Year 2015 – On the Verge of Breaking Down

Relationship

The most significant changes of the year was the removal of my “single” status. I was never ready to be grounded because reality was cruel and that money was as important as oxygen in Singapore; I didn’t want to take up responsibility that I couldn’t shoulder. Without money, I didn’t have time. For the past countless number of years, I had been alone not because I hadn’t met any nice girl, but because I wasn’t ready and thus didn’t take any action. In year 2015, while career was still vague, I still wasn’t ready yet.

As a photographer, I had countless interaction with pretty and hot girls. Most people would probably think that I was a typical superficial guy who would only go for “super model” type of girls with hourglass figure and flawless looks. Looks would fade but every aspect I loved about her would stay. She wasn’t my ideal type of girl by looks for I had always favoured the athletic build or “SYT” types of girls but her intelligence proved to be more tempting. Nobody could understand me more than her, although nothing and no one was perfect. She had also showed her thoughtfulness and tolerance towards me. Our communication was great and it was rare for anyone to achieve that with me. She had been my personal doctor and English tutor, displaying her excessive talents and appreciation for her imperfect boyfriend.

The biggest problem was that she was extremely clingy, which I liked, yet couldn’t afford to enjoy due to work. My mum often acted as if I was jobless, in fact, she treated any job without CPF contribution from a boss not a job. Therefore, the amount of time I had to spend on the two women was really killing me and sometimes I wished I could just give up on everything and laze around at home just to entertain both of them. There was a few times we got to meet each other for seven days straight. She was also a superwoman who could multitask and text me regularly. Work got piled up as my production rate declined badly. I couldn’t do some of my internet marketing work while I was forced to delay some essential tasks, such as posting my work within the golden hours. My private photographs taken with friends during outing would be delayed for many months before I could squeeze some time to work on them. Whenever she behaved like a little girl while showing her appreciation to me for doing some things, I felt more pressurized than ever for she was unintentionally expecting me to do even more when I had already pushed myself to the limit. Her optimism was a double edged sword for the positiveness would influence me; however, she took things far too easily, which differed from my style of doing things.

The journey to adapt to each other’s flaws proceeded beyond the end of the year.

Family

I continued to be the free receptionist of the family since I was at home most of the time. Everyone, except my mum, had been purchasing items online and the delivery-men would trigger the dogs’ (Luckie and the neighbour’s crazy dog) barking often. Salesmen, surveyors, flyer distributors and retired neighbours were culprits too. No matter how much you loved a dog, sudden loud barks would definitely make you “jump”. I was also abused by telephone calls from weird friends of my family even though everyone already had a mobile phone to attend to their friends. Luckie continued to bother me by waking me up with his barking and then pestering me either for food or to bring him down for a walk. My only break-time was when my elder brother reached home and until my sister-in-law went to sleep – Luckie would be locked out of the bedroom, which finally saw a change for the later half of the year. My mum would even call me just to check the location of anyone or if she had forgotten to switch any appliance off. Very often, she would also turn back to the gate after leaving home to ask me to pass her her forgotten items like mobile phone or keys. Instead of calling my mum directly, my elder brother would sometimes text me to tell my mum when he wasn’t coming home for dinner. Despite my mum would always go to my younger brother to seek help, nobody realised I was the one who had spent most time entertaining her since my elder brother would be inside the room whenever he was at home while my younger brother was not at home most of the time and slept before my mum got home from work. I was the one who had to listen to her grandma stories multiple times because she would tell me directly, loud over the phone to her many friends and then to my siblings. I even had to answer to my mum over any new or misplaced item in the house since I was home most of the time and she expected everyone to notify me everything. The list of problems was too long to be remembered. The perfect job of working from home was soiled badly, affecting the progress of my work.

The harmony was shaken a few times throughout the year in the low income family, having too many people squeezing inside a small house of two bedrooms. The biggest argument was about fairness. We spoke up our minds and finally, around five years since Luckie joined our family, my elder brother started allowing him to sleep inside the bedroom instead of bothering me at night when I was working.

My younger brother had his own way of pampering my mum that I totally couldn’t agree on, because it caused my mum to be extremely over relying on us while he wasn’t at home most of the time. My mum was often simply behaving like a kid and thus it was definitely more challenging. Being filial didn’t have to be overdone, even though most people would agree to over-pampering her since they didn’t know the full scenario. I was the quiet observer in my house who stayed at home most of the time and nobody knew what was going on better than me. I knew there should be a limit to everything and besides, I had my own limit too. To put it in simple words, I wasn’t as capable as my younger brother in term of money-making and I really sucked at it.

Friends

I owed a lot to Gilbert. He appeared most of the time in my monthly hero list. Often, I felt stressed for I knew I could never help him as much as how he had helped me, including all the small kind gestures.

