Open Category, Third Place
During the Circuit Breaker period, I decided to try out another genre of photography as shooting outside of one’s home was prohibited. Hence, I resorted to photographing my lunch and dinner takeaways such as this Biryani set from Chop Chop Biryani, who specialises in Pork Biryani, which showed the perfect marriage of Chinese and Indian cuisine. It was indeed a steep learning curve, having to deal with external light sources and plating for the first time. Nonetheless, it was indeed a fulfilling journey trying something new and I will remember this journey forever.
- Tell us more about what inspired your entry?
During the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker period, outdoor photography activities were not allowed to protect the health and safety of everyone. With some extra time on hand after my semester concluded, I browsed through YouTube and Instagram for some inspirations and was inspired the food photos taken by all the food photographers out there.
- How does your entry connect to you personally to the theme This Is My Story?
Cooking and Photography were hobbies which I enjoyed all along independently, but never together until the circuit breaker period, where I tried food photography for the first time, from preparing the dish to styling it and finally, taking the shot.
- How did you conceptualise your shot? Did you use any specific techniques to achieve certain effects in your shot?
This shot was conceptualise through experimenting with different styles and camera settings to achieve the desired effect. In order to get a proper lighting source, I invested in a small soft box to diffuse the light and used items such as white cards and cake boards which was available in my house to try and bounce the light in different direction. However, as I only had speedlights, the light source was not continuous, and I could only see the shot after taking it. Nonetheless, it was a good learning experience on how lighting can affect the final image drastically.
- Was there any external inspiration behind your shot that you have used as reference?
Some of the videos I watched on YouTube were from famous food photographer, Joanie Simon. I would recommend her videos to learn how to make your own photography surfaces, which are a good alternative to ready-made surfaces. I also drew inspiration from local food photographer Alexander Ow via his Spices project photo series.
- Obviously you are a photographer whose creative vision is not limited by your gear. Any advice for those starting out?
I used to believe that good gear would translate to better photos, but that is not true. Ultimately, it boils down to how one utilizes the tools that he/she already owns to achieve the desired photo. In fact, I would recommend fixing the focal length as a practice to improve one’s creativity and see things from different perspectives.
- Why did you think that a series of photos would work better than a single photo?
I wanted to showcase the various food items available from a hawker store selling Chinese and Indian fusion food and I felt that one photo was insufficient showcase the available selections.
- How did the use of post-processing enhance the storytelling ability of your entries?
Post-processing should be complementary to the workflow. A poorly baked cake topped with delicious icing would unlikely taste as good as a well baked cake topped with delicious icing. In this set of photos, I tried my best to get the composition and lighting right in camera and use post-processing software such as Capture One and Photoshop for colour adjustments and minor corrections.
- If you had the chance to retake your shot(s), what would you do differently?
I will consider experimenting with different lighting effects and maybe style the set a little differently by perhaps including more powder spices.
About the Photographer
- When, how, and why did you get into photography?
I bought my first camera just one and a half years ago, after returning from a six-month university exchange in Europe. I documented that trip with my iPhone and got into exploring different compositions but faced tremendous difficulties capturing night scene and long exposure shots. Thus, I decided to get a camera to start things off and the rest was history.
- Do you define yourself by any particular style(s) of photography? If so, what are they and why?
I would not say that I gravitate towards a certain style. However, I enjoy exploring different genres of photography. In fact, I enjoy challenging myself creatively by restricting the lenses that I can use for certain situations. One example would be during my trip to Chiang Mai in December 2019, where I challenged myself to document the entire trip with an 85mm prime lens.
- How has your photographic journey been affected by COVID-19? Are you more inspired to take more photos? Have the restrictions hindered, or conversely enhanced your creativity?
Albert Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies an opportunity” and I feel that this is true not just for photography, but for everything happening around us right now. Personally, even though I enjoy cooking, I never photographed my cooking until this period, where I developed the patience to style the food and experiment with different settings for the first time and developed a deeper interest for this genre.
- What are your photographic goals after Montage 2020?
Circuit Breaker has sparked my interest in Food Photography, and I hope to pursue this genre of photography further through building up a collection of different dishes (takeaways, home cooked meals), spices, fruits, and vegetables, etc. If given the opportunity, I would like to meet other professional food photographers in the industry to learn some tips from them on food styling and lighting.
- Geoff Ang: Well composed and well lit!
- Alexander Ow: Great composition and illustrative efforts depicting Asian food.
- Elliot Lee: This series showed some of the best technically executed shots this year. Lighting and composition are impressive. I suppose it's missing some storytelling that could have helped with this year's theme.