What’s the best part of having a hobby you’re so passionate about? To be able to turn it into a career. Some said it was a bad idea, but self-taught photographer, Amanda has proved many wrong with her choice of stepping into the industry. And it all started with her passion project, I’m More. With that said, we had the chance to get up close and personal with Amanda so without further ado, let’s get into it.
What inspired you to venture into the photography industry?
Since I was a young girl, I had an interest in creating art and I always loved the idea of the art of storytelling. With photography Iʼm given a canvas to tell my visual stories.
What are the most unforgettable memories you have in your career?
One of my most unforgettable memories would have to be when I had my very own solo exhibition in May 2019 for The Iʼm More Project. After that exhibition, I was given opportunities to work together with students from Sunway University and Raffles College to curate 2 more exhibitions. Another milestone is having the opportunity to work with big companies such as Sorella, to produce their Chinese New Year Campaign for 2020. It was a truly memorable experience.
What is your creative process like?
When it comes to my creative process, a lot of my conceptual work comes from my own emotions and experiences as well as from other people who have also shared their stories with me. I want my work to impact my audiences and emotion is a very strong tool to do so.
What are the career challenges faced when you were just starting out?
When I first started, I was told by my family that photography was an insecure and unstable job which raised concerns with my parents. As a female photographer, it was a challenge to build a name for myself. I have been looked down upon and treated unfairly by other photographers and my peers. I believe that women in any industry would understand and have had some experience where they are not being treated equally to their male colleagues. Another challenge is comparing myself with other creatives. I have always struggled with self-doubt and self-confidence when it comes to my work. I would find myself comparing my work with other creatives and that would tear me down and cause burnouts. I have come to realise that all of our work at our own pace and itʼs not fair to compare my journey to someone elseʼs.
How do you overcome your personal life challenges?
When I feel that Iʼm, not my best self, I try to take a break from work or have some “me” time. I remind myself of what is ahead of me and list down the things Iʼm grateful for. When it feels overwhelming and I need to cry it out, Iʼll cry it out. Thereʼs nothing wrong with expressing your feelings, it shouldnʼt be seen as a sign of weakness.
Being a photographer, is it difficult for you to face the public since some may be expecting you to be a jolly, positive person all the time?
Yes, it is quite difficult to always keep up a positive front. Recently I started becoming transparent about my mental health and revealed on social media that I have depression and anxiety. I want to use my experience to talk about mental health and raise awareness but there will always be people who take my transparency and read it as a form of self-pity or seeking attention.
Who is your photography idol and why?
I donʼt have that one specific person that I call my photography idol. I look up to many amazing photographers, for example, Daniel Adams (@danieladamsphotography) for his conceptual artwork, Catherea (@catherea) for creating projects to raise awareness on body positivity and so many other creatives, too many to list. All of them inspire me one way or another.
How do you cope with rejection? Both professionally and personally.
Whether in life or at work rejection is unavoidable. Professionally, when I get rejected by clients, I try not to take it personally. I see it as a chance to discover what I am lacking and improve my craft for future jobs. When it comes to my personal life, Iʼll take some time to process my emotions, be constructive and focus on what I can learn from it. It is easier said than done, but itʼs something I try to do whenever Iʼm faced with rejection.
Being in a competitive industry, what quality do you think you have that others don’t?
I believe that my passion is shown through my work. I give 110% of myself every time Iʼm on the job or having my own photoshoots. Iʼm very determined to be a great photographer and storyteller, and Iʼm always willing to learn and improve on my skills.
What was your previous venture before photography?
Before discovering my interest in photography, I wanted to be a journalist. I was actually majoring in journalism in college but writing didnʼt give me the satisfaction that photography did and eventually that pushed me to choose photography as a career.
Throughout your career, were there any regrets? If yes, what would you re-do if you could go back in time?
Of course, I have regrets but there isnʼt anything that I wouldʼve done differently. Going through those mistakes has shaped me to be who I am today. Iʼve learned from those mistakes to be a better photographer and a better person.
What are your plans in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, Iʼll be working towards building a production company and owning a studio. I also want to give back to society and the photography industry and create more projects to empower people and educate other young photographers.
For those introverts who are in dire need to let their inner passions out, what advice could you pass on to them?
Itʼs not easy taking the first step and going out of your comfort zone. It was a challenge for me too as I am also an introvert even though I may not look like one. I would say, take it one step at a time, challenge yourself to try new things even though it makes you uncomfortable.
What made you come up with the name, Cxpturing Souls?
The name “Cxpturing Souls” is pronounced capturing souls. I created the name 2 months into pursuing photography. I discovered that photography can capture so many emotions without using a single word and photos can capture the soul of what is in the picture hence why I created the name Cxpturing Souls.
A bit about mental health, how do you cope with it as an individual?
Depression and anxiety have been a part of my life for almost half of my life. Iʼve learned to express my feelings and talk about it with people that I trust. Talking openly about my depression and anxiety has helped me cope with it. The heavy burden that I once felt from keeping those feelings bottled in is no longer there.
Why is mental health awareness important, in your opinion?
Mental health is a topic we donʼt talk about enough. It is seen as something weak. Living in a conservative Asian society, we were taught to suppress our emotions and always portray what is expected of us.
Those who are afraid to get diagnosed, what advice can you give?
Acknowledging that you are real and your feelings are valid is the first step. If what youʼre going through is self-destructive please seek professional help. There is no shame in asking for help. In the end, your health is a priority.
How do you stay true to yourself?
The most important thing is to not let other peopleʼs opinions of me affect me and change who I am to fit who they want me to be. There will be times where peopleʼs opinions cloud my judgement but I will try to take a step back and analyse the situation and remind myself of who I truly am. Itʼs important to stay true to yourself and remember who you are especially when most of your life is on social media.
Lastly, what’s your definition of success?
Success to me is not about making a lot of money and being a millionaire. Success to me is happiness and contentment. I want to live a wonderful life and do so many things that challenge me. When I reach a certain age and I cannot do the things I used to do, I want to look back at my life and feel like Iʼve done it all and lived life to the fullest.