The most depressing thing was when I tried to get back the money I lent to my old buddy years ago for his marriage, he suggested paying me back through installment but didn’t even make the first payment. I often recalled that time when he promised me to return me around two months once he received his salary, it dragged on for countless years without receiving any cent from him while his son was already three years old. The most ridiculous fact was I was probably the lowest income earner in our group of friends and I was the only one who lent him a hand. I felt betrayed and it caused me sleepless nights. I learned to be more careful with whom to help in future.

I made new friends through photography but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to meet up with most of my old friends. It was such a pity to drift away from friends who had been through a lot with me in the past. There were only a few volleyball games and thus I could only meet up with the guys once every few months.

Work

My tuition agency was giving me more headache than ever. Apart from the daily chores, I also had to build up on security for the website. It was endless trouble that most people wouldn’t know the effort and doing things behind the scene was making me feel helpless and unappreciated. The problem was that I could see many things had to be done but it was going to be a hell lots of work. All the automation and information would require time to work on, and yet without doing them, I would be doing some same boring stuff often. To sum up, the effort and time I had spent on the business overwhelmed the revenue. Eventually, it was years of effort that I couldn’t give up.

There was some slight improvement in my photography work but it didn’t make much difference though. The fund generated was not even sufficient to cover up the cost of buying the equipment. I couldn’t take up too many projects for the time I had to spend on post-production was too much. I spent more time on marketing than the actual shootings. Although I did meet many kind clients and nice models, I had also encountered many time-wasters online, in fact, more of the latter.

Fallback in Photography

I got badly slashed on the route to expand my photography portfolio when one of my younger brother’s friends showed her true colours. During the early days of my photography journey, she volunteered to collaborate with me for a couple shoot with her then boyfriend. As she was an educator and they were together for quite long, I didn’t anticipate any problem. I spent weeks to do professional post-processing work for the album and gave her ridiculously large amount of photos that would cost over three grands for the standard. Obviously, in the name of building a portfolio for couple shoot, it benefited the couple much more.

Unfortunately, they broke up a couple of years later and she asked me to remove the photos entirely because it would somehow hurt her whenever she got to see them, like as if she would even visit my portfolio. I explained to her professionally, including the fact that male and female models who didn’t know each other would take up couple shoot projects together. She probably knew the facts that I had the copyrights over the photos even though I didn’t raise the point, and she resorted in using bitchy lines to try to insult my professionalism. She was so disgusting that I could feel the chill deep inside my bones that I decided to take down the photos because having a bitch inside my portfolio would tarnish my reputation – not because I was afraid of putting my younger brother in a difficult position or what.

Alas, she got what she wanted, from the start, a free professional couple shoot which many young couple were dying for and yet couldn’t afford, and eventually, the removal of the professional work when she no longer thought they were useful to her. However, this spoiled brat had also displayed her true self – someone who could be very nice to friends during good days but could do anything to them if they were to go against her childish demands, especially during bad days.

It was a gigantic damage to me because the shoot covered three locations and I had been trying to do photoshoot in different parts of Singapore to add to my list of beautiful places in Singapore. I could persuade my clients to shoot at the same locations but every shoot would occupy weeks of my time and I could only take up a few shoots per month.

Another hurtful thing was some friends took pity of the bitch just because she broke up with her boyfriend, likely due to having different directions in life and definitely not due to any unfaithfulness. None had considered the effort and time I had put in for the entire album of over 70 professionally fully edited photos for the couple who didn’t have professional hairstyling and makeup on when the gentleman had quite bad complexion. The travelling around with the heavy photography equipment and the weeks of frustrating effort to produce the final work were taken granted for. Even the lady who had insisted me in doing commercial standard of editing photos was soft on the bitch. Even though at this point of time, my equipment and skill in photography had already far exceeded the quality of that album, the master pieces of work were already better than most of the outdoor pre-wedding shoot albums I saw in Facebook.

Finance

Despite doing freelance photography, the income generated from the shoots was entirely spent on equipment upgrades and replacement. My main income source was from the tuition agency, which could hardly cover my monthly expenditure. Dating put further pressure on me even though my girlfriend wasn’t the type of girl who would demand good food and branded stuff. From a near zero spending staying at home to having to spend for two people made a very big difference.

My younger brother unintentionally placed huge burden and pressure on me since years ago by upping the sum of contribution to the household. I had to turn down wedding invitations and I didn’t even want to renew the ridiculously expensive Singapore passport. Years of having extremely low income together with the high expenses was a torment to my brain. The most ridiculous thing was that my monthly contribution to the family and mum was a few times higher than the combination of my elder brother and his wife’s, while their combined income was a few times higher than mine. Their reason was they had to save up for their new house. Nobody had probably given a thought that I had to save up for marriage and to get myself a house, which I was dying for, in near future as well.

