Derived from the Greek words photos (light) and graphein (to draw), photography has come a long way since 1829 when its first modern process was invented.
Today, photography has become a very popular hobby thanks to the invention of digital cameras that makes it easy for anyone to point and snap.
Camera phones also introduced photography to many youngsters and those who enjoy it, slowly upgrade to compact cameras and eventually digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs).
A portable medium that allows anyone to express their creativity, photography has become a part of the human race and some have even turned it into a successful career.
MetroBiz talks to two successful photographers who gave up their high-paying jobs to pursue their love for the flash.
Sanjitpaal Singh and Abdul Shukor Md Janis were both thriving in their corporate roles before picking up a camera to make a living.
Sanjitpaal was in advertising for eight years before moving into photography full time. Prior to that, the journalism graduate worked in a post-production company.
“I got my first taste of photography after I graduated. I worked for a travel and entertainment magazine where I was a photojournalist for a couple of years,” said Sanjitpaal.
“When I was with the advertising firm, my ex-boss was kind enough to get me the equipment I needed to continue my passion for photography. The equipment was for the company but he allowed me to use it on the weekends to build my portfolio.”
Sanjitpaal’s passion and eye for a good picture landed him several awards and a sponsorship from Olympus.
“I was not happy being behind the desk. I always loved wildlife photography as I consider myself a nature lover. I enjoy the outdoors and that became my niche. That’s how I separate myself from the rest,” he said.
However, to pay the bills, Sanjitpaal does corporate events, branding photoshoots and profile photography.
He spent the last four years building his clientele and his work has been recognised by major organisations. That has also helped him draw in sponsors such as photography equipment companies like Gitzo and DataColor.
He is also frequently invited to judge local photography competitions and conduct workshops overseas.
Abdul Shukor, on the other hand, took up photography as a hobby, but that passion soon turned into something that he could make a living out of.
Similar to Sanjitpaal, Abdul Shukor was not happy being tied down to a desk job.
“I was making good money being a manager at a multinational oil and gas company, but I was not happy. My heart was crying out to be released,” quipped Abdul Shukor.
The diehard motorsports fan was spending his weekends at the former Batu Tiga race track to take pictures of cars and events. He was doing this on his own time without any monetary returns.
Soon after, drivers and race teams started engaging his services and he found that he enjoyed what he was doing.
At the age of 40, Abdul Shukor decided to venture out and start his own motorsport photography services.
“Everybody thought I was crazy to give up a steady job and pay cheque to start something new. I have four kids and, at the same time, my wife had also decided to quit her job to care for her mother.
“It came down to wants versus needs. I evaluated what I actually needed and how much that would cost against my wants. I did not need a maid and I could send my children to school every day. My wife and I managed it,” he added.
Today, Abdul Shukor is one of the most sought-after motoring photographers in the country. His work has been picked up by many news agencies across the globe and featured in many magazines.
Perfecting the shot
Both Abdul Shukor and Sanjitpaal agree that photography is a work in progress and both men took time to hone their skills.
When he is not at the track, Abdul Shukor is at home studying his pictures and always looking at improving.
“I like to fail. Because when you do something wrong, you remember. I am not afraid of making mistakes as I learn from them and I get better,” said Abdul Shukor.
Sanjitpaal explained that in order to be a good photographer one had to be humble, honest and sincere.
“Every client is different. We can’t tell the client that this is my style and this is what I will do.
“The client might have something else in mind. We give them what they want and give them what we think would look good. That’s how we maintain a good relationship,” he said.
Both Sanjitpaal and Abdul Shukor advise young photographers to keep polishing their skills and to never settle for mediocrity.
“Find your niche and work on it. Set yourself apart from the others and work towards becoming the best,” said Sanjitpaal.
“It is also important that we respect our fellow photographers.
“I charge RM1,200 for a four-hour event and commercial shoot starts from RM3,500. If we go any lower, we kill the market for our peers,” he added.