Home : Interviews Photography : Howe Sim
Great pictures! Congrats! Please tell us about yourself. How did you inclined towards photography?
Unlike most photographers, I first developed an interest in the field at a relatively late point in my life. I had just completed medical school and was already doing my specialty training in Internal Medicine & Gastroenterology when I acquired my first digital point-and-shoot. Initially, I only used my camera when on vacation. Once I finished my postgraduate training, however, I found myself with a lot more free time on my hands. At the same time, digital camera technology was starting to advance at a much greater pace. These two factors led to my growing interest in photography. Before long, I was spending every spare minute shooting or learning how to see the world through the eyes of a photographer.
You have tried almost all type of Photography. How do you manage to do this?
This is due in large part to all the spare time I have. Rather than work full time in an office-based medical practice, I chose to moonlight as a medical consultant a couple nights a week. The rest of the time I am shooting. Through my desire to improve my skills as a photographer, I have tried my hand at many forms of photography: nature, landscape, portrait, black&white, infrared, macro, Lensbaby, etc.
What kind of photography do you like the most? What type of Photographer you would like to be called as?
I most enjoy travel photography, as it combines my dual interests in photography and in seeing the world. And I strongly believe that it is through seeing how the rest of the world lives that we come to appreciate how much we as North Americans are lucky to have but often take for granted.
How much emphasize on photography gears? What kind of equipments you use?
I personally use Nikon bodies, and have a D200, D70s, and a infrared-converted D100. I also generally stick with Nikon lenses, but also have a couple of third-party lenses (eg. Sigma, Lensbaby). I don't place too much importance on gear as far as the quality of one's photography is concerned. Much more important is being familiar with what ever equipment you use, particularly its limitations and weaknesses. Having said that, I strongly believe that any serious photographer should be shooting with an SLR, rather than a much more 'restrictive' point-and-shoot.
Please tell us your opinion about Film vs digital photography.
Having never owned a film camera, I cannot personally comment on the pros and cons of traditional film-based photography. I owe my interest in photography to the development of digital camera technology. I believe that for the most part, digital photography is a natural progression from film-based photography in our technology-rich society. The fact that almost all professional photographers have made the switch to digital equipment supports my contention. And even those who stick with film-based equipment still end up scanning their slides or negatives into a computer on which they later edit and manipulate their images. So in a sense, virtually all imaging these days is to some extent 'digital'.
In addition, I feel that the advent of digital cameras (as well as the proliferation of the world wide web) has allowed many fledgling photographers to popularize and advertise their work globally, something not previously available to most photographers in the pre-digital era.
You seem to be thinking a lot before taking the picture. Every photograph has certain thought behind. What kind of preparation you do before taking picture? What are your thoughts before deciding the subjects?
Actually I try not to think too much before taking photos. I agree that a certain amount of 'mental preparation' is important before a photo shoot, whether it be a portrait session or a theme-based project shoot (eg. decay). Based on sales of my prints, I have come to know what kinds of images sell well, and therefore know to keep an eye out for these types of shots. At the same time, however, it is important not to limit yourself to only these shots. If you place limits on your creativity, you will miss subjects and perspectives which may later prove even more interesting and fruitful.
What is your philosophy about Photography? Has that affected your life in any which ways?
Photography is different things to different people. For many casual shooters, it is a way of documenting life: photos of your kids growing up, photos from family vacations abroad, and so on. For me, photography is an art form. As a photographer, I do try to capture reality, but in a way different from others. I try to shoot a scene in a way i consider artistic and creative. Sometimes this means shooting from an unusual angle or with a non-conventional f-stop, other times this may require me to use my infrared-converted camera to capture light from the invisible end of the spectrum.
Through photography, I have discovered a wonderful creative outlet previously absent in my life. In recent years, I have successfully turned this 'hobby' into a business venture, with most of my income derived from print sales and portrait sessions. I hope in the near future to be able to retire fully from medical practice to work full-time as a photographer.
I personally would love to know how did you decided "Abandoned" to select as your subject of Photography?
I believe that the art of photography allows the viewer to see and appreciate the beauty of things where it is not immediately apparent. Beauty is a subjective quality: what one considers attractive may not appear as such to others. One of the things I have always been drawn to (though others may not, at first) is the eerie yet calm beauty of abandoned spaces, places where few venture. Many such places are off-limits and illegal, from abandoned transit tunnels to residential and commercial structures. I try to convey through my images the haunting and disquieting sadness of these long-forsaken places.
What attracted you in "Decay" to click the pictures?
Similar reasons as with my 'Abandoned' images. For me, it is all about finding and showing to others the beauty of things normally considered unattractive. I love the sadness of rusting objects, the loneliness of peeling paint, and the emptiness of things no longer useful.
What would be your tips for the beginners who wish to master Photography?
Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Go to your local library or bookstore and read everything you can get your hands on. Books, magazines, whatever is available. Surf the web and see what images others are taking. Then go out there and shoot some more. Experiment with different techniques and approaches. And familiarize yourself with the workings of your gear: know what it is and is not capable of doing.