While my mum’s fiance health was extremely good with the extra contribution from my younger brother, nobody seemed to know what she had been spending the money on other than lottery. Often, when I came to know that she had bought useless things after being conned by strangers or friends, I would feel very upset because I couldn’t even bear to pay for some essential things for myself; even when I had to carry 18 kilograms of bulky equipment out for work, I would rather risk injuring or over-exhausting myself than to spend money on cab.

I didn’t know how I managed to survive as there were months that I had to “eat into” my saving.

Volleyball

Weitat organised and paid for using the indoor court at the OCBC Arena a few times. However, my shoulder and feet injuries (could be plantar fasciitis) made me a cripple during my last two games with them. It was terrible to feel the pain before I could even take off to do spiking. I couldn’t jump to my usual height and even if I could reach the peak, my shoulder injury forbid me from doing the swing to hit the ball. It was pretty useless to explain about my conditions when everything I said was treated as an excuse, or at least I didn’t appreciate much of the sarcasm.

Alas, I was also quite unlucky that I was always placed in the same team as one of the most competitive and inconsiderate guys. He played as the setter most of the time and I didn’t get to spike even when I was playing as the main spiker. When I was lucky, he had no choice but to set the ball to me, which happened at most twice during every set of game out of 25 points. Since it was a “no choice” situation, the ball was always delivered badly while I had already given up and thus unprepared. Playing volleyball under such situation killed my confidence. Besides, he was quite a show-off and decided to waste lots of opportunities by dropping the second ball over, as if he had a high scoring rate. Of course, I didn’t voice out since I didn’t want to make anyone feel stress or awkward over such leisure games. I hated being there just to make up the number although my main motive was to spend time with them.

Health

I got seriously ill for only a couple of times, which was much better compared to the previous years. However, more injuries plagued me as it further affected my mood for the worse. My right shoulder and feet injuries were the main devils while my girlfriend was able to reduce the pain of my back injury with her skill learned from a Taiwanese physician. She also brought me to a Chinese physician at Ang Mo Kio who further eased the pain caused by my back injury. I felt weak as all the injuries restricted my freedom of movements.

2015 was certainly one of the worst years ever. I was mentally stabbed and robbed of my calmness and patience. There were many lessons to learn from and the most important thing was become stronger and not give in to shit.

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 – January 2014

In the process of upgrading my photography equipments to do better photography, I was kind of being conned to buy a super over-priced second hand lens by a very good (in skill) salesman who took advantage of my softness. This guy simply played hard with words and rushed me to buy his old lens without detailed checking. He kept asking me to take photos and look at the result through the small LCD screen at the back of my camera instead of checking the quality of lens. The greatest trick of his was to arrive late and behave like as if he was in a bad rush.

Eventually I went to my favourite camera shop at Funan Centre – John 3:16. Samuel and Steven helped me to look at the lens, which I felt so uncomfortable purchasing and they verified that the lens had been badly abused before. Samuel gave it a 4/10 rating and Steven said 5/10, while the joker earlier mentioned 9/10. They showed me a second hand same model lens and I was devastated. At the rate my tuition agency was going, I would need more than a month to earn the money back.

There was a black particle, which was much larger than normal dust, inside the glasses that was not very easy to be seen without being guided by experienced users. Apart from that, there was dust inside. There were countless tiny scratch marks on the front of the lens, which could be caused by wrong wiping tool. At the back of the lens where it was supposed to be connected to the camera body, there was fungus. The turning of the zoom ring was unusually rough at certain focus distance. The external body was quite badly scratched as well – I didn’t mind the ugliness but I recalled that he told me the condition was 9/10, which made me feel very cheated (I was too soft at first). Anyway, he told me he had just sent the lens to Malaysia’s Canon for servicing and thus there should not be any problem with the dark particle, dust and especially fungus. Unfortunately, the result (photo) due to these problems would not be seen easily, unless by professional or being put under a test with the exact same model of lens.

To put it simple, the lens that was sold to me at $1180 could probably worth $600 or less. It required servicing from the manufacturer – Canon. The front glass with countless of tiny scratches would cost hundreds of dollars to be replaced. Overall, the scratches on the external part made the lens unappealing and it would definitely cost more than a hundred dollars to replace it. The lifespan of the lens was definitely going to be shorter than others’.

After being persuaded by the two heroes, I tried hard to refund the lens. I spoke to the joker professionally and told him that I looked up to him as an honest seller and I had bought the lens in a rush all because of him. Eventually, I took the pain to go to his place and had to meet him up again on the next day to get back my money. If he had not returned me my money, I would have made him famous online. There were many reasons to believe he had made numerous lies during the entire process and I would write a detailed story about it in my photography website’s Tips on Buying Second Hand Camera and Equipment in Singapore page to “save” others.

