Yafiq's style of photography brings out the best in concepts like symmetry and perspective. His passion and love for the art shows no bounds, of which translates beautifully into his work
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Y: "I enjoy taking photos, but I prefer using my phone. I’ve always liked it as a hobby since I was young. I only picked up photography when I was in school of architecture. Initially, I used my iPhone 4 to start taking photos, and posted them to Instagram. After 3-4 years, I was featured on Instagram’s page, and since then, my interest continued to build. My initial interest in photography was already sparked when I was younger, but due to architecture school, I started actualizing it."
Yafiq touches on his inspirations, and creative process.
Y: "I get inspiration from the people around me, from both my physical and social media relations. Sometimes I will meet up with mutual Instagram photographers, and from their work, I gain a lot of inspiration. There is this one photographer I met with who is really talented, but wanted to give up on his work, so I tried to encourage and support him by having my followers check him out as well. Due to that, it helped him decide to continue with his work, and at the same time, I am inspired by the creativity of his work.
It is not often that I feel unmotivated. However, I felt especially so when I was serving my NS (National Service) as I didn’t have the time to shoot. When I feel uninspired, I usually take a break and look back at my previous inspirations. I will look at other photographers’ feeds, then create photos inspired by them where I do credit them as well. This usually helps me get back on track with my own shoots. I know that there are Instagram trends, but I think it has become oversaturated. I don’t normally follow these trends, as I enjoy taking the type of photos I usually do."
"A good photograph is when you feel right about it"
He also shares more about the type of photos he takes, and what he considers as a good photograph.
Y: "A good photograph is when you feel right about it. It doesn’t matter what others think of your photos, as they may not always get what it means to you. I still post some photos which I think are not that ‘Instagram worthy’, but I think it means something to me, so I post it anyway. For example, this one photo of Jakarta that I took was not that great, but to me, it showed my appreciation towards the people I have met there."
That seems quite ironic, in comparison with Instagram culture.
Y: "I have mentioned before that we shouldn’t do things to make people love you, but rather do things that make you love yourself. If you’re doing it for the attention and likes, it wouldn’t feel right, as if you are cheating yourself. For example, posting my parents’ old wedding photo didn’t seem to fit in with my architecture feed, but I did it anyway because it felt right. Sometimes I get questions like ‘how do you gain followers/likes?’ etc. but I think that you should not even think about that, you should just focus on yourself. If you want to move further, you should find something unique within yourself, and embrace it. Mine used to be my ‘puddle shots’, and now everyone is doing it as well. These small things are what makes you different, because people don’t want to see the same things, and they tend to give more attention to things that are out of the norm or special."
What are your thoughts on the Instagram community in Singapore?
Y: "I think we should try to help each other more in Singapore. I know of certain people and communities like those in Jakarta, where over 1000 people will show up to insta-meets, unlike in Singapore. The photographers there are highly disciplined, and they organize themselves into different chat groups to stay in touch and let each other know about events. People in Jakarta have been asking me about my wide angle lens, and I tell them that OOWA is better as it’s a 15mm lens with a much lower distortion than other brands. I honestly love using OOWA lenses, I was just about to ask when I could get my hands on the new cases actually.
What is your favourite part of your whole Instagram journey?
Y: "My first overseas trip, meeting with a handful of photographers worldwide, to Doha as part of Qatar Airways A350 opening. I got to meet many other instagrammers, and that was the first time we were listed as instagrammers, instead of bloggers or journalists. There was also a bit of spare time on the trip, so I got the chance to shoot with these international instagrammers as well. That became a stepping stone for me to meet even more instagrammers, and travel to many more countries to shoot. I think that I am very lucky, in that if I had started now with my current work, I don’t think I would make it to where I am today. So I guess the best part of this journey, is the opportunity to meet with new people when I travel. Since they are instagrammers too, it felt as if I was meeting up with old friends instead as we already had similar interests. It’s just like having pen-pals. When they come over to Singapore, I get a chance to share my favourite shooting spots and my culture to them as well. Getting inspired by them, especially when I’m overseas is one of the best parts of my journey."
Do you need to be very invested in Instagram to achieve these connections?
Y: "I don’t think so, I meet up with people who have less than 1000 followers as well. I believe that everyone deserves to be acknowledged. If you don’t try, you will never know where you will get to. If they are willing to try, I don’t see why I shouldn’t meet them if I’m free. This is unique of Instagram, as there isn’t much opportunity to meet your followers or friends on other social media platforms. So I think it’s perfectly great to have these Instagram friends."
