Instax. Just fun.

So I’ve been trying this Instax thing that’s been so popular with the younger, more haps crowd. As it turns out, it was more fun than I expected. Insanely so for a snapshot guy like me.

Most of the shots I got are of my son, who seems to have gotten a little camera-shy since he lost a tooth, but I’ve been able use them at a couple of nude shoots too. Here are some of Sara. (NSFW in case that wasn’t obvious enough.)

Sara Scarlet, Singapore, 2015. © 2015 Callan Tham. All rights reserved.

Sara Scarlet, Singapore, 2015. © 2015 Callan Tham. All rights reserved.

Sara Scarlet, Singapore, 2015. © 2015 Callan Tham. All rights reserved.

Sara Scarlet, Singapore, 2015. © 2015 Callan Tham. All rights reserved.

I guess part of the allure is the ephemeral bit: these probably won’t last as long as proper prints, but that’s the point. Whatever we have photographed is, in a sense, already gone; and what we have yet to photograph still lies ahead. Every one of these Instax photos are quite literally a snapshot that no longer exist.

There’s a certain appeal to that. Now if only the film was cheaper…

One year on

It’s been almost a year since I gave up professional photography, and the went back to the grind of a day job. To be fair, it isn’t a grind as I get to work with a bunch of fantastic people, and it isn’t often that I consider my co-workers “friends”, although this bunch definitely fits the bill. (I also knew two of them from before I landed this job, so acclimatising is much easier.)

A week ago I was having a conversation with a friend, a fellow photographer who has struggled with the ever-decreasing corporate budget for photography, when I had an epiphany or sorts: that I’m finally getting used to the fact that I’m just an “amateur photographer” now. I’m beginning to embrace that freedom that comes along with that. No more stressing over securing jobs from (potentially) unreasonable clients with budgets that resemble a secondary school student’s monthly allowance. The day job has given me a stability that I can now leverage into doing what I love.

(That said, I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients who are as close to perfect as one can hope for, as well as amazing models who have been nothing but inspiring muses. Long may that continue.)

With that though, came a catch: stable hours means I have to actively find time to photograph. The day may be beautiful, clear skies and sunlight that gives purpose to even the slowest emulsion, but it is useless when I’m stuck behind a desk that is the foundation of my financial stability. This isn’t a complaint, but rather an observation. And I’ll be completely honest in saying I have not done that. It was a fear that I only admitted to a couple of people, and I realised that it was entirely an error of my doing.

I failed to embrace my status as an amateur.

That needs to end. I need to rediscover what a friend of mine calls “the hustle”. That energy to do what I must do because that’s how I want to live my life. The relentless, insatiable need to photograph, to fill my lungs with fumes from the fixer, to keep exercising my shutter finger and my eyes, to maintain the discipline for a process that not only brings joy, but also purpose. 

It’s been far too long since I have done that, and by failing to keep up, I’ve done myself no favours and maybe even a fair bit of damage, psychologically.

Time to embrace the grind again.

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