I did my first ever couple shoot with David and Michelle. They didn’t mind being my “guinea pigs”. Apart from gaining the experience of shooting couple, I tried a different style of shooting. David was an observer and Michelle was a happy-go-lucky kind girl, and it was really great to use them as models to try my first shoot with less pressure. Apart from having limitation with my equipments – lack of sharpness and wrong auto focusing – the quality was quite decent. We had a fun day together and they insisted to treat me to dinner.

Right before Chinese New Year, Meifeng took time out to have a cheongsam shoot with me. She had been working overtime for almost every weekday and had her church commitment during weekends. Thus, she took great effort to spend the day with me. Unfortunately, renovation work, new year decoration and early campers spoiled my planned shoot at Chinatown. I could have recce the location a few days before the shoot. Nevertheless, I had a great day out with her.

Fake Friends

The feeling of people ignoring your texts and festival greetings, and only return to you when they need help is bad. Would you consider them as your friends?

How about someone who spams you to LIKE certain photo for a Facebook competition and becomes hibernate when you ask for a return favour to LIKE yours?

They are lower-grade than hi-bye friends.

If you have met such people, don’t bother to get angry because they are just everywhere. Nevertheless, they do give you the assurance that they are not worth much of your time. Skip them and spend your time on better people.

Ridiculous After-Sales Service from Gain City

I purchased a front-loading washing machine (brand Electrolux) from the Gain City fair at EXPO on 1st November 2013. The order number was SORCS-80050274.

The salesman, Gary Kee, from the Elextrolux booth was very approachable and with the information given, we chose the brand despite there were quite a number of cheaper alternatives for the same basic specifications.

My family was in need of a washing machine badly to replace our spoiled one and thus we got the earliest delivery appointment, which happened to be on 5th November 2013 in between 4-7pm. The old washing machine had caused quite a big dispute among my family. The urgency was the reason why my mum and I had rushed down to the fair on its very first day.

On the delivery day itself, the delivery-man (phone number 93847140) called me at 12.19pm and said that he would reach my place at 1.30pm, which was a few hours earlier than the scheduled time (4-7pm). I thought it would be good for my side since we could use the machine earlier to clear the days of unwashed clothes and I gladly agreed. I changed my personal plan in order to receive them at the amended timing.

Two Malay men arrived at around 1.30pm to clear my old washing machine and fixed up the new one fast. Since I thought Gain City was a big company and that Electrolux was an old brand, I did not do thorough checking. Besides I was also not familiar with washing machine since I had not even used my old one. I played a good host to the two gentlemen and even offered them packet drinks before they left.

Earlier on during the purchasing day, despite repeated prompts from us, the salesman insisted the wasted water release hose that was routed upwards and clipped on the top corner could not be detached. Since we had been using top-loading washing machine all along, we were totally clueless about the system of front-loaders. We were shocked but glad when the delivery-men detached the hose from the corner of the new washing machine, such that the hose was long enough to be dragged into my bathroom, which also meant that my mum had wasted her effort and money to purchase a hose extender. It seemed that the salesman had given us a silly wrong information (he was right actually – read on to find out why).

The nightmare came right after the delivery-men left. We tried using the new washing machine by pouring detergent in and we realised the compartment could not be closed fully. We were told by the salesman that water would be splashed into the compartment to load the detergent into the main compartment, and logically thinking, the detergent compartment had to be closed fully if we did not want any water to spill out.

We tried calling Gain City but nobody picked up the phone. After some trying, I decided to contact the delivery-man who called me earlier instead. It was 2pm and just less than half an hour upon the delivery time. The man told me he was already at Bukit Merah – my location was Tanjong Pagar. I told him the problem of the detergent compartment and he insisted the washing machine was designed this way. As I insisted, the delivery-man promised to return.

My family (mum, sister-in-law and I) waited at home for the delivery-men until 6pm. Then, we called Gain City directly again and managed to get through. The staff helped us to arrange with the same delivery-men to return at around 7.30pm, which they did. After some reasoning with the delivery-men, they finally admitted it was a defect. One of them made a phone call (probably back to his office) and he claimed the product was perfect during delivery just because I had signed the paper to verify that I had received it. He also told the person over the phone that we had contacted him over the defect an hour later (it was definitely less than half an hour, inclusive of the time we had tried to contact Gain City directly).

Logically and obviously, the product arrived with the detergent compartment not able to be closed completely and the delivery-men had initially claimed it was designed to be that way. By insisting that the washing machine was built that way (“spoiled”) as it arrived, the delivery-men had indirectly admitted that it arrived as a defected product. It was stupid for them to point fingers at us just to get away with it.

I received a call from Electrolux (phone number 65078699) on the next morning (Wednesday) and was informed that the technician could only drop by my place on the next day. This means that if it happened that the defected washing machine had to be replaced (which we hoped), it would take more days for the new one to come.

Gain City could have replaced the new washing machine and settled the defected product with Electrolux directly. Eventually, the problem was pushed to Electrolux and we had to wait for Electrolux’s technician, who happened to be so busy that we had to wait until the third day.