Is it more about planning your shots or capturing a certain moment for you?
Y: "I think it is very difficult to capture moments as it isn’t my forte, but it always is great to do so, especially when I try to wait for people to walk by, etc. in my puddle shots. For example, street photography is very hard as it requires a lot of patience to get the perfect shot. I have tried it before though, but I am not very good at it, so I usually stick to simpler shots like people walking by at the right time, or birds flying off."
Yafiq shares with us some of his memorable experiences he gained while shooting.
Y: "In Hong Kong, I went up to this rooftop even though I am afraid of heights, and I was so afraid I barely took any shots, I just wanted to get down. However, I usually don’t go great lengths to take photos. Unless, you count waking up at 4-5am to take sunrise shots, which I have done a few times with friends. I don’t care if people stare at me when I take my ‘puddle shots’ either, cause I’m in an awkward position which may incite people to think I’m taking up-skirt shots, but I don’t bother with them as long as I get the shot I want. Other than that, to risk my life, I won’t do so. I think everything is fine if you are okay with it. Sometimes I get swayed by friends, but usually, it’s nothing too risky. Also, I always use my iPhone to take photos, especially with OOWA lenses. OOWA is the only lens I use. The first time I used OOWA, I got a bit of a headache as everything viewed from my phone suddenly became different. The perspective was so different, but after a day, I got used to it. The first time I tried it, it was at the Esplanade, and everything turned out great. Furthermore, we compared the shots from OOWA and another brand of lens side-by-side and both of us agreed that OOWA was much better. Some people have asked me how I achieved my shots through editing, but I tell them that you have to shoot the right photo first, and edits can only go so far."
Other than photography, Yafiq chooses to spend time with his family.
Y: "If I'm not out taking photos, I’ll probably be singing, but not a lot of people know that. Quite a few people have asked me to set up a YouTube channel, which I might do soon if I have free time. I love spending time with my family as well, staying home or going out, it’s great to be with them as I have 6 siblings so it is never a bore. It seems almost therapeutic talking to them, as when you’re stressed out from work, talking to your siblings can always help you remember where you were from."
Are your parents supportive of this?
Y: "Now they are, but earlier, not so much. When I just got featured, I had a lot of work following it and I got really busy so I couldn’t afford to spend much time with my mum especially as I am very close to her. It got quite bad, to the point that she didn’t want to even talk to me. Furthermore, I had an upcoming 24-day military service trip in the next 3 days, and I had to resolve the issue with her before I left, within that time. So I sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with her and we eventually came to understand each other better. She was also really proud of me for all the accolades I achieved and exhibitions I was in. They are also very supportive of me now, especially when I tell them how this job isn’t very stable in that sometimes I would have a lot of work coming in, and other times, not so much. They told me that I should just pursue what I want, especially now that I am still young. It touched me greatly when they assured me that they were already proud of whatever I had accomplished, as I felt like I haven’t been able to truly provide them with everything they would want. They even print out my photos to commemorate my accomplishments. I truly believe that support from your family is the most important aspect, as your family will always be there for you, even when you’re in a downward spiral. Now everyone including my extended family will ask me to take photos for them, but it’s great because I have OOWA, which actually saved me when taking really large group shots which requires wide angle lenses to capture everyone."
He also shared more on his family and personal aspirations.
Y: "My family always inspires me, and supports me to push myself further in this field. I have another dream I wish to chase, but I’ve put that aside so that I can further my expertise in photography first."
What is that other dream?
Y: "It’s a secret between me and my twin brother. It’s something we wanted to try since we were very young. However, know we must first support the family, and when we are stable enough, perhaps we will go ahead with our plans. Maybe when it does happen, I will post about it. Many people have also asked us to start vlogging as well, but I don’t think that’s my forte as I am very shy, and my twin is usually out of town as well. Sometimes I will post a few irrelevant things, like family videos and photos, but very rarely as I prefer to have the privacy."
Any parting words?
I always believe in sticking to what you like to do, don’t follow others for the sake of wanting to be like them. Always find your own identity, as I have said previously, you should do things not for others to love you, but do things that make you love yourself.
Yafiq shot all the images above with the OOWA 15 mm and 75 mm lenses.