I wasn’t interested in photography until three years ago. Before that, stunning pictures did not make a blog post, and digital cameras were really expensive. A pro-consumer camera cost about RM2,500 and that is a lot of money for a student.

I only jumped on the digital single lens reflect camera (dslr) bandwagon when I decided that drool-worthy food pictures were no longer optional choices for my blog.

It has been three years since I bought my Canon EOS 40D, which is still serving me very well even until today, and photography has taught me quite a few things apart from just creating beautiful pictures.

A picture of a Christmas-themed and brightly-lit Orchard Road, Singapore, by the writer.

If you’re into photography, you might have heard other enthusiasts complaining about how bad their pictures are because they did not have a particular lens. More often than not, people tend to forget what they have and choose to complain about what they do not have.Along the way, I have also learnt to make do with what I have. There will always be photographers who are better equipped than I am and as such I have to make use of what I have to deliver the results I want.

For me, it is never about the brands, bodies or lenses a photographer uses; it is the photographer himself that makes the difference.

This is something many new photographers do not realise. Many of them only care about when they were going to ditch that el cheapo and lousy kit lens for those F2.8 lens that comes with VR, USM, ULD, ASP, APO and HSM (don’t worry too much about these terms, really).

I have met and befriended many interesting photographers in the past few years because we share the same objective – to create pictures that speak for themselves.

When we sit down and have our weekly teh tarik session, we talk about the pictures we took and what emotions the shots evoke. We discuss facial expressions of a bride, for example, or how simple yet breathtaking the image of an illuminated egg can be.

Seldom do we discuss about what body, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance or lenses we use to take these shots.

One has to see beyond the technical aspects of photography to appreciate the beauty and true meaning behind photography but it is easier said than done.

The writer's first love is food photography.

That, for me, says a lot.Recently, I was awestruck by the photos exhibited at the World Press Photo Exhibition. I noticed that there was no information on the cameras and settings the photo journalists used in capturing their award-winning shots. The only captions were the stories behind the pictures.

I have also learned that there is no right or wrong to a picture. When a photographer presses the shutter button, he does it with his best judgment and decision at that precise moment.

Beautiful pictures do not come by firing your shutter button like a machine gun and hoping that one out of the 50 burst shots you took will give you an award-winning photo.

It is all a combination of capturing what you have visualised in your mind, finding the best angle, composing/framing the picture, setting the right white balance, shutter speed and aperture.

The decisions you make at that point will determine the outcome of your picture; just like the consequences you have to bear when you make any choices in life.

Every photographer is unique in his own way and beauty lies only in the eyes of the beholder. You may not like that photographer’s photos or style but that does not mean he or she has failed.

Having said that, I will also admit that there are ugly photographs lying around.

Jason takes action shots as a way to explore his photography skills.

Only when your foundations are strong and solid, coupled with the understanding of your camera’s capability and limitation, will you be able to progress further and be a better photographer. It is also what makes you an actual photographer, and not just a person with a fancy dslr.If you are interested in taking up photography, the most important and foremost “rule” is to get your understanding and basics right.

This means that it’s all about practice, practice and practice more.

I have made a resolution this year that I will start shooting more consistently to improve myself as a photographer and I am going to start by doing what I do best in – food photography – but that will be for another article for another day.

* Jason Lioh is more popularly known as Jason Mumbles on the local blogosphere. Visit his blog at

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