If you were the consumer who had to waste so much time in order to get a proper washing machine, such that your household laundry could not be done for days, how would you feel?

These were the initial conclusions I had drawn from the entire incident:
– Gain City’s salesmen did not know their products well (I was wrong)
– Gain City’s delivery-men did not know their products well
– Gain City’s staffs would try all ways to push away their responsibility, inclusive of insisting defected products were designed the way
– Electrolux’s products were not as great as I had heard, such that their technicians were overloaded with servicing of their customers’ problems with the products

I was furious when I realised I had to wait for another day for the technician to come over. The thought of the blaming game forced me to email both Gain City and Electrolux to get advice whether there was any way I could get my new washing machine ready/fixed sooner than the next (third) day and if Gain City or Electrolux would send manpower down to hand-wash my clothes before the new machine was settled (sarcasm of course!).

I attached four images:

1. Phone log from my phone. The delivery-man arrived at around 1.30pm and I managed to contact them in less than half an hour upon they left, inclusive of the time I tried to contact Gain City directly. It was never as claimed by them that I contacted them about the defect after more than an hour.

2. The back of the washing machine. The salesman gave us the wrong information that the hose could not be detached from the back where there’s a screw (top left of photo). If the hose has to be routed from bottom to the screw part, it would not be long enough to be pulled to the bathroom to release the dirty water, and thus my mum had bought an extender.

3. Side view of the washing machine. This is the main problem. The detergent compartment cannot be closed completely and the delivery-men initially insisted it was meant to be like that.

4. Front view of the washing machine. Obviously, no designer would design the compartment to be not aligned with the main body when closed.

Gain City ignored my email but a gentleman from Electrolux called me directly to assure me that his technician would fix all the problems. Furthermore, he told me that the delivery-men from Gain City should not have detached the hose behind – the salesman was right after all.

Electrolux’s technician arrived as scheduled. He was a very friendly man around my age who helped to entertain my mum while he worked. He opened up the washing machine and hammered something inside to loosen the detergent compartment. He said one possible cause was that the washing machine was knocked during delivery. Then, he also attached the hose at the back, telling us that the water might flow out continuously if the hose was not placed at a higher place. He brought along a very hard hose to extend the existing one for us. Things were sweetened by the gentleman.

A week later, my mum noticed that the pail she placed besides the washing machine was filled with water. There was a few times when the floor was wet as well. It happened that all of us had used the washing machine during that period of time. We were all wondering if one of us had been forgetting to place the end of the hose to the bathroom while using it. After some inspections, we realised the hose attached to the tap was not properly joined by the Gain City delivery-men and thus some water was dripping.

Eventually, I could only conclude that the Gain City’s delivery-men knew nothing about their products. After sales service was disgustingly terrible. They did not even care to apologise for the problem they had caused.

My advice for all customers of Gain City is to make the delivery-men stay behind during the delivery to make sure the process of washing the clothes by the new washing machine is completed without any problem before signing any document to acknowledge receiving the product before “releasing” them.

Bad Encounters with Online Sellers in Singapore

For certain thing such as photography, your skill is restricted to your equipments. I may not be an excellent photographer yet, but I’m already being annoyed by the restriction, such that my full potential cannot be shown. My current camera bodies cannot give me the clarity of photos that I need to impress (to get businesses); my flash is not powerful and has limitation in rotation, and I need at least two of them for portrait photoshoot. Such restrictions can be neglected by playing around, but, at the lost of creativity. Therefore, I have been looking at refurnished (second hand) gears that I can buy at a cheaper price to move further in this trade – photography.

I have so far done three meet-ups and two are disastrous.

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1343429

Nickname: maxspeed
Name: Lum
Number: 93800867
Email: sugathlum@gmail.com

I saw this advertisement for a Canon 580 EX-ii flash and the owner made it sound like it was a very good bargain. Indeed, for the price ($400) and extra goodies that came along with it, it was a good grab given that the owner was honest about the condition.

I arranged a meet-up with him at Vivocity last week at 6.30pm. I went earlier to look at stuffs and at the meeting time, he replied me that he was still in a meeting and could not turn up. I told him I would wait for him for some time since I had to do some shopping. About an hour later, I had to leave since I had to packet food home for my elder brother and sister-in-law, and thus I dropped him another text politely. He did not reply me since he told me he was held up in his meeting, showing no sense of guilt.

A few days later, I saw in his forum post that he had sold his flash unit away. I would describe him as irresponsible and proud.

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1346875

Nickname: canonone
Name: Hua
Number: 9six5899one9 (96589919)

My next disappointment came after I saw a canon 24-70mm F2.8L mark i lens on the same forum. The seller insisted to meet at Ang Mo Kio and I made my trip all the way down, thinking it was a good bargain again since it’s written as “good condition and clean”.

