Working On Corporate Photography

How do i work on Corporate Photography, my way!

Once the fee for my corporate photography service is successfully agreed upon. I will  request to do a scouting at the client’s office to understand the place am going to work at. Is also a chance to build up rapport with the client on the ground rather than only through the phone or email. Unless the point of contact is not based here, which  happened occasionally.

Each time without fail, i will introduce myself to the person i am going to work with. Shake the person’s hand, the name of the person so i can communicate better when directing for poses.

I will give instruction to the person to either stand or sit according to the client’s brief, i have pre marked a spot for the positioning. I will brief the person what is expected and also share how the picture is going to turn out, as i wanted the person to have an idea what is happening or excited about.

Usually the first few pictures serve as a warm up for my subject. Allowing the person to get used to my camera or presence. Some people i came across were nervous, scare or stiff. I think is understandable. Posing in front of the camera can be a little nerve wrecking. I always double check to make sure the person is comfortable in whatever pose i request.

If the person is not comfortable during the shoot, i can sense it immediately. That’s what i like about shooting through the viewfinder. It has a hidden power to see through a man’s thought. I have to communicate more to make sure the person is at ease.

Encouragement is very important in the process. People from the corporate are not train models. Most people won’t understand what is main light, how to pose for picture, whether to smile or not to smile. My instruction is simple. Be relax, smile. Easier said than done, trust me.

Capturing a good corporate picture for a person is not only having the best lighting set up, arm with the most expensive or the latest camera model. The key is communication with my subject. Telling the person to relax and smile may seems like a very simple thing to do. But i wouldn’t know what is going through the person’s head. The person may have a rough day, stress in work, or may have an important presentation coming up later. Whatever the reason was. The photographer need to be understanding of the situation yet getting that good picture.

A few even asked me to tell them a joke to make them laugh. Sorry to say my occupation is not to be a clown or entertainer to make you happy. I usually brushed them off politely, show them i am professionalism in my work, of course i never tell the person off, is rude.

Is not hard to make small talk to ease off my subject’s anxiety. My profession also require me to be very good in PR. I was never shy of speaking with various people of different nationalities and industries, different positions from the staff level to the head of the company.

The best compliment i can receive after the shoot was the person came up to me saying: “Thank you for the encouragement.” I feels really good to hear that, knowing i have make someone else more confident about themselves.

Email to check for my availability for your picture solution regarding corporate photography.

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Get The Best Out Of Your Tool

Hello Readers.

The Tool am talking is about digital camera – compact camera, mirrorless camera, DSLR camera etc. With the rapid advancement of technology over the last 5-10 years. Camera functions have improved dramatically since the day I picked up my first Sony compact camera back in 2003 from Cathay Photo. It was a 3.2mp point and shoot, costing me about S$600 during that time.

Fast forward to the current year. The photography industry continue to evolve. Currently in my arsenal, i am using a Canon 5D Mark III for my commercial work, a spare 5D Mark II. Especially the 5D Mark III have amazing features that i did not use at all. Paying the full bucks but only utilising half of the camera capabilities.

Basically, i am using the core function in the camera for the control of aperture, shutter speed and iso. The 5D Mk III camera obviously allows me to deliver high quality resolution image for industrial and corporate client who wanted to blow up the picture for office wall paper.

Nowadays, plenty of DSLR camera in the market offer a dual function capability. Not only does the camera can capture high quality images, but it produce HD video recording for filmmaker and videographer. I have to admit videography is not my interest at all. I did some recording but i did not want to do the editing because it require a bulk of time.

Then, i recently realised how oblivious i was in not consistently using some of the ‘delicious’ tools for my convenience. Such a waste right. Knowing my money was not well spent on the camera complexity.

Just to share, Canon 5D Mk III has this live view camera function for taking still image. For example, night photography. If the camera unable to focus on the spot i want. I can switch on the live view, set my lens to manual mode, through the live view to do a focus adjustment. I can also zoom in on the live view to have a better clarity on my focus. Gone are the good old days of doing manual focus through the viewfinder, which can be quite a struggle. Still, it doesn’t mean seeing through the viewfinder is a day of the past. No, peeping through the viewfinder still offer me a different perspective of the world.

