My 5 Goals for 2019 and why I will SMASH them!

When I create a list of goals for myself or my business, I treat them as challenges that I MUST overcome to progress ahead. It drives me to focus on living purposefully and keeps things exciting and fresh for me. I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as “the right time will come” or that artists in general need to “wait for the correct signs”. The only right time for me is NOW and the only right signs I need are the ones that keep me alive enough to work another day. So, here are my 5 goals for 2019, and, as bonus content, I will be sharing more on why I will definitely SMASH all of them!

1) Meaningful Collaborations

Much like many other portrait photographers, I have a portfolio filled with beauty and aesthetic portraits. A lot of these projects were collaborations and, without the intention of sounding offensive towards all the women I have worked with, they mostly lack depth. I, also, observed that besides more likes and followers, such work was not doing much for me in terms of progressing on.

I spent the second-half of 2018 disciplining myself in the area of collaborations; - if the potential work did not project a meaningful outcome, I would not take it on. This is something I am applying to 2019 as well. I will be concentrating on paid work and collaborations that either has a cause or the power to create social impact.

I am already starting the year with a project called, Shadows and Mirrors, which is based on sexual assault and features, Devika Panicker, spokesperson for AWARE SINGAPORE. I believe that in starting the new year with a project that is in-line with my goals, I will be setting the tone right for the rest of the year as well. Shadows and Mirrors will be screened privately on the 18th of January 2019 and will most likely be out for public viewing several days after that.

IMG_4835.jpg

2) Meaningful Projects

It goes without saying that meaningful collaborations will lead to meaningful projects. It could be simple portraiture work or a project with a high-concept, whatever it may be, the project needs to be aligned with my identity as a fine art photographer. The responsibility is on me to either produce or take on projects that will further endorse my brand of photography art.

In the middle of December 2018, Serene Martin, owner of Serenity Secrets, and myself came to consensus that we have a lot to gain from each other through a business partnership. What got to me was the opportunity to turn her words in to pieces of photographic art. Together we are planning out a year’s worth of content that is conceived by Serene and created by me.

serene1.jpg

Therefore, for 2019, I am on the hunt for opportunities that will allow me to show to a wider audience the power of what my brand of photography can do rather than churn out usual work that any other artist or photographer can create as well.

3) Long-term Business Relationships versus Short-term Monetary Gains

Establishing long-term business relationships is a tricky one. It comes down to the negotiating prowess of the offering party. If there is one thing I have learnt from the failure of HyperFrontal Productions, it is to never let go of a client so easily especially when there are “a hundred-and-one” photography and video service providers out there.

What I bring to the table for businesses like Dragnet Smartech Security and The Fesique Lab is my unique focus on content over cost. I rather charge a monthly fee than a giant sum at one go. This keeps the business I am contracted with away from being financially strained just because they had acquired my services and keeps communication going between me and them. I do not invoice according to volume because then I am restricting myself from providing any value-added services but rather determine a pricing based on the longevity and complexity of the assignment. The determined sum is then divided into an affordable monthly fee. It may seem easier to many people to collect a one or two-time payment but what happens after that cannot be projected. This uncertainty is something I would like to stay away from for this brand new year of 2019.

4) Acquiring Funding

Jasbir front.jpg

In my time of running a business and being involved in several other businesses, I have learnt that the one thing that keeps potential investors away from funding a business is the uncertainty of the future of the business. You may make one million dollars over the next 6 months but if you have no idea what you are going to do with all that profit and, worst still, if you have no idea what happens after that 6 months, your business starts losing credibility despite the high returns you made in that 6 months.

Art has its prominent position in my life but cultivating purposeful projections of the future and strategic partnerships in the present is my goal where the more business side of Bedtime Tales Inc. is concerned. For the year of 2019, progression should come with growth and for that to happen seeking funding is quintessential.

5) Awards and Portfolio reviews

Thus far, we have pretty much concentrated on Art (meaningful collaborations and projects) and Business (meaningful partnerships and funding). However, I am an artist at the end of the day and to fuel my determination, I will need loads of motivation.

