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.

Think Big, Think for Your Country

My lunch for yesterday was served with a free show. It was a tired day because I went to bed right before sunrise and my house could never be quiet during daylight for whatever reason. My younger brother, mum and elder sister-in-law had our lunch at the coffee shop between block 7 and 8. We were welcomed with loud noises.
Two women were quarreling very fiercely. It was a good Chinese listening comprehension test for us, as we tried to figure out what was going on while being challenged by the high pitch. They had obviously come over to Singapore from the same country.
I was not trying to be cheeky but at one stage of their aggressive debate when one woman called the other “china woman” and was rebutted that she was also from China, I almost burst into laughter. It was not about any race or nationality that was funny, but the fact that one probably thought her own country people’s were “low class” and tried to insult her kind. Anyway, through this, we understood that the first woman was probably a new citizen who used to be a China’s Chinese.
We were very confused over their roles since we rarely dined over that coffee shop during lunch time, but we assumed a local looking Chinese man standing inside the noodle stall was the owner. The man looked frustratedly lost and tried to calm down the first woman at times. Suddenly, the second woman stepped into the stall’s boundary and tried to take out some dollar notes from a box at the display area. She was stopped by the first woman who threatened to call the police, pointing to the top where she claimed there was a CCTV. The money was eventually safe after some physical contacts like grabbing of hands. That was a time when I thought a fierce fight was going to take place.
We were not able to figure out their relationship and whenever both of them were the stall’s staffs. It was until another man whose accent was obviously from mainland China as well came over to help the second woman, we got some hints. The first woman told them the vegetable cost money and a few cents was also money; and if her opponent wanted, the whole plate could be sold at $10. We might be wrong but the cat fight could be started due to the second woman asking for extra vegetable (the “cong”), and maybe, for large portion. Therefore, we got to figure out that the first lady was from the stall while the second woman was her customer. Since the local man inside the stall was most likely to be the owner and yet he could not stop the first woman, while she tried so hard to fight for the benefit of the stall, she was probably the ladyboss. Of course, I had taken into account that our talented Singapore government was not so lousy to give away free citizenship to just a stall helper (not an elite). However, I was puzzled because even though it was a trend for older Singapore men to “buy” foreign wives, there was definitely some “standard” in the ladies’ appearances. I was being frank and did not mean to insult the “ladyboss”.
The customers went back to their seats outside the coffee shop eventually. Then, the “ladyboss” went over to continue with the debate, insulting the clients that they were too poor to pay up. After some speeches delivered by both of them, there was a short tea break. The male customer who seemed to be trying to stop the mess earlier started taking photos of the stall using his phone. He was probably going to talk about the incident in his weibo or renren. The customers (probably just the woman) refused to leave. A few minutes later, we were stunned when the “ladyboss” went over to apologise to the customers. We thought she should be more firm if she had done nothing wrong right from the start but it was good that she brought herself down to try to end the drama. The customer was, however, not as graceful and continued to stare at the stall owners. After her partner walked off towards Pinnacle Duxton, she continued to hang around but eventually moved to the corner of the coffee shop where they probably could not have eye-contact.
I was not sure if the customer had left when two policemen finally arrived. The men-in-blue looked lost and went off without walking into the coffee shop. A few minutes later, they returned and the male stall owner approached them to probably give a short explanation. The entire peace was regained very soon after the two gentlemen left. Both of them were lucky since the cat fight had ended earlier, or otherwise, it was going to be a tough situation to handle.
I am quite narrative about the entire drama but the main purpose is not about who had started it nor who was at fault. Frankly speaking, many people from all over the world have quite bad impression on Chinese from the mainland and it is caused by the huge number of black sheep among them. I have quite a number of China-born Chinese friends who are very good people to communicate with, and I really feel sorry for them. Imagine two Singaporeans quarreling at overseas and even try to put one down by claiming she is from Singapore, she is simply slapping herself. It is definitely an embarrassment to their country.
It is a common sense that if you put one foreigner among nine locals, there may be some chances that the foreigner will pick up the local culture. However, if you place four foreigners with six locals, the four talents are more likely to hang out among themselves and there is so much greater probability that some of the locals will be influenced by the foreigners’ culture instead. The first scenario is called integration into the locals while the second one is creating of a new culture by mixing both. The worst thing is when probably two of the six “locals” have just become locals after staying for a few years.
I believe not all citizen from any country is bad (having bad culture), and there are many Singaporeans who are problematic as well. However, the number of black sheep from some countries may much higher.

Home Cleaning Project at Bukit Merah
While you were probably still asleep on a Sunday morning, our team was already out on a mission to clear up the house of a lonely lady staying in a one-room flat in Jalan Bukit Merah.
Huiting was arranging the cleaning a few weeks ago together with the earlier free soup project for the residents (, but luckily we did not put the projects on the same day, otherwise we might need to work until late evening.
The flat’s condition was definitely unsuitable for human beings to live in. It was packed almost fully that at any point of time, only a few people could step in; anyway, it was just too dirty and dusty, with a foul smell, that not many people would want to do that. We could not even see her single size bed and she was very used to sleep on a chair instead.
Elderly would not want to throw away any useless stuff because the item might come into good use in future (if they could locate the item). Moreover, many things were parts of their lives and dumping any was kind of like throwing their memories away. If your mum was from a very poor family throughout her life, you could probably been living in a messy house like mine, but trust me, your living condition could never be as bad as that.
We used gloves and masks. Some gloves were torn and my hands were most of the time soaked in water since I had to dip the cloths into the pails of water often. The masks could not filter off the smell and Yonghao had to change a few because they were soaked in his sweat.
The corridor was packed with her items, stretching to around three doors away. I made many trips down to the garbage collection centre with heavvy loads. Each time the auntie said yes to throwing any item, we would cheer because that would lessen the mess.
During lunch time, we bumped into a big group of SMU students who were on their mission to interact with the elderly over the area to find out their problems and needs. They were very nice to send manpower over to assist us despite they were very busy as well.
The auntie was not someone who took things by granted. She apologised and thanked us very often. She even called a friend to buy can drinks for us. She also forced us to take a special edition Singapore coin each by threatening to chase us away.
We went to Tanglin Halt with two big red plastic bags of her clothes to wash while we had our dinner over there. Then, we brought them to return to the auntie before we set off to Yonghao’s house since his dad had to use the lorry. After that, we went to Serangoon Garden for dessert to end the day.
The photos were taken without using speedlite and thus there might be grain and blurriness caused by high ISO and slow shutter speed. My hands were in a big mess throughout. It was extremely challenging to be the photographer when you needed to participate in the mission as well.
Su Huiting
Lee Yong Hao
Ahpa Sae Yeoh
Precious Jadey
Guo Yong Sheng
Nancy Quek
SMU students from SHINE programme
Camera: Canon 650D
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm F2.8