IPA Interviews with Winning Photographers

Interview with

Suhaimi Abdullah

3rd Place in Competitive Events Category 2015

What is your background?

A former engineer cum project manager turned professional photographer, I was born in Singapore and discovered my photography talent later in life. I am also a stringer with Getty Images.

What kind of photography do you most identify with?

My first love has always been sports and travel, but I do quite a number of editorial news and entertainment as well.

Explain your style in 100 words

My style and approach are simple: quiet and nonobstructive. I always try to create the best and stand out from the rest. It is a tall order for me, but the drive to deliver my best will keep me on my toes to create that one moment of ‘magic’.

How did your style change over time?

I believe that what we created yesterday could be done better tomorrow. What exists today always has room for improvement tomorrow.

What photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?

The photograph shot by the late Kevin Carter of a hooded vulture and a starving toddler in Sudan. The photo is still imprinted in my mind. This photo raised so many questions, from ethics (to shoot or to help) to the fate of the toddler and the presence of the vulture. It is heartbreaking to see a toddler in that state, nobody deserves such a life.

When did you discover your passion for photography?

Photography used to be an expensive hobby. It is not until DSLR became affordable that I begin to dabble and experiment with photography

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

A situation that inspires me to be a better photographer or inspires me to be better prepared for life situations?  I have been caught in the middle of an earth quake and have been gassed by a tear gas, these life experiences will make me better prepared in the future.

What is your dream project?

I would like to be attached to an NGO to cover social issues in the hope to bring awareness of the plight of the unfortunate and raise awareness so that eventually people come forth to help with their money or an effort to build a better future for all, putting political agenda aside.

Name 5 photographers who have inspired you

From Henri Cartier-Bresson to Steve McCurry, Kevin Carter to Salgado and Adam Pretty, I looked at a broad spectrum of different photography genres to understand the thinking behind the photographer thoughts and image creation. There are many others too, not specifically those that I have mentioned.

What would you do without photography?

I really don’t know, I love photography so much that I wouldn’t want to go back to doing routine desk-bound jobs. I sincerely hope, God willing, I could continue what I love to do now.

How do you know when a body of work is finished?

Translate the idea, make sure the scope of work is done and when you feel the message you are putting across can be understood.

Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?

Each photograph that is created has its own merits. So I treat each one of them differently, it would be unfair if I’d say now that this is the ONE. To me, the ONE photograph that I will be very proud of is the one which I will create in the future which will leave an impact on everyone’s lives, it remains to be seen what it is.

What is your most important gadget? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My life insurance would be my camera for now since I am doing this for a living. The Canon 1DX is a dream beast.

How did you start taking pictures? Why do you take pictures?

In the beginning, it was just for fun, we all start somewhere don’t we? The intention was just to immortalize the scene around me and relive the moments after. As I watch the beauty unfolded through my self-discovery in photography, I got hooked and never looked back since. We are blessed with eyesight, but what makes photography unique is that we all see things differently.

What was your first camera?

It was a Nikon D70

What camera do you use now and why?

I have progressed to using the Canon 1Dx as my primary body. For a sports shooter like me, it serves my purpose well.

What role does the photographer have in society?

Respect and honesty are the two most important traits I believe which we should inculcate in a society. In the hope of making better images, we have to respect the nature we are in, the human subjects we photographed every day. Be honest with what you are trying to portray and be truthful about the situation you are in.

You can contact Suhaimi here

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