Everybody needs a hobby. It gives you a chance to do something care-free in your leisure time, helps you relax and get your mind off work. It’s pretty much play time for grown ups. In my case, I started taking pictures as a hobby. Photography was something I’ve always wanted to do for so long and I finally got to dabble in it when I moved here in Singapore 4 years ago.

So there I was, walking around Orchard Road on weekends trying to get good pictures. I was fanatically shooting as much as I can, relentlessly looking for inspiration, and eventually pushed myself to get better and better shots. I later realized with the amount of time and effort I was pouring, this was turning out to be far from the care-free relaxing avenue it was supposed to be. It started to feel like more than just a hobby.

A few months ago, I was invited to be a guest speaker in a session called Oblation Talks by the UPAAS (University of the Philippines Alumni Association) here in Singapore. The topic was about finding your passion. The keynote speaker, VJ Yamat, was a medical doctor who eventually found himself working as a PR specialist for an ad agency. He mentioned something that struck a chord… he believes that passion exists when attraction is coupled with friction.

Of course. When I started photography out of interest, it was all hunky dory. I was a kid with a new toy discovering new possibilities. But pretty quickly, I’ve grown easily unimpressed with my own shots. I guess that’s what happens when you constantly look at works of the classic and contemporary masters. From then on, it was a tough grind. I’d spend 3 to 4 hours walking in the street looking to capture that perfect moment. On normal days, I’d get zero keeper shots. On good days I’d get 1 or 2.

I always found it curious when some of my peers said how amazed they were at how ‘disciplined’ I was to do what I do. I never thought it about it that way. I just really wanted to do it. It wasn’t easy in account of the overwhelming randomness of the street, and the huge possibility of people thinking I was an inappropriate weirdo taking photos of strangers without permission. In many instances, I’ve seriously asked myself “why am I doing this again?” It was hard work. But I still kept at it. And kept loving it. I guess that’s where passion comes in.

Passion will push you to your limits. It will demand sacrifices and make it hard on you. But you won’t mind the hard work, because you know it will make you better. And when it pays off, it will surprise you with opportunities you’ve never even dreamed of. Trust me.

When I started this hobby, I just wanted to take good pictures. Getting paid for it didn’t really cross my mind. In fact, there was a point when I started to consider being a ‘poor artist’. This didn’t sit well with my girlfriend. I snapped out of it :)

Ultimately, for me, when you’re doing something that you really like, you might as well try to be very good at it. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?