Tag Archives: commercial and editorial photographer

Hmong girls look longingly at balloons for sale in Sapa, Vietnam. Photo by Aloha Lavina.


Being published may not be everybody’s dream, but I’ve read somewhere in David DuChemin’s excellent book “Visionmongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography” that almost everyone who picks up a camera for the first time and enjoys using it invariably, perhaps fleetingly, see their name as a byline for a published photograph. Whether you are a beginner who is venturing into the steep learning curve for a photography newbie or someone who’s been shooting for a while, there is a way for you to explore your love for photography in greater depth, and to share your images  with an audience other than your family and friends.

At some point in your journey into image making, you might arrive at the proverbial “crossroad” where you have to pause and think of where you want to head next. Should you attend that next workshop? Is going pro right for you? Should you quit your high-power job and become a pet photographer like Grace Chon? Or do you prefer to perfect your technique and creative skills so you can take gorgeous images of your travels for friends and family to ooh and ahh over?

Many DSLR owners do not think beyond using their cameras to record their special days, but if you have that buzz of excitement every time you go out with your camera, you probably will experience your re-vision: a moment of rediscovery that will bring insight into the kind of photographer you want to be.

In my own journey I’ve been through a few revisions of my goals. In the 1980s my only goal was mastering exposure with a manual film camera. Then in the 1990s it was getting used to digital format, with the freedom of changing ISO in the middle of the same shooting session. In the mid-2000s, I found myself doing a 180-degree turn from people-less architecture and lonely landscapes into full-blown portraiture mania. And now, just six years after my first digital camera, I am working some 35-40 hours a week as a freelance commercial and fashion photographer.

As the decade comes to a close, here I am again, reinventing myself by registering at the amazing MatadorU travel photographer’s course, and my first assignment is: what type of travel photographer do you want to be? It’s certainly a loaded question, and less than a 100 words makes this new vision a challenge.

Hmong girls look longingly at balloons for sale in Sapa, Vietnam. Photo by Aloha Lavina.

Then this morning, I woke up at 1.55 am on the western coast of Koh Chang in the South of Thailand. No one was awake at that hour; the beach was asleep. A stubborn wind rustled the palm leaves, and an almost full moon glowed, its faint light tracing a beautiful line across the water.

The answer to the question came to me. I am excited by light, and the way it behaves and makes every thing beautiful. Light is what excites me and pushes me to become a better photographer, whether in my commercial or editorial fashion work, my personal projects, or travel. So the kind of travel photographer I want to be is “someone who tells stories using light to take the audience to the three-dimensional moment captured in an image.”

What about you? What kind of photographer do you want to be? Tell us in your comments!

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