The Cool Things You Do as a Photographer

There are many good things about being a professional photographer, one of which is getting to meet all kinds of people whom you would not have met in an office. The list could go on, but today it’s about the access to special places.

I’ve been photographing for HRM Magazine for 5 years now, getting to visit the mega-offices and factories of some very well-known companies like Samsung, UPS, Pratt & Whitney, among others. One of the more memorable ones was for Lufthansa Airlines. Since they had something that most other companies would not (duh!), we straight up asked if we could shoot with an actual plane.

At first, they said it wouldn’t be possible.

That’s because at Singapore’s Changi Airport, they did not have their own hangar, and the tarmac at the gate is off-limits since everyone boards the plane through the sky bridge. We were naturally disappointed, but were ready to get some nice shots in the plane itself.

Surprisingly on the day of the shoot, the authorities let us enter onto the tarmac via the ground floor. It was something unusual and awkward as we trudged our gear along the lane, making sure not to obstruct any processes. 

We reached the gate, and there the gigantic A380 was parked in front of us. With us on the ground looking up, the plane looked even more impressive (and a little ominous). My assistant and I quickly did a single light setup with the Profoto B1, and we fired several shots on a few poses. 

Shoots like these make the job exciting and full of hope. There’s an anticipation to make something special when our collaborators or clients are open-minded and willing to try a new look. I still think back fondly to this shot, and hope that there’ll be something even more exciting ahead. Interestingly, since that day, I’ve not had the chance to travel (by flying). Again, I hope that will change soon, perhaps for an overseas assignment? 

In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the ride. 

How to Win a Free Photoshoot (this offer doesn’t expire!)

I’m continually inspired by the amazing ideas and photos out there - and I’m sure you are too! 

Big concepts can come with big prices. You’ve seen behind-the-scenes commercial productions, with large sets and a huge crew, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

If you have a great visual idea (with you as the star), I’m offering you a free photoshoot, completely 0 cost and a promise there is no sales pitch at the end of it. You’ll end up with 3 or more finely edited photos for your own personal use and keepsake. 

All you have to do are these two things:

1. Follow my Instagram page. 

2. Write to me with your idea on my Contact page.

That’s it! By the way, as long as you’re reading this, this promotion is still ongoing. I will pick the most conceptually exciting idea every 2 weeks and start shooting! 

Do note that as I am based in Singapore, photoshoots will have to be done here unless we can work out something on the travel costs. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

3 Reasons a Freelance Photographer Better is Better than a Creative Agency

How often have you booked a service, and someone you’ve never met comes to do the work? I’m guessing almost every time. Big companies or agencies tend to do that. You begin to feel like the woman above, kidnapped into an awkward situation that likely doesn’t end well.

It doesn’t have to be that way. No matter the brand behind the service you’ve engaged, you should be happy with the result. There are a few big reasons why you should consider engaging a freelancer instead of going for big-box, do-it-all production houses.

1. Work Directly with the Freelancer

With big projects involving creative work, you’d want the photographer/cinematographer to understand the vision completely. Imagine it’s the day of the shoot, and a stranger pops up. It’s not the person whom you spoke to, shared coffee, or signed a contract with. Both you and the stranger are on a different wavelength, and disagreements erupt. 

Freelancers, on the other hand, wear all hats. We own the business, manage the finance, post on social media, and close the sale. At every stage, freelancers are there all the way. There are no surprises, at least in the operational side of things. There will always be a healthy, creative tussle during the shoot, but the results will be better because of it.

Skeptics sometimes are worried that a freelancer isn’t as ‘professional’ as an agency. To them the presence of a privatised company entity is more credible than a solo freelancer. That’s not true. Freelancers may operate differently in terms of accounting, but they are just as professional and proud of their work.

2. Keep Costs Lower

Agencies rack up huge overheads because of their office and full-time staff. To keep the lights running, agencies need high turnover every month. It’s a grind and a churn.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are literally “free” to work anywhere. The world is our studio. And not just for photographers, but many creatives often work on-location or in a public space. This keeps overheads low apart from the equipment (such as cameras, computers) upkeep. Because of that, freelancers often charge lower than an agency, with the only exception being niche specialists.

It’s also a well known fact that agencies mark up prices for every service they offer to the client. So if an agency hires a creative or photographer, you’d be paying significantly more than what the freelancer would charge you directly.

3. Freelancers Give More Personal Attention

We’ve already established that agencies are quite massive machines. Their executives juggle multiple accounts to keep the cash flowing. When things get busy, the account managers can’t dedicate all their time to you. It then becomes a PR game.

As a freelancer, we work with one client at a time. In essence, all our attention is focused on you and your project. Yes, when the work is done, we move on to the next project. But that way, we put 100% of our time and effort into what’s in front of us.

And unlike salaried executives at an agency, freelancers control their own time. Personally, I do not take on more than I can chew. When I signed on with a project, I ensure that my time, effort and heart are committed to the job.

What Can You Do?

Firstly, forget pre-conceived notions of freelancers or agencies. You may already have a preference for one or another, but now keep an open mind. 

Do some research, and get in touch with photographers from both sides. By talking to them, you get a clearer picture on who best fits your needs. A massive project with high production values often favour the agencies. But freelancers often get the ball (i.e. work) rolling quickly and produce good and quick results.

If you are looking for a freelance photographer, I’m always open to concept discussions and a quick verbal quote. Your needs are most important, and I’ll be able to advise on the right arrangement for both of us.