How to be a better Photographer?

I think I am bringing this up because of I have been plateauing for a while now.

My skills in photography hasn’t gotten better though my shots that I took for weddings are.

However, I still have this minor inkling of dissatisfaction in my photographs. I think there are still a lot of things I can learn in photography to better myself. I guess a few of the things that I have to take note are composition and lighting. They are two main pillars of photography in my opinion. My eye for composition has improved tremendously I think, however, it is still lacklustre in comparison. Lighting too. I want to learn how to set up a solid three-point lighting, moody lighting and such.

Another weakness of mine is Photoshop. As of now, I am using that app as a ‘Paint on Steroids’ which is not right. There are many functionalities that I do not know how to use and I think I need to familiarise myself with the different tools that are available. If I can improve my skills in Photoshop, I think it will open a gateway for me to experiment more in design and typography which I love.

hmm…

I better not procrastinate on this.

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can I just be honest?

i don’t feel motivated at all.

i have these 3 hours left before my lab and i am procrastinating.

i don’t feel motivated nor have any energy to do something that uses my brain.

i am drained.

this emotion that i am feeling is not helping at all.

i guess you can say that i am sad and disappointed.

i just want to go home to recharge and watch youtube videos.

sigh.

What do I desire?

Two questions:

  1. What do I desire?
  2. Have I developed as a person?

To be honest, I do not have an answer for either of these questions because I feel that I am currently stuck in the middle between going with what I want and going with what is practical.

What I want is to start a business. Why? Because I feel that entrepreneurship will allow me to have the freedom to make the calls and do what I want, when I want it. Even though entrepreneurship will take up a lot of the time especially in the beginning stages trying to get a solid foundation, I feel that the agency to make decisions is much more appealing to me. Furthermore, I do not want to be tied up to a boss and answering his every wants and needs despite the fact that it can give me a peace of mind with regards to making ends meet. Why? I feel that for me, money is secondary. There will always be ways to earn money and there are many ways to. However, the way we earn money also has to be sustainable and fulfilling, if not, I’ll just be digging my grave even before I start to die. However, I feel that there are many risks that are involved. Firstly, it is a long and lonely road. As of now, my parents do not support such endeavours and because of that I am tied down to either being a loyal child and follow what they say or risk everything else. Secondly, I have an inkling that she does not want me to take risks too. I guess it is because of the high chance of failure involved. I mean their reasonings are justified but I don’t think I can live with myself if I do not try?

Here comes the dilemma. The situation that I am in now calls for one of two decisions. Do I put in the money to prepare for a wedding or shall I put in the money to growing my business? Why do I say that? I have been single for very long and the attitudes and characteristics that I have in the past 23 years are that of a single man. I make decisions on my own and I decide to buy things that I want to buy without anyone weighing me down (or disagreeing with me). However, now, I have to consider not spending the money because of where I should place my priorities. It doesn’t make me happy. Does it? I don’t know. I guess that the money I have should definitely put into something more productive and functioning such as an investment or savings for the wedding but I do have savings! How should I convince her that I have everything figured out? I don’t know to be honest. Aside from that what do I actually want in the near future? Do I want to get married or get on with my merry life living as I had lived? I don’t know. Now, what I can see that the wedding (not the marriage) is preventing me from developing anything that I want to develop because of the huge costs that it has. I mean even if I start to work, the heavy cost of it will cause a lot of my projects to be pushed behind. I am willing to work hard for it but am I able to get past the emotions?

What if I can? I guess if so, then I need more patience on how to move forward and juggle both a family and a business while working full time. It is going to be lonely and hard but I guess I just need a social support which I cannot get from my family. It is sad I know but I guess it is just not us to overcommunicate our emotions to one another.

Regardless, even in the situation where I have enough money to get married and whatnot, I do not think I am in the emotional state and capacity to get married. I realised that I would just be following my nafs and that whatever that I get in during that stage will just be a disaster for me in the future. It will be toxic as to what I want and what she wants will not align. I might feel trapped because I think I am? I don’t know how does one define being trapped but the situation of always trying to be on the good side and treading a thin line between triggering and not triggering every single day is painful. Sometimes I feel as if I do not have the luxury to be myself. However, I do agree that I am rude at times and speak when I’m not supposed to. I do not act the way I should act to a partner and behave in a way that is supportive and caring? I guess I’ve never known such emotions because I always ‘suck it up’. I learned that ‘sucking it up’ doesn’t always work as an advice. I guess if I am willing, I need to brush up on my social skills.

Hais.

