Welcome to Unique Passions! A new segment where we interview various individuals who choose to pursue their niche interests, even if it means taking on the path less-traveled. Take a deeper look into their personal thoughts, opinions, and feelings towards life…
Is it possible to make a career out of photography in this little red dot? Or should it remain a short-term passion? Let’s hear from Paris, a budding photographer who like many, come from a humble background with entrenched aspirations of his own which may not bode well to society’s atypical definition of a successful route. Read on this post for his story and perspectives towards life, relationships and social issues.
Name: Paris Chia
Occupation: Third-year student @ Nanyang Technological University, studying Sociology
The Stepping Stones
How did you discover your passion for photography?
When I was 13 (10 years back), I was the only one that enjoyed taking photos in the circle of my friends.
Why did it take you so long to pursue photography?
Because of my family background and financial status, I didn’t think it was a practical or viable option to pursue a passion in photography. Not rich, I didn’t have the financial capacity to buy a camera and I figured my parents wouldn’t be supportive of such a move to passion in photography. I’m still studying now, so it’s no harm for me to try and make something out of this.
Many people choose to take the straight route in life, why do you want this path?
This is something I enjoy doing.
Photography Style and Interest
You’re only 23 but I’m sure you’ve been through a lot of life experiences and have evolved in your worldview like any other young adults. Do all these influence or shape your photography style?
Yes it has. From the environment you live in, and from how you were brought up, you naturally see things from a certain point of view, and your perspective of things will be affected from your environment. So naturally the photos you’ll take, will be affected by that. E.g. I like street photography because I spent most of my time as a kid, teenager, and adult, on the streets. If you’re a well-to-do person, you’ll be probably taking pictures of I don’t know? Travelling, and expensive food, or something?
I hate plants. They can’t really tell a story. [Fashion?] Maybe next time? But not really into fashion. [Weddings?]. Yeah, I like to capture special moments from people. [What about giving birth or death? Aren’t they like special moments?] You want to photograph people dying? Unless you’re saying like it’s war journalism or something. Yeah, I would love to do that if given a chance.
What would you like to pursue in the future?
I would love to go into Journalism, like travel. Write and take pictures at the same time. Politics. War Journalism, that’s a dream.That’s the most intense, emotionally charged. [But Singapore has never been through war before.] That’s why I’ll go overseas and experience it for myself.
Is Photography a “Safe” Choice?
Do you intend to work for yourself or under a company?
Myself. I’ll most probably work under a company for a while to beef up my portfolio, but at the end of the day, it has to be something of my own.
What is your ultimate goal?
To just take pictures I want to take. Probably just weddings. Be a famous street photographer. My end goal is not to become a journalist. [But you mention about war photography]. I don’t know leh. OK maybe, I’m still unsure at this point of time, I’m still pretty new but I do want to make this a profession. I look for more photo gigs. Get myself out there. Reach out to more people. Done more pageants shoots for NTU, graduation shoots, birthdays, basically, I use NTU as a platform to build up my portfolio.
Any challenges you have faced as of now?
Lack of equipment and getting more gigs. That is not easy. Time is an issue, but I do still have time for more photo gigs because I would prioritize photography over my studies.
Is this a safe choice in Singapore?
Is not. [So why do you still?] Because the unsafe choice has always brought me to where I want to be, cause it makes me happier. Life is not about staying on track, it’s about staying happy.
If you have to choose between getting your university certificate and this awesome photography gig?
I would have both, just that my degree is not a good one.
How do you define success?
For photography at the end of the day, I would be able to choose – who I want to shoot for, and what I want to shoot for. Means there will be demand for my services to the extent where I can say no and yes to certain people. I can take the pictures I want to take, do the photo gigs I want to do. I have choices. I don’t have to say yes to everybody.
Social Media, Work-Life Balance, and Misconceptions
Do you feel social media or online platforms has made it easier for you to publicize your photography?
Yes, but nevertheless, everyone is using social media platforms to increase social awareness. It’s very messy, and even my site may just drown in the massive array of all the other blogs and photography sites. There is too many. Mine is just one of the million websites?
As a photographer, can you earn a stable income or have a work-life balance since you have to work during the weekends?
Oh ya, that’s fine to sacrifice that. [Your family over?] No lah, as in I can be home for dinner on week days.
What is a common misconception towards photography?
That anyone can be a photographer but it’s not true. Someone with patience, good social skills, who has an eye for photography to begin with. Must be able to make your models or subjects comfortable, to make them post, not something anyone can do. You have to have a lot of connections. Or not how are you going to receive your photo gigs or recommendations from people? [financial wise?] It is better if you’re rich or from higher incomes?
There are so many budding photographers. What makes you stand out from the rest?
Hmm. Cause I see things differently and I’m more sincere. I have a better eye than them.
So you feel in Singapore, there are young people who take photographs but their standard is not really there?
Some are doing for the wrong reasons e.g. facebook likes, looking like a hipster, or trying to look indie.
Looking Deeper Beyond The Lens
I took a look at the photos on your Instagram page @parischiaphotography;
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
It sounds very deep and heartfelt. Is this phrase something that holds great significance in terms of your past or present relationships?
Ya. That’s so personal. [That’s why it’s called looking deeper beyond the lens.] Err.. I don’t know. After experiencing so much relationships and going through so much of them, I just learnt every relationship teaches you something, and even if you feel pain at that point of time, but at the end of the day, it makes you stronger and you learn more about yourself, and what you want in a relationship in the future. After many relationships, you know what your ideal spouse is, you know more, you have a better idea of what you want in your relationship.
So you feel relationships are the most painful things in life?
Ya I guess, it makes you feel the most. You feel a variety of emotions. It makes you a better person. It teaches you about yourself. You learn more about yourself, you may be a better person or spouse, or you can learn new things about life.
What is one important thing you learnt from your past relationships?
To protect myself emotionally.
“We had so many dreams as children. Where do they go when we grow? Are they swallowed up by the mundane things of everyday life? Or do we lose them, leave them behind us in the dust, for new children to find and take up?”
To find out what this phrase means to Paris, his views towards mainstream ideals, politics, social inequality, aspirations for the future, more pictures to appreciate; as well as what his family and relationships means to him, read on to Part II!
You can follow Paris Chia, the handsome budding photographer Instagram’s page @parischiaphotography if you want to get his number oops I mean, explore photos from the heart with a human touch 🙂
[Offbeat Perspective’s Interviews]
Category: “Unique Passions”
Category: “Unheard Voices”
Category: “Public Interviews”
Category: “Amos Yee Saga – Citizen Journalism”
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