In conclusion, explore and maximise your camera functions as many as possible. Camera manufacturer always gather user’s feedback in order to improve their next generation of product. So, have fun with your very expensive toy.

Purging in progress on Facebook

What am i purging?

I am currently removing most of my pictures albums from my personal Facebook account. Why am i doing this, am i crazy or depress?

Why am i purging? 

You see the thing is, i don’t enjoy that eager feeling of waiting for someone to click that magical “Like” button for my photographs. I just realised i hate instant gratification. Honestly, a tremendous waste of time (i hate wasting time). If there are no “Likes” – what happen is self doubt creeps in, the feeling can be degrading and losing a bit of confident at time. Everyone loses confident at some point of time because of doubt or fear. Perfectly human being to say.

Posting so many pictures on social media may not truly reflect your life. That depends the type of pictures you are sharing. I used to see how people only portray the glamorous side of their lifestyle. Luckily, i barely can envied about that type of life, we all know how reality work.

Next, purging doesn’t mean i don’t like the pictures, but is less meaningful for me as i matured more. The perspective thinking between age 25 and 35, and so on, can be a lot of different.

Should i purge?

Is like cleansing; practicing a long meditation makes one more focus. Similarly, going to the spa to ease muscle tension accumulate on the weary body. Purging pictures off social media is a very personally decision for me. If you don’t want to purge doesn’t mean you are wrong because the pictures must be holding much memory for you. If you dare to purge, it means two things. First you got the guts, yes i got guts because i don’t really care if the old picture are there or not. Secondly and most importantly i see, is that there will still be much room for me as a person to grow.

Conclusion

As a photographer, the picture i took can reflect my style and personality. I want to start this journey of sharing pictures that are more meaningful to me, it would also be great if the pictures i share is able to resonate with someone else. Hope you feel release after doing it.

Eric Kim said:”Don’t care about the likes, care about the photos you like.”

Patience is reward

Life work in a funny way. Before success, you will constantly faced rejection, disappointment, agony, frustration, and maybe give up in the end. You think nobody give you a chance. Another hard truth is, this is a destined path to struggle in order to reached the peak. There is no short cut except very very hard work, fighting your way through all the difficulties.

Forget about admiring other’s people success. Don’t ever think they are lucky. Luck comes with a lot of hard work that most people don’t get to see behind the curtain. Rather, study how did they fail and become successful in their own way, ask yourself what can you learn from failure as well?

The picture above, condos at Tanjong Rhu. I went up to the spot so many times and always get much disappointment of the scene. Somehow i persists and was finally rewarded with the best weather i could possibly imagine. I would say is a personal triumph and learn how determine i was to get the picture at all effort.

Such determination will also be applicable into my commercial jobs for clients that require photography service. I want to offer valuable pictures that goes a long way.

Bless all

Travel Collection – 1 in Beijing

Travel Collection is a group of photos from various travel trip i did in Asia countries.  I decided to select my favourite pictures, open up another folder in my website and put my favourite all together. Photoshelter function allows me to seamlessly handle large number of images in a breeze. The purpose for this blog is to share why do i make this particular image and how do i approach towards the subject during travel in other countries.

Portrait of an old lady 

I was exhausted after squeezing and exploring around the Temple of Heaven, Beijing. I headed to the park within the premises. Taking my time to rest and enjoy the lush of lighted greenery that embraced me. This old lady sat beside me, one bench away. Somehow we started chatting a bit through my mandarin language and their own Chinese dialect, i always love to have a conversation with a kind and good stranger. She was all smiling and laughing, you know the sunshine personality. I thought she would make a good portrait picture for my travel documentation,

She was already unreserve and relax, i asked her permission whether can i take her photograph? She agreed, wooohoooo! I took out my trusty long lens and started shooting. While am still making minor conversation to make it even more natural. I only asked her to look at the camera, and she was smiling all the way.

There was a generous depth in the background behind her. Technically is easier to isolate the background in order for the subject to stand out in it best. When people look at the picture, the focus is immediately on her, the greenery background became an aid to the overall composition.

I thought surrounded by greenery is a natural luxury.

‘Snap, Snap, Snap’

Check my LCD and was content with the outcome.

