Sunday, April 5, 2009

Interview | Vincent Foong

A Singaporean was recently named as one of the Amateur winners in the 2009 Sony World Photography Awards (previous post). We caught up with Vincent Foong over email and here's what he has to say:

Congratulations on your win! What motivated you to participate in this competition?

I entered this competition as it is a large scale competition, involving 139 countries in total and more than 60,000 entries. I know I am good but do not know how I would match up against the best photographers in the world all vying for the top honour of 'Photographer of the Year'. This is afterall my first participation in the Sony World Photography Awards competition.

How did your interest in photography started?
My interest in photography started when I was in my mid 30's covering landscapes, people and nature. I used to travel four months every year through UK , Europe and USA when I was doing my own business. Photography then was my means of recording the beautiful places and interesting things and people around the world.

I took up diving in the early 80's and underwater photography soon became my passion. For more than 13 years, my interest in underwater photography brought me to all the best diving spots in the world, like Maldives , the Great Barrier Reef, Mauritius , Seychelles and of course our neighbouring countries like Thailand , and Malaysia.

What was the inspiration behind your winning photo?
Digital photography allowed me to experiment with different types of subject matters from studio work, landscapes, flowers, street, portraiture, macro etc. With bird photography, I wanted to challenge myself further as I found that it is the hardest to perfect. Firstly, locating a bird is hard enough but trying to understand its habits and movements is even harder and requires a lot of patience.

My winning picture shows a Lesser Adjutant executing the final approach for a perfect landing on a wooden stump in the river. I have shot hundreds of picture of these birds doing landings but not all are perfect. Sometimes they land on one foot and sometimes they miss it all together and fall. With regard to my submitted entry, I especially liked the composition of the bird in relation to the wooden stump and its surrounding.

So why were you participating as an amateur photographer?
I work full-time as a manager in an Interior Designing firm that does interior renovation for homes, restaurants, offices and everything else in-between.

As for making time for photography, for the past four years, I have been taking pictures every morning between the hours of 7am and 9am. This is the free time period that I have after I drive my eldest daughter to school and before I start work at 9am, so I will go to parks and vacant land around Punggol each morning to explore subjects that I can take pictures of.

Now that my photography skills have improved, I do it every weekend in various parts of Singapore and once every fortnight, I will drive up to Malaysia to take pictures if weather permits.

Will you be exhibiting your works soon, now that you've won such a prestigious award?
My ambition is to have my own coffee table book. Where possible, I will be taking up the invitation to showcase my photos in Singapore as well as overseas. At this point in time, I will consider options to exhibit my artwork.

What is your fave subject to shoot as a photographer?
I have two favourite subjects: 1. Birds and 2. Portraiture. Both are beautiful subjects and both have a lot of emotions to portray. It takes the skills of a good photographer to bring this out to the viewers.

Any tips shooting an award-winning photo for fellow photographers?
My only tip to fellow photographers is ' follow your hunch'. Don't do what people have done and if you don't succeed this time round, try and try again. In photography, there's a lot of trial and error involved. To get a good picture, one will need to have a lot of patience.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Congratulations again!