How my photographic journey began – a short autobiography, part two

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The hunchback of Kuala Lumpur has a Hasselblad.

Continued from part one.

My return to London immediately after that trip saw me a) dispose of the D70 and purchase a supposedly more robust D2H – in reality, I just liked the way it felt in my hands – and also begin to seriously explore Photoshop and Wacom tablets; by the time my D2H arrived in the mail, I’d decided I’d only shoot raw and focus on extracting as much detail as possible out of those relatively small files. That camera was not a forgiving one: get everything right, and it rewarded you with images beyond what you’d expect for the pixel count; get it wrong and you can pretty much junk the file. It taught me shot discipline and the importance of getting as much right in-camera as possible; these traits have continued to serve me well today. Unfortunately, the camera met a watery end after shooting in a tropical downpour in Kuala Lumpur two years later in 2006; I opened the battery compartment indoors and failed to consider condensation. A zapping sound and puff of smoke later, and I’d pretty much toasted the internals. By that point though, I’d shot enough frames – heading towards a quarter million on its second shutter – and jobs with that camera that it’d a) paid for itself several times over, and b) made me learn more about photography than anything else since.

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How my photographic journey began – a short autobiography, part one

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You’d think that after 13 years of this I’d have mastered the art of camwhoring for decent self-portrait, but no. At least the collage shows two things: firstly, a relative progression of personal style over the years, secondly, that file sizes have continued to balloon…all of these are at the correct relative size to each other. Also, that I’ve gone through a hell of a lot of gear. You might even spot a Canon in there if you look closely enough.

Today’s topic is a rather personal one, but something which has been asked with remarkable frequency: how did I get into photography in the first place? I’ve been shooting seriously for the better part of thirteen years; taking commercial assignments on and off since 2005, and full-time pro for the fourth time since the beginning of last year (2012).

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Maybank Photo Awards 2013: a few tips for competition entrants…


Come to think of it, this post should really be titled “Tips for entering photography competitions”. As a judge, I’ve frequently been asked what we look for when assessing images; beyond that, how can you increase your chances of winning? Today’s post will talk a bit about both the mechanics behind the scenes, as well as a little strategy.

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PayPal, margin pressure and the small business perspective

A few days ago, I received an email from PayPal informing me that some of their terms and conditions of service had changed – ostensibly to ‘ensure high standards of service continue to be maintained’. I read that immediately as a greedy grab: turns out I was right. Buried in the fine print of the changes were a bunch of rate amendments, effective 10 Sep 2013, that now make the cost of receiving payments in my part of the world anywhere up to 6% plus a fixed fee (for commercial payments that fall into the “International micro payments for digital goods” category, which includes my videos). On top of this, there’s a ‘micropayment fixed fee’ of MYR2.00 (US$0.65). And then there’s a 4% currency conversion fee to Malaysian Ringgit on conversion. And a further 2.5% added to the exchange rate when you withdraw the funds to your bank account. Very cunningly, they don’t provide a like-for-like fee comparison, either. That’s a grand total of anywhere up to 12.5% PLUS RM2.00. Previously, I calculated the net cost of using PayPal at about 5% inclusive of FX; a merchant credit card terminal would be around 3%. Given the long payment times for credit card providers and relative discomfort of people using cards overseas, I elected to stay with PayPal for the time being – lousy service and lack of regulation notwithstanding. See why this has now become a problem?

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Choice, compromise and creativity

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What do these two things have in common, other than they’re from (very, very loosely, give or take a decade) the same era?

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Taking stock

_5019362 copy Time for a breather.

For those of you who are curious about what I do, (and also so I don’t forget)…as far as I can determine, here’s the current list of my regular activities. I’ve found that I certainly can’t do the same one thing for long, and there’s definite value in having inspiration from many sources.

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Last day for the print sale

Final selection

I’ll be closing orders for the limited edition print run at the end of today – if you would like a print, please see the details below. Thanks!

Remember, I will only print these images once, at this size. Ever. Once this run is complete, there will be no more prints. 

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The limited edition print run – now closed

Final selection

And the people have spoken: following the voting, I’m pleased to be able to offer four images as a very limited print run. And when I say limited, I mean limited:

I will only print these images once, at this size. Ever. Once this run is complete, there will be no more prints.

Interested? Read on to order.

Update: orders closed today with a total of 52 prints – a result beyond what I hoped for; thank you all for your support! I spent the day supervising printing and signing prints; they’ll ship in the next few days and should arrive within the next couple of weeks thereafter.

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Announcing a limited edition print sale – vote for your favourite images

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Following on from the results of that survey on the direction of this site several months back, it seems that there is definitely some interest in a limited run of prints: how many, exactly, I have no idea. But in collaboration with local master printer Wesley Wong of Giclee Art (he does all of my exhibition and commercial printing, and a good number of other major local pros), I’m pleased to open up a print offer for my readers from my body of work from the first half of this year. If this is a success – and of course I hope it is – I think it may well turn into a biannual or quarterly affair.

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Garage sale time – UPDATE: All sold, thanks!


I’ve got far too much stuff in my dryboxes; it’s time to let somebody else enjoy the bits of gear I’m not using. Up for sale today, we have five items; prices are in USD excluding shipping (depends on where and how you’d like it sent, of course) but including PayPal fees (you can use a credit card, too; let me know and I’ll send you a checkout link). Everything is in perfect working order and has been QC’d by me personally. If you’re interested in any of the items or have a question, please email me. Same goes if you think my prices are out of whack – make me an offer! Thanks, MT

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