I really love that smile reflected on her facial expression, being positive and cheerful at her age. Is like an indication that her life is much peaceful. I showed her the picture and asked whether she likes it? We continued chatting a bit more before i headed for my next destination.

Camera setting
Focal length: 94mm
ISO: 800
Aperture: F/5
Shutter Speed: 1/250

Let me know if this is helpful, as i intend to write more (to improve my writing) of my experience to share with like minded photographers so that your can gain something as well.

Same scene but different perspective

Scene #1

Scene #2

A little bit of background. The building architect is Iversen Van Sitteren & Partners. This building is name Shaw Tower. Standing along Beach road. A 35 storey tower building meant for offices and retails. Precast concrete panel fenestration allowed floor to ceiling gazing in the office units. It offer the building’s undisturbed views of the sea. Shaw Tower remains a distinguish feature in the commercial district today.

Look at the two pictures above. Am wondering which one do you prefer? Some may prefer both images. Some may not even like it at all for whatever reason. A few may choose one of the favourite from the two pictures. Sometimes it can be a headache to select the best picture out of the many. Let’s use this 2 pictures to have a quick discussion.

Scene #1 was the first picture i took. The light was great as you can see, the sky was in saturated blue which i totally love it. A bit of puffy cloud to add as an extra element on the sky. Sometimes i like to include a taxi vehicle inside my frame as my personal style of work. Common colours of taxi vehicles in Singapore are usually in red, blue and yellow. However, i dislike the tree branches on the left of the image. It seems to distract my main focus on the architecture.

Scene #2 i start to make improvement. I’ve adjusted my distance and composed in a way the tree branches is out of the frame. Now you can see the sky is completely in blue colour, the viewers can easily now focus it attention on Shaw Tower. However, there was no taxi at that point of time for my personal style of work. The flow of the traffic is hard to predict, sometimes many vehicles can come all in one time, making it hard to wait for a single taxi vehicle to appear even after a long wait.

What makes a striking image if i have to decide the best out of the two. I think a great photograph rely on line, shape, form, texture, pattern and colour. These are the basic elements of good composition. Every successful photograph rely on one or several of these elements, regardless of the subject.

As i am writing this now, i have a clearer perspective scene #2 would be my ideal choice. If you looked carefully at scene #2, 3 colours; blue, yellow and green caught my attention. And also without any distraction of the tree and vehicle on the road. The building is in a proper vertical manner for architecture photography work.

In the past

This batch of pictures has been sitting in one of my folder for god know how many months. I have no awareness how these gorgeous talent ended up there. But these images kept appearing whenever i do a batch resize to this particular folder.

The reason i did not delete or remove it is because this set of model’s pictures review who i am now, and what i am in the past. Is a self study or reflection as a photographer. Sometimes i wonder what happen to this group of people i had photographed. How is their life, doing what they are passionate about? Am clueless despite my constant curiosity. Am not sure if i have the RAW files as well! *shrugs*

Back in 2007 i was approached by a model agency to do a test shoot for their new talents. First time working with an agency as a young photographer, i was keen to shoot portrait and try to make an impression. I didn’t know what to expect and journey my way to their office to do the shoot filled with excitement. Sometimes knowing nothing can be a good thing, i can concentrate on the process of making picture, and more good pictures.

I recall using a Tamron 90mm macro lens, a cheaper version from the Canon 85mm portrait lens. This macro lens produce quality tack sharp pictures that i used it in most of my portrait shoot in the early days. The only downside is the very slow focusing, with the barrel moving in and out to get the focus in backlighting or low light condition. But i was patient in those days, slow and easy was the way to shoot, no stress, no pressure from anyone. Purely to enjoy the process – communicate and review.

I still keep this Tamron 90mm lens in my dry box and take it out to do macro shoot if needed. Think of it i haven’t used it for the last 2-3 years.

In 2007, i was using a Canon 5D, the first digital full frame camera in the market released in 2005. I was very proud to own it, the camera was very expensive that time and still beyond reach of many people, film was drastically dipping that time. i saved a long time and invested in it for my work. Unlike today. Everyone can easily afford a camera of various types such as a iPhone, mirrorless, compact camera to produce an image, storing memory in millions of pixel into a tiny memory card. The respect of an old digital DSLR camera quickly overwhelmed by the newer models many years down the road..

