Interview done with William Oh, a professional travel photograph who is also my first sponsor when I first arrived in Singapore and my friend Adrian’s Dad. At his Singapore home during the very busy Chinese New Year celebration, I can’t miss the opportunity to taste his wife’s delicious duck soup. William likes to put a bit too much of brandy, the special ingredient, in my bowl.
I am professional photographer and a travel photograph; I work at Nanyang University of Singapore for 32 years now
I started by painting. In secondary school I switched over to photography because painting is very time consuming. Photography is more direct
Yeah I took Applied Arts and photography was one of the modules. I was contacted by Singapore government.
Fine arts was not very popular at the time when you started but now it is pretty big!
Yes it was pretty punk for that time. I wanted to go to Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts but at the end I went to a government school for Applied Arts.
I like street photography, I like to take portraits, I like to take expressions of people and also I like nature close ups.I like photography with people, first is people in their element.
Yes I was fortunate to have two mediums to work with. I started with analog. At that time we have film and I use medium format, 25mm large format. It is little bit clumsy and you have to know the system. I also worked in the dark room, black and white. I still like black and white. It is an art to develop black and white, negative print. I do color printing too. Now i do digital because it is quick. In fact everyone has a camera, everyone can take picture even a child but the skill still in analog. It is the way to know if someone is a real photographerbecause in that time not many people will take pictures. A lot of people were taking pictures but they never developed them. Now every minute, every second someone takes pictures. Before digital it was more marginal.
I started with Nikon and now i still like Nikon. I have also other cameras like Leica and Hazelblet. Nikon got a whole range of accessories, lens and filter.
Yeah is it…
If someone wants to send you one, you will be happy (he he )
Tripod. The other one is the lens. It is the major thing.
No I don’t use flash often, because flash is flat, the shadows are flat, the natural light gives you more definition unless you want studio pictures. Without flash you are more mobile, people act more natural.
I do but not quite often, only when i have no choice. The more you retouch the more you add noise or grain.
Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Brunei, China, Vietnam, India, Moscow, Germany, Mongolia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, so many places!
Normally I go to blogs, forums and read about what people write about the place. Blogs are like the bible with real feedback by real people.
That gives you a good idea what to cover before going.
Normally you talk to them, for children give some sweet but for villagers you talk to them and they are very happy but certain Arab countries you’re not allow to take pictures. Some countries like India or Philippines when your take out your camera, everyone will come and pose for you. It is a good idea to show your camera before shooting. In Arab countries the women will go away from you.
One of them is Myanmar, I applied for my visa and I put photographer as my profession on the application form. And they rejected my demand. So I changed my status to retiree and I got accepted.
For you it was a great experience because not a lot of people can go there, you like to go where the majority of people don’t go. Myanmar (Burma) is great as it is still rustic, it will change very fast soon when they start to modernize.
Yeah North Korea is interesting, the other one is Cuba
I like to visit Cuba, Havana, Kazakhstan maybe North Korea
In China I was taking a public bus and I was seating next to a guy in a corner. I was sleeping and he cut my jeans, because my wallet, is not a wallet is just a small pouch. He tried to take it but it was attached to a nylon string. When the bus stopped he tried to remove the wallet but it was stuck so he ran away. I’m always prepared for any situation
Yes, this year, this August I will have a book at my university containing all my work. This will be my second book.
Definitively before that I got two solo exhibitions, I am a grand self-discovery artist,I won some contest at National Geographic . Recently I won a price in the new paper. These are one of my few prizes.
You need to give me the reference, I will show to people, good I am very proud of you
You may have problems with your visa. So it is good that people when they visit closed countries, even if they are photographer ,don’t say that or write that . Say that you are a student, never mention about media or they might get suspicious and think that you come to for work
You have to shoot a lot, the more you shoot the more you look at the picture, the more you begin to know what is good and then you try to move away from what people normally do, try to find your own way of doing things, build your own style, try to be more authentic.
I want to have an exhibition, I can exchange with some artist who comes to Singapore for exposure. I want to have a green book made with recycled things I like things recycled.
Probably you want to push your real art in the next future?
Yes for now it is more for the university. I want to show my artist side soon and be a full time artist and travel photograph.
So I wish you good luck and I will try to help you show your talents to our readers and other networks on the Net
This post is also available in: French