Dear 2016,

You have come and gone and although there were 365 days just like any other year, it felt like it all went by in the blink of an eye.

I’m not sure where to start really. But maybe I’ll start with this: in April I attended a little workshop put together by the awesome Jenn & Dave Stark (no, not related to anyone from Game of Thrones, I checked), who are not only really talented photographers, but amazing people all-around. As an introvert, I generally don’t love big group interactions. I find them overwhelming. But I’m much better in more intimate settings or one-on-one interactions. Such was the case with the Stark’s workshop. Turns out, there were a few other familiar faces there too. Throughout the workshop, we talked, and I mean, really talked, about running a business and all the little bits and nuances that comes with the territory of being self-employed, being a photographer, being an artist. It was the kind of talk you would have with good friends until the wee hours of the morning. There was a lot of laughter, and also a lot of tears. It was something I sorely needed and I definitely look back to our time together with love and appreciation. I felt so grounded afterwards, in a really good way.

The previous year was a very interesting year. I shot quite a few destination assignments and it was something that I really wanted to do. The year was going well in all sense of the word. Then the wedding season ended and bookings for the 2016 season were really lackluster. And I just couldn’t figure out why. It was beyond frustrating. Worst of all was the sense of “hey I’ve been doing this for a while now, shouldn’t this get easier?” Little by little, with a lot of help from Mike (my wonderful, wonderful other half), friends and some soul searching, I came to the realization that it doesn’t work this way. I had forgotten that your dreams don’t work unless you do. In the end, I picked myself back up and reminded myself to let go of the things that I can’t control, and focus my energy on the things that I can. Blogging my work, making sure my website functions well and is SEO’ed well, submitting work to be featured (link backs!), updating my site (which hadn’t been touched for 2 years) etc.

When I went to the Stark’s workshop I was once again reminded of why I loved photography in the first place: to capture all those fleeting moments of beauty and love that exist in this life of ours; the moments that, in the blink of an eye, disappear forever, with nothing to prove they ever existed. You know what I mean, those moments that are seared into your memory, though some fade a bit over time. In this way, photography is a way of witnessing life.

In life, we always seem to be chasing that next golden nugget. That sense of “if only I have this, then I will be truly happy”. For me, it was chasing after being a destination and international wedding photographer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But at some point I lost sight of why I loved photography in the first place. It became more about being able to say that I did this, and that. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t see this earlier. The things that I didn’t care about in my previous life as a 9-5 worker – climbing the corporate ladder, overworking myself, why did I fall into the same trap in this one?

I would still love to photograph couples, people and weddings all around the world. But I’m perfectly ok with photographing them right here at home too. Because the essential things in life don’t change very much no matter where you go. With this in mind, 2016 was a much happier year for me. I felt more content.

Mind you, I still love travelling. I don’t think that will ever change.

Whenever I meet new people and I tell them that I’m a photographer, I always get asked if I still like what I do after 5 years. I have to say, I still do. Even though it isn’t perfect, and nothing is perfect. Not just because I love taking photos, but also because doing what I do is always teaching me new things. I’m always learning new things, heck, I’m forced to learn new things even if I don’t want to. Haha.

2017, I’m ready for you. Bring it on.

Wishing all of you a wonderful year ahead filled with good health, love, laughter, all that you hold close to your heart, and most of all, moments that you want to preserve forever. xo

Ending this long post with a quote that I love, and is oddly appropriate at the start of a new year (then followed by photos):

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late, or in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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January 25, 2017
stunning work, that 5th shot.. wow :)
    Janice Yi
    February 2, 2017
    Thanks David! You guys do beautiful work too!

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