My holy editing application was on a Adobe Photoshop CS2, Windows version on a laptop. Way before i shifted to Mac till today, i was a PC user. Dealing with colors correction on the screen, frustration with the anti virus software, the heavy weight of the computer. Those day I had learnt a lot of editing skill through my friends and reading to polish my skill. Tutorials online are more interactive these days. There is no reason not to know nothing.

The above gorgeous model, if i recall correctly, her name is Stella. nice personality to work with and clear communication between me and her. I like her persona during the process, she was blessed with an eurasian look as well. Through my viewfinder i can sense she is genuinely enjoying the shoot. Simply nature in-front of the camera at full ease.

Some talents were new, like this lady on top. Clearly stiff and unsure what to do. I don’t blame her, everyone got their first time, the start to becoming better. It was my job to give direction and encourage her to boost confident. Ego bruise, definitely. However, everyone deserve a chance, if one close door on you, look for the next one until someone said yes.

Creating water reflection in Photoshop CS6

I was having a bit of fun in my Photoshop CS6, aside the usual work. Was working on a picture of me standing with my hands up, against the magnificient buildings structure. Was checking out the Filter functions and an idea struck me, bang!!

It dawn on me, realize how photographers capture beautiful reflection from the sea water, lake or pond. All along i know is half fake because the reflection is not suppose to be sharp and clear. Hence, i never pay too much attention how it was created, although i did had an idea how to put it together, but i never once attempt. Until i just discovered a way to make it realistic.

It ain’t that difficult actually. Hence am going to share with you a 10-easy-steps tutorial to achieve this result without water in the picture.

1) Have 2 same files opened up in photoshop. Make sure the file names are different from the same folder.

2) Select 1 file, proceed to Image -> Canvas Size. A canvas window will appear. In the New Size column, i change to pixel (for my easy reading). Current Size column will automatically change to Pixels format

3) Adjust the Anchor as seen in the sample below, set the Height similar to the Current Size pixels

4) Click OK in the Canvas Size box to duplicate a canvas below.

5) Proceed to the other file, go to Image -> Image Rotation of 180 degree -> Flip Canvas Horizontal

6) Copy and paste the image into the other image with canvas created earlier, adjust the image to fit in properly using the Move Tool

7) Here is the fun part, proceed to Filter->Distort->Ripple
A Ripple box appear. Move the slider left and right to your liking and have a feel how it looks like for your ‘water reflection’. I set it at 100%, Size is set in medium

8) This is the ripple result i wanted. There is a line of ‘chipped off’ at the bottom of the image, that is because the picture was altered during the previous process. You can clone or crop it away, if you decided to stop at this stage. If not proceed to step 9

9) Ideally for me to make it even more realistic. In the same layer, go to Filter->Blur->Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 90 degree. I reduce the Distance to around 10-15 pixels to achieve Motion Blur effect

10) Flatten the layers, and you got yourself a beautiful water reflection picture.

I hope you loved my photoshop tutorial, if there is anything unclear do drop me an email. Writing this tutorial is really no easy matter. I truly appreciate those free tutorials i had seen online. Those people that put in the many hours of effort to share their knowledge with the world, kudos to all of them!

Process of photograph lightning

Last evening was the first time i encountered lightning scene while i was doing a personal photography project on a high ground at Bukit Batok, Singapore. I notice the lightning was occurring very frequently, why not try to capture this phenomenal moment since i did not try before.

Basic equipment i have that time:
-Tripod
-Camera
-Remote shutter release
-Wide angle or telephoto lens

PROCESS
Quickly set up my tripod, used a 70-200 F4 lens, mount it and adjust the composition i desire. Not sure how much time will the lightning keep striking. The camera setting was put to BULB mode, F/16, ISO 200 and expose it for 73 seconds. Below is the 2nd exposure result. My adrenaline starts to kick in!

shot 1

I changed to a prime wide angle lens and capture the scene again. Still in bulb mode, adjust camera exposure to F/13, ISO200 and expose it for 38 seconds. However i did like the walls on the side of my frame. Hence i decided to use 70-200 for more shots.