I guess I have everything to lose. Everything. She has everything I feel disappointed in myself for not being on par with her. Sometimes I feel that she is too good for me. I literally have nothing. My talent is a side result of my interest in photography and that in itself is not a talent. I am not religiously strong because I feel myself slipping away, my iman dropping to sh** levels as of late and furthermore, I am not good in the religion in terms of extra prayers, recitation of the Quran and the like. Furthermore, I am not even good-looking nor have an interesting personality. I tend to be emotionless and stoic most of the time and very lax in my decision-making. I am a blob of disappointment.

I wonder, “how can I ever match up to her?”

Despite the fact that she always says that she is not any good but facts are facts. She is everything. To be honest, I do not even know what she sees in me. I am a nobody with nothing to hold, not even my word. Hais.

If she were to leave me, I wouldn’t be surprised. I would be heartbroken but that’s all there is to it. I guess she might be happier too.

Last night, I realised that, ‘She deserved someone better.’

This is very true. I guess there are better people that can complement her and her family than me and if her parents also know as to how I operate, I guess they would be very disappointed too and urge her to find someone else.

Like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Gosh.

Do we develop one another?

I doubt so. I really doubt so. It has been a struggle to maintain this gray area of ‘untriggering’.

I am willing though. Despite all the emotions that I am feeling right now, I guess I am willing to change and to be better but it takes time and heck am I not patient. I don’t know.

I don’t know…

A stake in this

This is not the future that we want.

After looking into the trash bin, I realised that most of the trash are made up of disposables, disposables that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Plastic cups, straws, cartons and the like are just thrown away after it has been used for a mere few minutes. Compared to the amount of energy and resources needed to make it, it is ridiculous how dependent we are on disposables.

However, I cannot blame anyone because it is convenient, quick and efficient. It is cheap and also provides us with comfort. Who would want to carry around heavy reusables? Wouldn’t it be easier to buy and then discard once it is not needed? No washing nor hassle needed.

I realised this after I become more conscious of the waste that I am producing. In Singapore, it is especially hard as everything is covered in plastic and there is no significant movement to reduce plastic waste anywhere. Aside from the iReject Straws campaign, there seemed to be no progress in terms of the use of disposables. Plastic and paper cups are still used in cafes and fast food restaurants, bottled water and drinks are everywhere etc. It is especially hard because we live in a society where the cheapest option is just to buy in plastic bottles and things that are wrapped in plastic wrappers. Everything is.

To go minimal waste is a struggle but to go zero waste is highly improbable. I mean after trying it out for a single day, I too find it hard to not produce any sort of waste whatsoever and to not produce waste means that I had to forgo convenience which is not something that I can afford in a rapid lifestyle that is Singapore. Furthermore, sometimes you just want to eat something and unfortunately, like EVERYTHING ELSE, it comes in a plastic packaging. Therefore, I feel that the more practical way to navigate this wastage dilemma in Singapore is to be more aware of the waste that we produce. Aside from the immense amount of paper waste we produce in schools to the food waste and packaging trash that we produce, what we can do is to be more aware to pick the minimal waste option. Bring reusables instead of opting for the disposable option. Bring bottles instead of buying bottled water. Dine in instead of take-out and there are many more ways for us to reduce wastage.

I am new to this journey and the struggles that I am facing is a struggle for many of the new adopters in this area. It might sometimes be awkward and it might sometimes be tough but we all have a stake in this which is to make the world a cleaner place.

Single-use Plastics

I have been on an eco-friendly spree lately watching Youtube videos on wastage and the amount of waste every person produces each day and I realised that we are really producing a lot per person.

The amount of waste we produce might not be clear to us because it has become something that is normal for us. We use single-use plastics every single day from the food we eat to our packaging when we purchase our essentials. We are not aware of the damage that single-use plastics do to our environment because it has become the norm and we cannot get away from it. The use of plastics have completely integrated into our society and the way we live our lives that without it, it would be very inconvenient for us and I think that is the fundamental problem. The use of plastics made it so much more convenient to live as a human. We no longer need to bring our own bags to the supermarket because it will be provided for us. We no longer need to bring our utensils to each and dine because any fast food restaurant will provide it for us. We no longer need to bring our own mugs and have the hassle of carrying it around because cafes will provide it for us. We no longer need to burden ourselves with so many ‘unnecessary’ things because it will be provided for us.

We have gotten so used to the idea of using single-use plastics that we are inherently trapped in that mindset, a mindset that pampers us.