_a body of work that has distinct political and social relevance in this day and age_.png

I have always found sending my work to award festivals to greatly motivate me and this is without the expectation of winning or receiving 5-star reviews. My career as a fine art photographer has seen many highs and lows but one of the most encouraging events is when I receive positive reviews from major photography art festivals and organisations from all over the world.

I, therefore, will be dedicating more time to sending my work out for the world to see and, hopefully, appreciate them. In return, I know that it is going to charge me up to smash all the goals I set for myself for 2019.

Conclusion

It can be observed that my goals are interdependent where one cannot be achieved without first achieving the other. I am of the opinion that goals should be set in a progressive manner to help climb the overall ladder of success. Of course, what I have listed here are unique to me and my business and I am not asking fellow artists and photographers to take anything I write as principles written into stone; nothing that I write in my other articles should be taken in such light as well. I project my excitement and eagerness to work in hopes that it may resonate with other artists and photographers out there and if it inspires them to work a little harder (or smarter) then I would feel that I have done my part to contribute to an industry that I love.

The Art of Mobile Photography and Real World Review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Over the past two decades, one of the most interesting developments in the world of photography lies in the evolution of mobile phones. Let us take a moment to think this through. Firstly, mirrorless cameras have lost its innovative intrigue. Secondly, very rarely do we find new technology that is truly ground-breaking built into DSLR cameras. The air around the conventional tools of photography has gone stale as we seem to be stuck in an era of improvements and upgrades rather than ground-breaking ingenuity.

And then, almost out of nowhere, came the worldwide phenomenon of camera mobile phones.


A Brief History of Camera Mobile Phones

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

According to Digital Trends, the first camera mobile phone was, arguably, the J-SH04 created by Sharp in late of year 2000. Priced at 400 USD, the phone boasted a 0.11-megapixels camera. ASTONISHING.

The market of camera mobile phones would soon be taken by storm by the Nokia N-series. Among the more memorable models was the N93 which was the incredible successor of the already wildly successful N90 and N92. One of its appeals, apart from the technology it was packed to the brim with for its time, was how much it resembled a typical digital camcorder.

We all know what happens next; brand after brand, camera mobile phones took enormous technological strides, and almost 20 years later, taking the manta of Smart Phones, there is still no stopping the evolution.


The Present

The image capturing and video capabilities of smart phones today rivals some of the more advanced consumer-grade DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. This has led to the rise of mobile phone photography. What had started out as a tool to easily take lifestyle pictures has now become an art form and, to some extent, a cost-effective business essential. We even have several prestigious international mobile photography competitions and organisations!

In an interview with the FSTOPPERS, Lara Aucamp, an Instagram Photographer, aptly captures the core of what mobile photography is about:

Photography is a form of self-expression. I'm not a professional, and I don't even own a real camera. I really only got into photography after I got my iPhone. I find the format of mobile photography liberating and empowering - I have my iPhone with me wherever I go, and can easily edit and share photos on the go. The convenience of it is perfect for my busy lifestyle.


The Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Photo Credit: Huawei Website

Photo Credit: Huawei Website

Photo Credit: Huawei Website

Photo Credit: Huawei Website

In October 2018, Huawei broke the Internet announcing its latest (and greatest) creation, the Mate 20 Pro. Partnering with Leica once again, the phone has a triple-lens system: a 40-MP main (f/1.8), an 8-MP telephoto (f/2.4) and, a 20-MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) lens. It is powered by Huawei’s Kirin 980 which, according to the Huawei website, is the “ultimate engine to power next-generation productivity and entertainment applications” delivering “75% more powerful” CPU and “46% greater graphics processing.”

Despite popular believe that Huawei Technologies only makes “cheap phones”, it comes with no surprises that the Chinese company has created what seems to be the best smart phone in the current market given that they are, as of the second-quarter of 2018, the second-largest smart phone developers in the world by overtaking Apple. According to The Guardian, this is the first time in seven years that any company has managed to split the top two developers, Samsung and Apple. Business and tech watchdogs are going so far as to say that 2018 is the year of Huawei Technologies.

