sore throat, followed by cough and flu. I did not take my temperature but I knew I was having fever occasionally. Phlegm, blocked nose and ears were gifts from them and the worst thing was to bring down my energy. I was pretty slow in my work then.

The terrors did not leave me soon. They stayed faithfully with me for over a month. Doctor told me it was not that my body was weak, but I did not have enough rest. I had to agree.

I was badly disturbed almost every morning by my neighbour’s puppy who barked loudly for a few minutes. It was obvious that I did not sleep early and thus being woke up in the morning was a torture.

Resting during the afternoon was almost impossible with my sticky dog around. I had only two bedrooms and my mum barred Luckie from entering one and my sister-in-law did not like anyone to enter the other bedroom when she and my elder brother were not around. I could not leave Luckie alone in the living room because he would end up crying and barking so loudly that I would end up not able to sleep.

Since I was sharing bedroom with my mum and younger brother and both of them would “die” without switching the air-con on even when the weather was not very bad, I had to bear with it despite I was afraid of the low temperature. Flu was never tolerating.

While I was sick, I still had to continue with my daily administration work. It was not difficult at all but to do the same old time-consuming stuffs for the past few years was really sickening. Those boring work would not make me grow.

One of the most stressful things was to arrange for photoshoot. Things would be better if the parties I had to alias with did not give problems, and eventually, I had actually wasted my time and effort. I was all along very easygoing but some people might be fussier than me. Not everyone was very committed.

I had one of the most challenging tasks on hand, which was to update the website for my “xiao mei”. She had changed her webhost a year ago but did not migrate her files over. Somehow, she was lucky that her old files were still inside the old server and the host did not remove the files. I had to try log into both her new and old webhosts, and of course the latter did not work. In the end, I had to rip the source codes and other files from her own webhost and it included a flash file, which was calling other files. I spent a few days to fix everything for her. It was mind-blowing. In fact, she was not in a rush but I was just too determined and eager to solve her problems.

That week, I had promised to do an interior shoot for my cousin-in-law. During the first day, a Tuesday, he was astonished to see me turn up at the bar. I was wrecked by the full-equipment bags that I had carried all the way to the place when my body was so weak. He checked his phone and realised it was the correct date and time. The problem was that there were many staffs working there to setup the place as they were still in preparation for the opening the week after. Even one of the string of LED light was loosen and hanging around. We agreed to shoot during the next morning but he texted me a couple of hours before the shoot that the bar’s staffs would be there to work and thus we postponed to Friday. I had forced myself to wake up early over nothing. On Friday, I was smart enough to not bring my laptop along, in fact, there was no need to even bring my lighting along to the cramp place. The person holding to the key was not around and I had to wait outside the bar for around half an hour. Then, contractors continued to go in to fix things while the lady staff was cleaning things up. Many items such as fruits were laying around the bar counter and tables. The tables were not even in order. To conclude, it was a disaster for a photographer. I had to move things around by myself and even wiping the surfaces of the tables and it was impossible to even capture the widest shoot using my 24-70mm lens. I had to also wait for the staffs and contractors to move away before I could set the long exposure for my camera. It was one of the most horrible photoshoot I had ever done in my illness and I was not even satisfied with the angles and lighting.

The thing that had worsen my illness was the NUS TevaSUN beach volleyball competition on that Saturday. Each team consisted of five players, including one substitute. Tony, Gin, Bernard and his girlfriend signed up for it but Bernard had confinement at Palau Tekong and thus I was roped in. As the substitute who had to cover for Bernard, I had to be present so that our team would not be disqualified. I finished my TCM medicine (that was prescribed to me right before my illness turned for the worst) and I did not have time to get new medicine due to my interior shoot. Eventually, I took panadol and flu tablets to fight the virus. On the actual day of the competition, I was still very sick. Every time I tried to use my strength, I coughed badly. My head was heavy and I could not concentrate. I disgraced myself in front of all the girls. Right after showering, as I tried to blow to clear my nose, the mucus came out with blood. I knew it was not due to bruises inside my nose because I did not blow my nose hard. The situation was so bad that after I got home and tried to clear my nose again, the mucus dripped continuously for more than five seconds and it was bloody on my basin. I went to see the TCM doctor again and was lectured by her for not resting. For a week, the blood was a loyal companion. My illness took even longer to go away.

I was naive at times but at least I kept my words to everyone. I did my best but my best was far from even the level that I could accept for myself.

Spread the Love – May 2014

May 2014 was filled with loves from many people.

Kexin and I met up for a photoshoot. She was trying to help me with a jogging theme that I wanted to do since a year ago, however, she forgot to bring a top that we had discussed. She was also tired after her school and thus we decided to do a better one during her holidays. I felt I had made a few mistakes while the sunset was not as good as I had seen the past few times at Labrador Park. I was very touched by her objective, which was to help me.

My health was bad for the entire month and almost fell sick many times. There was once when I was a little down, I posted a status in my Facebook before going for my beach volleyball game. Christine called me immediately to ask me to visit the doctor. She had also messaged me a few times through Whatsapp to help me with my photography. I felt very blessed to have an ex colleague who was so concern about me.

During my dinner with my beach volleyball gang, which Shuwen happened to join us, she helped me to log into her Facebook account on my phone and helped me to invite her friends to LIKE my Facebook photography page. It was very nice of her to have helped me. Not everyone was comfortable to log into their accounts on other people’s phone.

My sister-in-law found a new job finally. She took the initiative to treat my family to a dinner at a new restaurant at Chinatown Point owned by chef Daniel. She needed not go to the expense but it was very sweet of her.

I initially had a sexy theme photoshoot with a model and thus I asked Shujuan to accompany me to become my “bodyguard”. However, the model postponed the shoot. Eventually, Shujuan met up with me on the actual day for a photoshoot at IKEA Alexandra, which I wanted to do since long ago. She was very creative and natural, and thus managed to help me get many nice photos despite the bad lighting since I could not set up my equipments without getting permission. She was also a very intelligent and good listener who managed to hold good conversations with me, making it a fantastic day for me.

Weitat organised two gatherings, helping me to meet-up with Mingfa and our favourite uncle and auntie, and also with our ex colleagues. Without him, it was difficult for me to get to see the wonderful people because I was too lazy and busy to organise any meet-up. For the first dinner, he had probably forked out quite a sum of money as well just to give the elderly a treat.

Tony initially formed a team with Gin, Bernard and Poh Hian to take part in the NUS beach volleyball competition. However, Bernard could not make it since he was in BMT and it happened to be his confinement week. Therefore, Tony roped me in. Unfortunately, I felt very sick. Tony went to buy mineral water for us before we went into Sentosa. It started pouring at the end of our game and he went to collect the goodie bags with Gin, asking Poh Hian and I to go to the shower rooms immediately to avoid the rain. Anyway, I played like shit during the game and disgraced myself in front of many girls.

Spread the Love – April 2014

Jiayu returned to Singapore for a few days and we had a small dinner gathering. Her dad passed her some money and instructed her to give us a treat before he left the restaurant. It was very kind of her dad for the expensive dinner treat. Her entire family had also supported and helped us in our voluntary work.

Weitat continued to be the hero to fetch and send many of us to and back from our Sunday volleyball sessions. Ever since we bought our own beach volleyball net, he had been taking care of them including the transportation, together with the two water bottles.

It was my mum’s birthday month and we were preparing to have a dinner with her. My sister-in-law surprised her by buying her a boutique of flowers. This kept my mum happy for a few days and she even dried the flowers up in order to keep them longer.