The seller turned up earlier than the meeting time and I thought all was good. He started speaking in English and I thought he was an Indonesian Chinese who could not speak well in the language. At certain point of time, I could not figure out what he was talking about. When I noticed that there was problem with the lens and was discussing with Gilbert right in front of him, he suddenly started speaking in Chinese and I realised he was a PRC.

When I looked through it at the light, there were something like bubbles. The seller kept insisting his lens was in good condition though. It was obvious that there was a big issue with the glass of the lens at the part where it would fit into the camera, which was very unusual. I was not able to make out what those things were, but they were obviously not dust. I tried asking him to use a spectacle cloth to clean it but he insisted we could only use a blower, which I did not bring along. He was also quick to want to brush off the deal politely, which showed his guilt.

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1347448

I realised he posted a new advertisement on the same forum a couple of hours later. There differences were:
1. The price was reduced from $1200 to $1100.
2. “good condition and clean” description was removed.
3. Rating of condition was reduced from 9/10 to 8/10.

If he was not guilty of the condition of his lens, he would not have done these. The problem on the lens was definitely not dust, which could easily be blown and wiped off. To put it in simple, the lens was not even 1/10 for the condition – it could not be used at all.

I’m not sure if he is out to cheat.

68547070 Telemarketing Singapore Spam

Here you go, dear company of Singapore number 68547070. Thanks for waking me up and making me so sleepy throughout the day. I did not pick up your foreign talent staff’s call because I was expecting such call and I did not want to lose my temper.

I did a Google search for your number when I was fully up and I felt I was the smartest guy on Earth for I got it right. There were so many complaints about you online.

Let’s just wait for next year’s new law from IDA to be implemented and I will report you for sure if you continue to do such disgusting thing.

Let me highlight – NO, I’m not interested in any of your investment or insurance product. FULL STOP.

Note: I assume the caller is a foreign talent because most of these nuisance calls I have received are from either Indian or Pinoy so far.

Marketing is Most Important for Photography

After doing portrait photoshoot for nearly a year, I have to concede to the fact of the trade/hobby – marketing matters most. My experienced ex-classmate, Benson, has warned me a few times that the real photography work will take up just a small portion of time of most professional photographers.

The most popular photographer may not be the most skilful photographer. There is definitely some standard in most popular photographers but most of them are being overrated by their “fans”. There are actually more hidden talents in Singapore who can amaze me with their work. It actually takes some experience to differentiate a good photograph from a normal one. I’m still learning to judge, although I can already easily identify awful ones by now.

I have seen many normal standard photos of hot freelance models in Facebook. They are considered as “Club Snap standard”. Club Snap is a forum that many people organise mass shooting at, which around six photographers would surround a model each time, such that it is difficult to improve with the restriction. It is more about networking and trying luck to get some nice photos.

It just takes some connections to get more freelance models dying to work with you. You can either suck up to the bosses of some modelling agencies or act friendly to some of the freelance models directly. You do not need to be extremely good in your skill, but you need to at least know how to pretend to be. As long as your photos turn out not awful, with the hot girls as your models, all photos will appear awesome, psychologically, to most others. It will not take a long time before friends of the models start approaching you to work together.

You need to be popular before good models will flock to you; otherwise, even your friends will skip you. I have a number of friends, both online and offline ones, who have wanted to work with me enthusiastically. It just turns out that they are not available after up to a year of “business” talking. The feeling is definitely not worse than when I see any of them uploading new photos taken by other photographers who are obviously more exposed to freelance models. This is called reality. I do believe they have made good choices because those “popular” photographers can definitely give them more exposure compared to me. On the other hand, I prefer working with models who are not so realistic since every photoshoot should be an enjoyment and the model’s character matters a lot. Nobody can understand my happiness whenever I work with models who sincerity wish to help me build up my portfolio.

Of course, if you can even sweet talk to bimbos, you may become luckier. I have a open-and-simple-minded net friend who always initiates chat with me. I do not entertain her a lot because she never seems to get messages right and sometimes her comments on my Facebook status simply makes me speechless. She has happened to see one of my friends in real life and insists my friend will do sexy photoshoot just because of her ah-lian-ness. To be fair to all the ah lians in Singapore, not all of them are wild and wild does not mean they will show their body parts. Back to the point – she thinks a photographer is always sweet to her and she is going to do a sexy shoot with him in future. Good luck both of them for his patience and her self-assurance that she is completely safe. There are also some popular photographers who will comment “beautiful” on lousy self taken photos by models in Facebook. Frankly speaking, I may give a LIKE to show encouragement but I will never lie to the hot model that her photography skill is good.

I’m lucky because I do have quite a number of friends who are willing to work with me, but I’m also unlucky that I have encountered far more bad experiences than anyone. Before you see any release of my work with any kind friend, there are always numerous shit I have already gone through, including last minute cancellation of collaboration from other so-called models. There are also people approaching me but they go missing in action before they can make themselves available. I mean I have encountered lots of challenges that nobody knows to get my photography portfolio up.