I am not calling us to drastically change our lifestyles because that is VERY difficult especially in Singapore where the non-use of single-use plastics is a huge hassle on the part of the consumer. However, what I am trying to do is for us to be more aware of our usage of single-use plastics. To be more aware of the processes of making single-use plastics and the amount of waste that we produce from it. Imagine how much resources are needed to make that plastic cup: from the oil fields to the transportation to the factories etc. The cup then ends up in your hands and after weeks of using so much resources, you end up only using it for a few minutes and discarding it right after.

I am trying to be more conscious on my use of single-use plastics but I cannot deny that it is very hard. It surrounds us and every aspect of our lives. Well, I guess it is a step-by-step process.

What else can I do?

Boredom is painful.

I’m sure everyone has experienced that before; you forgot to bring your phone out with you or misplaced your headphones and you’re forced to sit in the train quietly, staring into the buzzing people around…

That is one of the reasons why we tend to gravitate towards our phones when we are bored, forever scrolling through feeds.

Anyway, is it only me but do you get the sickly feeling after scrolling through social media just to procrastinate? It feels like the aftertaste of spoilt milk? That mind-numbing activity of filling up the time because we are bored does not bring us any benefit at all let alone improve our social lives. Therefore, I have a hypothesis. We gravitate towards our phones/social media because we are bored and we do so to alleviate the pain that comes with boredom. Scrolling through social media provides us with that small dopamine bursts that make us feel better albeit just a short period of time. However, over time, those dopamine bursts no longer work and we become numb to the effects of social media and so we scroll for far longer just to get that same amount of pleasure and with it the more loss of time.

Because we are bored, many things change in our brain chemistry and going into social media is not making it any better. So the question is, how do we alleviate the boredom without numbing our brains to the pleasure chemical? That is a very good question.

Whatever that comes next comes from a point of self-reflection and evaluation.

I experience that sickly feeling after using social media even now. It becomes a reflex whenever I am bored to click on Instagram and look at what others are doing. However, one day, I realised that social media does not bring me joy anymore and wanting to know about the lives of others does not bring me the same benefit as before. I started to feel disgusted for scrolling through it and falling for the ‘twitch’. So, I listened to some advice on how to stop the ‘twitch’. I changed my screen to grayscale. It worked. I was not interested at all to look at my phone because the colour just puts me off. I started to use my phone less and the already depleted pleasure of using social media falls deeper. Photographs in black and white are not really captivating unless intended for such a purpose. Anyway, there come to a point where I was so put off by the colour scheme that it becomes painful. Why? I guess it was because my brain is trying to put colour into the photographs that it is working twice as hard to analyse what I was looking at. It gets exhausting to look at grayscale after a while so I decided to change it back partly due to that and partly due to the nature of my social life.

Anyway, I took to reading. Reading has always been one of my favourite past time. A good book and some coffee (woah… I really want a gooood cup of coffee right now) always alleviates stress for me. Once I set a goal to read 4 books in a month, which I kind of achieved really made my days more intentional. I didn’t suffer from the ‘twitch’ and my days felt more productive. So, that’s good recommendation I feel.

Also, waking up at 5am every single day is super effective in terms of productivity. I realised that once you get the ball rolling early in the day, you tend to be more productive throughout the day, ticking off checklists hour by hour. It was amazing. (I think I’m going to write a separate post on that).

Regardless, everyone has their own way of filling up their time from reading to sleeping. However, scrolling through social media or the like is something that I would strongly recommend against. It does not bring you benefit nor does it fulfils you.

Not an Aesthetic

I’m sure everyone now knows about the slowly growing lifestyle movement that is Minimalism. With the increasing awareness of the lifestyle with bloggers and Youtubers that preach it, normal people are trying to find their way in applying such a lifestyle into their everyday life. However, the video argued that the lifestyle movement that is supposed to reduce waste and save the Earth is starting to become something less of that and more of a status symbol.

There are definitely some people who are true minimalist who lives their lives following the minimalism mindset because it helps them to focus and not to be caught up in the consumerist culture, however, there are also some people who adopt the minimalism lifestyle so that they can find an excuse to purchase expensive things for ‘quality’. Not only that, by doing so, they flaunt their purchases online and depict this lifestyle as something that is exclusive and aesthetically pleasing.

Definitely, Minimalism in itself has an aesthetic that appeals to certain groups of people and by following such a lifestyle, one can achieve it. However, when one forgets the purpose of such a lifestyle, it can go against the original philosophy of the lifestyle.

I am not hating on whoever that subscribes to the Minimalist lifestyle or any lifestyle for that matter. However, I am definitely against the hypocrisy that runs rampant in it. Whatever we do, we need to be aware of the purpose and our intentions behind it because if we are not careful, we might be caught red-handed doing the opposite of what we say we are doing.