I love shooting portraits. It’s always a challenge to photograph a stranger and make that person look natural, relaxed, in the moment… and at the same time account for good light, apt background, and a conducive atmosphere. So when I was commissioned by Standard Chartered to shoot 50 people across Singapore, London, and New York, naturally I was excited and nervous at the same time.
Standard Chartered’s International Graduate Programme is year-long immersive, collaborative, and global experience for the most sought after graduates around the world. They launched their #goodhappenshere campaign to attract the best of the best graduates… and inspire the ones who would have never considered banking as a career.… Read more
I started shooting here in Singapore around 6 years ago, and since then I’ve met a number of interesting people who have helped me out with my photography, ranging from entrepreneurs, creatives, talents, and fellow photographers. Just last year, I started a personal project where I invited these guys for a portrait shoot – all of which were taken in a studio.. with studio lighting.. something I was actually absolutely clueless at.
One of the images that are on display in the Don’t Smile exhibit is a collage of 105 non-smiling faces, all of which were photographed through a studio setup in tcc in a span of 3 Saturdays. This involved an open call for faces… and all they had to do was look in the camera and don’t smile.
I haven’t been able to work on personal projects or shoot in the streets lately because the past few months have been crazy busy for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a number of commissioned shoots – ranging from the usual portraiture to something I haven’t done before like sports photography and shooting in a spa.
One of my dream projects when I started my interest in portrait photography was to shoot different people in different parts of Singapore. It was one of those ideas that I had at the back of my mind that I wanted to eventually pursue as a personal project. Fortunately, I got to do exactly that on a commissioned shoot.
A few months ago, I got a message from Kelly, a project manager of a design agency in San Francisco – Tolleson Design. They were interested in buying a couple of photographs from my Portraits of Strangers set to use for a project they’re doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any release forms for any of the portraits, so using it for commercial purposes wasn’t possible. So instead, they commissioned me to create a new set of portraits with the same aesthetic.
Stranger #77 was one of the most strikingly beautiful face I’ve photographed in my Portraits of Strangers project. So when I decided to do this “Strangers Revisited” project, she was an obvious choice. And when Atika agreed to do a photo shoot with me, I was so ecstatic yet pretty nervous at the same time.
I’ve always wanted to dive into portraiture, and my previous Portraits of Strangers project served as my personal transition from candid street shooting to portraiture. Looking back at project, I later decided to create a new series of photo shoots by revisiting some of the strangers I photographed. Thanks to my facebook page, I was able to contact some of them.
Photo above taken by photography hobbyist Paulo Legaspi
About a month ago, I was invited by street photographer Eric Kim to be a guest writer for his blog. He wanted me to write a few tips on shooting street portraits. Although I’ve already blogged about my thoughts and experiences while working on my Portraits of Strangers project, I haven’t really provided any direct tips on how to work on a project like this. So I started writing down a few quick tips based on what worked for me. I’d like to share this article with you guys. Hope this helps :)
While I was working on my Portraits of Strangers project last year, I got an email with the subject: “Hey there… a mail from Ad-Land in Singapore.” Much to my surprise, the email was from Steve Elrick, Regional Executive Creative Director of BBH Asia Pacific. He came across my portraits series from a link in Facebook which lead back to my blog. He asked if I could drop by to have a chat and “see if there’s a project we could perhaps get you involved with in the future.”
I went “holy sh*t…”
Every time I’m out in the streets, I would often encounter faces that make me look twice… faces that just stood out of the crowd without even trying… faces that are by no means ordinary. They range from the exquisitely beautiful to the strangely wonderful. Sometimes I would try to steal a shot without being too intrusive, most times I just stand there wishing I had the balls to just approach them and ask for their portrait. Thanks to my lucky stars … I eventually grew those balls to do so.
I was walking along Orchard when I saw her walking towards my direction. She was wearing a simple one-piece dress, and was quite tall almost towering over most of the people around her. I wasn’t decided yet if I wanted to shoot her, but as I got closer, I knew I had to – she had this subtle angelic charm. My heart started to pound… it always does whenever I’m about to approach a stranger for their portrait. I stopped her and asked if I could take her picture. She smiled and said "Oh, street style." I chuckled a "yeah…", relieved that she understood what I was doing.… Read more