Kenny Loh is a renown photographer and author of the book Born in Malaysia. His signature is his personal approach to every shot he takes. He often spend hours talking to his subjects before pressing the shutter for that “good enough” picture. Driven by passion he continues to tell interesting visual stories.
1. What is the most challenging part of your creative work, taking photos and making visual stories?
I am not a technical photographer so I tend to keep my sessions fast and unobtrusive. This comes from experience. The photography session is never intrusive as I’ve usually found the angles that I want before the interview. Although I do speak with strangers easily, the initial part of introducing myself is the hardest.There are times when I’ll walk a few times around the entrance to a shop before I summon enough courage to go inside and ask for an interview
2. How much of the results you achieve is due to talent or learnt skill? How do you ensure that you are constantly learning and improving?
Basic photography is something you can learn from any school. The technical aspects at least. There’s also all these rules for composition which I have never learnt or have learnt but forgotten it. I believe that in photography, you do reach a point where you either move forward and create great photographs or you end up shooting mediocre stuff.
Having to keep on learning and improving is a given. A little bit of insecurity is good as this causes one to work harder. I subscribe to magazines that I consider to have good photography but I don’t browse websites like Flickr where many photographers post their work.
A lot of my learning is about telling a story better. This means I am constantly finding ways for a photograph or a series of photographs to illustrate my stories better.
3. How do you know when it is good enough? Especially when you click multiple shots. How much of other people’s opinions matter?
Knowing that I have the shot is instinctive. Through experience, I know when the photograph is good enough. However, I usually shoot multiple angles if time permits.
For example, I have just completed photography for a book. There are thousands of photographs to go through.
What I have done is choose a series of 5 photographs and have the book designer choose the final photograph. When you are so involved in the subject, you tend to assume that everyone sees what I see. So having a second pair of eyes is important. And yeah, other people’s opinion matters. I don’t think this dilutes my work in any way.