A one-line description by Digital Trends says it all:

We’d say it’s 2019 and beyond. Such is the technical prowess of this astonishing phone.


Camera Performance

I had initially suggested that I try filming with the phone to test its inbuilt cinema-style filters but because my time with the phone was limited, I, regretfully, was unable to push its core systems to the very end of its limits. However, I did take the phone out for a spin and had tested its camera’s capabilities under some very challenging conditions with whatever I found interesting in my house.

40-MP Main (Edited)

40-MP Main (Edited)

The 40-MP main lens is a details monster. Given that we are talking about a phone sensor, it was expected that there would be some grain showing up in any image shot under low-light conditions. The grains did not distract me away from the crisp sharpness of the silhouette of the dark buildings I was trying to put into contrast with the backdrop of the evening skies. This gave me an overall sharp subject and just the right amount of silky-blur to the rest of elements in the frame.

While taking this shot, the phone’s AI had been activated and guided me on which was the best lens to use and what were the best settings I needed to make the best of my shot. It blew me away that the AI was working nearly independently, almost like as though it had a brain of its own. Neither did it require voice commands nor did I need to tap on anything else for the AI to be activated, this was something right off the movies.

Purists may call blasphemy on this because part of the enjoyable experience of taking pictures is the photographer figuring out what settings would suit his or her scene best. However, I am keeping mainly enthusiasts in mind because they make up the largest contributors of mobile photography in general. If I were taking pictures on the go just for Instagram, I would want a device that is exactly or closely similar in capabilities as the Mate 20 Pro.


8-MP Telephoto (Edited)

8-MP Telephoto (Edited)

For the next image, the idea was to get as much bokeh (or background blur) to surround my subject as possible. Of course, it would have been ideal to have shot this with the 40-MP f/1.8 lens again because of the wide aperture but, since the objective here was to test each lens in different conditions or with different subjects, I decided to give the 8-MP telephoto f/2.4 lens a try.

8-MP may not sound appetizing to many amateurs and enthusiasts out there, however, it is important to note that it is the processor of the phone and quality of the lens that would ultimately maximize on the quality of the picture. This is also why we do not see Canon or Nikon updating their professional-level flagship cameras with high pixel counts.

The Mate 20 Pro is powered by octa-core (2x2.6GHz + 2x1.92GHz + 4x1.8GHz) processor and it comes with 6GB of RAM. In layman’s terms, it is powerful enough to compensate a low pixel count camera inbuilt in to the phone. Also, the signature balance between the dreamy-luxury-feel and overall clarity of a Leica system was evident in the pictures I took with the phone.


20-MP Ultra-wide (Edited)

20-MP Ultra-wide (Edited)

I saved the third lens of the Mate 20 Pro for a shot that would be challenging for any phone’s camera no matter what their processor or lens: Wide-Angle Macro. Wide-angle macro photography seeks to add close-up impact by telling an overall story of not just the subject alone but by also featuring the surrounding of the subject. It is most popular among wildlife photography but from time-to-time we see the technique appearing in fine art portraiture work as well.

Do keep in mind that in testing the Mate 20 Pro camera’s capabilities I am not trying to create aesthetically pleasing works of art. My main focus is to have the camera fail on me. In this case, as seen in the picture, the lens held its ground. The picture turned out beautifully with just the right balance of background blur to keep my subject as the main focus without compromising on the story-telling as a whole.


Verdict

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro is a mobile photographer’s dream come through. Everything from Leica’s beautiful lenses, the AI, down to the OLED screen makes the phone a perfect device for mobile photographers who are stepping up their game. I did find the pictures to be naturally on the warmer side but this was easily worked around in Photoshop Mobile where I could color-correct my pictures to exactly how I wanted them to be colored. My time with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro also made me realize the impact mobile photography has made over the years and why this would compel Huawei to create what I believe is the greatest smart phone yet. I find myself being attracted to mobile photography more because, while as great as the Mate 20 Pro may be, it just seems that we have only touched the surface of an ocean of possibilities with mobile photography and, as an artist, that intrigues me a lot.