No, I’m not yet a master of the arts. At least I don’t boast, but this does hurt me badly. Remember it is mostly about marketing, which includes how you present yourself. If you do not appear confident enough, your models may doubt your work even when professionals think those photos are good enough. You may also sound very humble but it will only make your model distrust your professionalism. Your models may be very nice people but some will hurt you unintentionally – there are too many ways to insult a photographer.

Packaging yourself is a must to progress faster because you need to attract good models to create better portfolios. Before I start to overcome myself to do more marketing and pretend to be very popular and skilful, I will just continue to work hard and improve on my photography skill. For now, I’m ready to face more disappointments because I rather be myself. I will rather under-promise and over-deliver than doing the opposite.

Things do get better no matter what.

Spread the Love – June 2013

Thanks to Ahpa Saeyeoh for introducing me to her friends Dickson and William. Dickson has studied Chinese medication for more than three years while William is currently understudying him. Both of them have improved on my back’s condition.

My back problem had lasted for nearly 15 years. It was worsened during my NS days due to the excessive loads I had to carry regularly. I had gone for X-ray and MRI screening but the results were not as “bad” as what doctors expected for me to downgrade permanently. Despite getting temporary “excuse heavy load” medical certificate from the medical officers (MOs), I had to continue to carry heavy stuffs. Well, I was simply unlucky because I had a bastard superior called Captain James during that time who would threaten (indirectly) all the injured co-slaves to work. His moonlighting business – some aquarium shops – should be failed by now after being cursed by so many nice people.

I was in fact one of the fittest guys in my camp other than having the injuries, which nobody could see nor understand. I had to go for regular physiotherapy sessions and campmates would jokily call me “chao geng”, thinking it was just an excuse to skip “work”. Friends who know me well should know that I was a very determined and responsible person who would do everything well and not push work around. An example would be during the BMT’s SIT test, I actually fireman-carried a platoon-mate much bigger size than me over a distance all by myself. Therefore, during my NS days, I was being hurt both physically and mentally.

Anyway, the aching on my back was more terrible than anyone could imagine. For a few times, there were sharp pains when I was jogging – obviously the spine was connected to lower body. The aching happened very often that I had lie down every now and then. More than half of my days, the pains accompanied me faithfully. I simply had to sit down for five minutes without my back supported to trigger the aching for years.

After some examination, Dickson told me I had slipped disc, which was not easily to be detected by both X-ray and MRI. He used a big stick with around five or six split ends to whack my back hard for probably longer than 20 minutes that my face turned red. He was experienced enough to tell that the pain was bearable compared to the 15 years of my torment. However, my back was numbed from the whacking that I was unable to tell him the exact condition so that he could do more.

The sore on my back improved immediately, which stunned me totally. All these years, I always thought the western doctors were right that I could only train my muscle hard to support the injured spine. Most of the time, I thought my back muscle was injured as well. If only I had more faith that my back problem could be cured or improved, so that I could seek better Chinese physician for help earlier, my life would be so much better. The pain had slowed me down badly in my work.

Another Bad Photoshoot Experience

I have just deleted a set of photos. I’m feeling relieved actually because they require lots of time to edit and the end result may not be up to my expectation; most of all, the model is not as nice as I think in term of character. Tricia almost wanted to “kill” me for my taste of “model” in term of appearance, but I was more of looking for the experience with “model” of good character.

The model is my net friend, a Thai expat, whom I have not met before the shoot. Anyway, I used to think she is a fun-loving person and definitely easygoing, but it turned out that I was wrong all the while. Other than her usual slow or no-reply response, I really thought she was just too busy. After a few years of knowing each other with just very rarely short chats, I thought she could help me to practise with my new gears. Most of all, since I was expecting her to be very nice, it would be an enjoyable experience.

She was supposed to send me photos of her outfits the night before but she failed to. I had actually looked through all her photos in Facebook but she rejected my suggestion of outfits because they were old. Our plan was to do fashion shoot at Boat Quay area since she was staying very near Quake Quay. I woke up early right after sunrise to wait for her late confirmation of the shoot, which I thought I should just go back to sleep. Then I went to the bus-stop in front of The Central to meet her without seeing her outfit.

I had been updating her of my location on the way but I did not see her at the bus-stop even though she was staying very near. After some time, she suggested shooting at the beach instead and I agreed since I thought she was afraid of the crowds at city area. At the same time, she amazed me by saying that she had just left her house. Next, she told me to wait downstairs her house for her to pack her stuffs. It was an hour after arriving at the bus-stop and finally to the gate of her place, I got to see her. I tried to turn a blind eye to her lateness since she was my net friend after all and that she seemed to be really friendly.

