This weeks Guest Blogger, Michael Loh shares the story of his background, how he came into photography, and sheds some light on his rather unique art form (which we love btw!!)
How did you first get interested in photography?
I was looking for another creative outlet from digital fantasy art and thought I would try photography as they employed similar principles in terms of composition and lighting. I bought my first Nikon D70 DSLR in 2004 and photography has got me hooked since to the point where I have now put my fantasy art on hold. I took a correspondence course with the New York Institute of Photography actually, which focused more on film cameras but this was not an issue really as camera principles like ISO, shutter and aperture still apply to all cameras. I learnt the fundamentals of photography in that course and it was invaluable for a newbie like me. My interest really kicked off when I joined the HK Photography Club in 2008. I learnt more in those few months after joining the club than I did since I bought my first DSLR as I got to mingle and share knowledge with like-minded enthusiasts.
So these days, what do you like to shoot and what is your style of photography?
I find myself gravitating towards creative portraits which ties in to my earlier work on digital fantasy art. Since I started doing portraits my style has gone through several iterations to a point where I can say that it is a mix of vintage, glamour and fantasy. I have been trying to incorporate my experience in digital fantasy art into the post-processing workflow of my images to give it a unique and interesting look. I am still experimenting and looking for other ways to tell stories with my images.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I find my inspiration from fashion magazines, movies, Pinterest and from other photographers a lot. I have several favourite contemporary photographers whom I follow like Annie Leibovitz, Sue Bryce, Lara Jade, Joel Grimes, Kenvin Pinardy and Manny Librodo. I am also inspired by the classical work of the old masters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrant.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
It’s about what piques my interests and my senses. The eureka moment comes when the mind, heart and subject matter comes together and this can be far in between. I am always looking out for that perfect moment in time when the factors I mentioned click. It can be a face, a scene, landscape.. something which interests me as an individual.
Shot set-up can be as complicated as shooting in a studio to using available light. Photography is about using light to “paint” a picture.
As a photographer, how you use the light and position your subject with respect to the light available to you is the key to getting a well exposed picture. But it does not stop there.. You also need to know how to best compose your scene to get maximum effect for the result you want. A lot of trial and error is involved before you get the perfect combination of light, scene and composition.
After taking a shot there is the digital post-processing component of the workflow which offers me another layer of creativity where I can composite other elements to the original photo to help tell a story or impart a mood. The primary tool I reach for is Adobe Photoshop. It has all the bells and whistles (and more!) to create any image, limited only by the user’s imagination.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why?
A cliche maybe, but I have yet to take my best photo. I am always striving to snap that elusive perfect photo, the holy grail of all photographers. I guess the latest photo I post on online is my best but the quest for a personal best photo will never end, as long as I can still hold a camera in my hand. And it sort of has to be like that.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I would love to be able to ditch my day-job to make a decent living in photography. I did 2 years of professional photography in Hong Kong before coming to New Zealand. Unfortunately the market in New Zealand is small and while I am establishing myself here in Auckland I had to find a day job to make ends meet.
What’s the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
Take as many photographs as you can, go out and shoot, join a club, do peer reviews and don’t forget to have fun! Be inspired by works of other photographers but don’t forget to infuse your own style into your work. As you start getting deeper into photography you will surely find your own style as a photograph is not just a record of light in a moment of time but it is also an exposure of the photographers heart…
Michael Loh is a Malaysian-born Australian living in Auckland, New Zealand, but spent the last 15 years in Hong Kong. He is currently working in the IT department of the Auckland City Council but in his free time he is a a freelance photographer shooting engagements, weddings and portraits. When he was still in school he taught himself how to draw and got pretty good at it. From sketching he progressed to creating landscapes and fantasy art using 3D rendering tools and Photoshop. His digital artwork has been published in several art publications and he has also contributed tutorials to 3D art magazines.
You can see more of his work on his website: www.michaellohphoto.com and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org