shot 2

Making correction during the process
Now am pretty sure the lightning is going to keep occurring at that particular area after observing how frequent the lightning strike. I re-adjust my composition a little more and shot a few frames landscape mode, realise i was missing out the lightning high up. I turn my camera to portrait/vertical to have more space on top. Over a short period the strikes of lightning start to slow down. I don’t want to expose my shutter for a long time. Hence i set my next exposure to F/8, ISO 320 and expose it for 35 seconds. Below are the most amazing result i got after my composition correction!

shot 3

shot 4
29 seconds exposure

Tips
Once you decides the composition, set your lens to manual focus. Auto focus might jump off or struggle to focus when the auto focus point is aiming at a dark spot in the night. How i get my focus was pointing the auto focus point on the transmitter tower, once it is fixed i push the button to manual focus on my telephoto lens.

Set your exposure time to around 20-30 seconds would be good, unless you know the lightning is striking so frequently, adjust your exposure time accordingly to your need.

Initially you need to conduct a few test shots to get your exposure correct, i share my setting here is not a guide line to follow but a reference for you to understand.

Editing lightning image
Post process is usually one of the fun part to let your imagination be as creative as possible, i transfer the images to Lightroom and did my tweaking.

shot 5
Original RAW files from my 5D Mark III which looks unexciting.

shot 6
Adjusted the white balance to my ideal final image. It looks more dramatic in this sense, making the lighting ‘pop”.

Stacking your lightning images
If you are lucky, you can get multiple lightning in a single exposure. Not all the time lightning occur so frequently in every few seconds. By stack up the images 3 & 4 in photoshop to get the dramatic result i want.

shot 7

Hope you like my experience sharing here.

Afro Asia Building in Singapore

Wandering in Central Business District during the weekend prove to be the most effective way for me to do architecture photography exploration. The area is almost free from human and traffic interruption, allowing me to be focus on capturing pictures. Is also a good idea to bring my not-so-light-tripod and set it up anywhere without hindrance and getting weird stares.

In Sept 2014 i came across Afro Asia Building, a commercial building in Raffles Place district. It has this old MPH bookstore on the ground floor, there ain’t many of it in left in Singapore as compare to more than 10 years back. The building gives me a feeling of struggling against the resistance of time against all the steep cost modernised building as the nation progress. Afro Asia building gives me a disciplinary design identity. It is also prominent and hard to miss for the first timer’s visit.

I went back a few more times throughout the months to capture the building in it most presentable moment,hopefully. If possible i want the light to be as beautiful when light reflected on the building with minimum traffic distraction. As is this a personal work, i can afford to choose the best time and day to return, or when am available for the day. Funny to say it never happen to have the best light, let’s say out of 10 trips, 9 doesn’t work. I started to study why it was so difficult to get it. Because the building is surrounded by tall buildings in a circle. Light is blocked from the east and the west. The only decent light is only from mid afternoon to about 2pm. I was extremely lucky to encounter a great shot in this time slot.

A beautiful ray of light shined right in the middle of the road, in the centre of the building. A yellow taxi came in to give a contrast to the almost dull color of the building. Lights were reflected from the opposite building to offer glittering effect. That was my first and last best light ever.

1 May 2015 i went back to check it out. The sky was cloudy as usual, i thought it was another unsuccessful attempt. As i was at the junction waiting for the red man to turn green. I took a step back into the shelter and looked diagonally across, tilted my head up to discovered these huge buildings behind Afro Asia Building. I changed my perspective of viewing it in landscape and adjusted it to portrait format. I looked into my viewfinder and was excited by the scene took place. I quickly set up my tripod to get the job done. As you can see below is the result.

I always enjoy going back to a particular area many times to search and explore, over the months i get familiar with the place and i get to see and learn more things, this process will result the fruit of labour.

Commercially doing architecture photography for client, doing a detail ground survey before the shoot is very important. Architecture photographer need to see for himself to understand/feel the building and it’s surrounding, where can he place his tripod, is there any possible high ground for an even better perspective, taking note of the light shifting, which particular spot is going to cause reflection/glare from the window at this particular point of time-is it possible to rescue in post-process, is this a decent season to photograph depending on the country season, checking the weather forecast for the next day. As all said, sometimes time is limited and i got to do whatever the time is given and budget to produce the best result.