The first thing I noticed was that she was not wearing any makeup. Her hair was also very dried. The weird thing was that I could smell alcohol in her.

We took a cab to Sentosa in my jeans and shoes, which made me look like crap. On the way, she admitted that she had gone drinking with her friend till late hour. Our initial location was at the far end of Tanjong Beach but there were presence of a few outsiders around. Then, she wanted to find a place with fewer people. We ended up walking to Palawan beach and crossed over the famous bridge and to the two towers. I was able to take a few warm-up shots before more people arrived. She wanted to go back to Tanjong beach after that and we decided to shoot along the way where there were many trees. I had quite some fun instructing her to turn and hide the meaty parts of her body and in fact, I was quite impressed with myself. Since the path was quite narrow with cyclists travelling to and fro frequently, I was not able to take out my speedlite and umbrella. We had to end the photoshoot when she began to be drained. We took a cab out. After I got home, I used Whatsapp to text her but she did not reply.

A few days later, she started asking me for her photos when I was busy. She wanted the raw photos without editing. Nearly three weeks after the shoot, she finally messaged me again in Facebook when I was watching TV. When I went back to my laptop, which was less than half an hour, I was shocked to see very nasty words to know her true character. So, I decided to delete all the photos and I was stunned by her reply, suspecting I would use her photos. I did not want to tell her the facts that her outlook at that point of time was too terrible for anyone to see, in order not to sound nasty.

I have a webpage written specially for TFCD photo shoot at http://sillydumb.com/photography/tfcd-photoshoot-singapore/ and people who have seen my work before are likely to have seen it before agreeing to have TFCD photo shoot with me. For this case, I’m partly at fault for not forcing her to look through the rules stated.

Which established photographer will give away photo for portrait without editing if the model does not put on proper makeup, especially when the model has very bad complexion? If you have a proper brain, you will probably know that it will only spoil the photographer’s reputation.

As for the timeframe, I will never over-promise anyone. I have in fact rejected quite a number of photo shoot requests because I understand I’m not able to produce the final work fast enough due to my current workload. The exceptional cases that I have taken up the shots are because I know the models’ schedules are tight. I have my own small business to run and it is taking far too much time for my hobby. Whereas, I have just upgraded to a different camera and started using speedlite, and still trying to figure out the settings. Lastly, there have been quite a number of events shots for me to process and I will definitely priortise them over FREE portraiture photo shoot.

Below is the transcript of our chats in Facebook.

A couple of days after the shoot…

A:
Hey photographer
Can I have my photos ?
Which way is easy to load ?

Me:
haha. you need to wait. i got quite some photos to go through

A:
Dont need to go through so much lah
Anyway not like I going be top model ha
Look so ugly

Less than three weeks after the shoot…

A:
Hey I want my photo without ur edit
Please send me
Thanks
Please I don’t like to ask many time
Just tell me how u gonna send
Why no reply?
Let’s me know by today thanks.. Be a man don’t hide under skit

Me:
i will send you after editing
if you insist, i will just delete all photos
let’s treat it that we didn’t shoot before
this is the rule of tfcd photoshoot
no photographer will send non edited photos if model has no makeup

A:
U can delete make sure u do don’t let me see my photo out there

Me:
don’t worry. you don’t think too well of yourself.

A:
I never think but u don’t wanna let me have it or just play around.. I not smell kid
Just be honest that all.. I never any photographer take a month to edit photo
I just want my photo that all why so hard? And I thought u r a friend after photo shoot I never tell me anything
Be understand.
If u really delate it I want evident make sure u do

Me:
oh you are the big model who has lots of photographers doing professional photoshoot for you. sorry i didn’t know you are so great. i must be blind that i can’t see any professional photos that you have uploaded. but well, i’m not as professional as your professional photographers and i have my own work to do and photos that i have to give to other models and people from bigger events. and i’m not going to give you any evident. you can go ahead and sue me if you ever see your photos.

A:
If u r not then why u want to keep my photo? This is so funny.

Me:
what for i want to keep your photo now???
dream on

A:
Honestly I never thought u r this kind of guy

Me:
honestly i never thought you are this kind of girl

A:
Good if u r don’t keep

Me:
you think you are paying me big bucks to do photoshoot and expect me to give you fast???

A:
Just do me favor delete it all thanks

Me:
that’s for sure.

A:
Good.

Me:
just remember to sue me if you ever see them.

A:
Sure will do

I would have explained nicely to her but she started turning nasty before I read her messages. She was very naive to think that I would keep her photos as my portfolio or whatever, and she was brainless to ask me to produce evidence that I had deleted her not-so-impressive photos.

I have been judging people too quickly, thinking most people are nice people. it is not easy to judge people clearly before you start working with them.

However, people should start to learn that if they have been replying to other people’s messages late or sometimes, do not even reply at all, don’t expect others reply to them immediately.