wysiwyg ... putting myself into my work , literally..

do you remember those catchy phrases that ads use to catch your attention?

or like anagrams that send a message?

like WYSIWYG - what you SEE is what you get

or the famous words of Confucius : (??)

A picture is worth a thousand words,

which in the 60s, or was it 70s, was cleverly reworded by singer Rod Stewart

to make his own Every Picture Tells a Story.

Have you ever tried to be a master by taking something from a master and making it your own?

Cheating? some may say.

But just for this blog, let's forget about the rights or wrongs of it.


have you ever put yourself LITERALLY into your work?

Well, this blog is more or less the germ of those things:

-pictures telling a story

- channeling the masters

- putting oneself into one's work.

In all my 20 years of photography business, starting out as a fresh faced graduate from NYI to begin a freelance career in the capital of Canada, right up to this day , as more or less , semi-retired to be a consultant and teacher , I have mostly been behind the camera.

I enjoy capturing people in their candid splendour, freezing time of a captured moment ." le moment decisif " - as the great Henri Cartier Bresson helped named it and since then been associated with it.

I also enjoy using stark realism to evoke a feeling and a human response like the great photo essayist and photo journalisn -W Eugene Smith. This man , whom after reading about his life and many hours of oggling at his photo contributions , was solely responsible for getting me to start my own career as a photo- journalist.

Then later, to branch off to capturing beautiful graceful women, learning to light them so splendidly and remarkably like Cecil Beaton in all those classic movies that borne his amazing lighting, and also to a lesser extent the glamour photography of Richard Avedon.

My all time favourite whom I chose to be my own mentor, is the man whom I was blessed to meet to show my piddly portfolio that very week I got to Ottawa . It was the grand Yousouf Karsh, who told me that it's easy for anyone to be a great photographer, but to be a great human being that takes more practice.

And once that is started, you can then be able to capture the essence of such humanity in your own photographs.

You cannot succeed without these two elements working in tandem.

Ansel Adams - whose Zone Technique taught me how to see the shades of grey and how to wait for the light to capture as much of what nature can perform. He too, from his books I read , traverse such a humanity, if not , that deep profound ability to be one with his work and his environment.

All that being said,

how long does it take to be as good as these masters?

It's much like any other art, isn't it? Like a great teacher once said to a student at a seminar . There is a certain young man here who prides himself as a master who knows it all, and have mastered the arts. He is truly very good at what he has learned. However,passing the grades and copying the masters is not mastering the arts or getting into the work to become a master. It requires creating something unique of yourself, and putting this self into your work.That makes a master. And as far as I know,it takes a little more than a lifetime to become that sort of a master ." (psst, that student he mentioned...lol, it was me!)

All here, only fragments of thoughts; most of which I don't even know makes sense or not. It's always impossible to try to encapsulate your deepest feelings into a few paragraphs of written

words. You cannot do it successfully, as these are two extreme

elements, much like the left and right side of your brain.

Do you see ?

It's not just only me, my eyes, my face, you see...

but that's me... the thought that came before the images.

Still very much a student.

I have the rest of my life to complete this task.

No hurry there.

I keep passion above all else.

It's that one element that makes the diff between

a good photograph and a great one.

cheers for coming by here to read this,

matt JSL tan.

Photo credits: , Tan510jomast.

Your article must be written in English

August 11, 2009


Nice blog article.

August 10, 2009


cheers all for your wonderful input.

btw larry, you can have me to pose for you anytime. just send me an air-ticket to your city. and make sure to stock up on Guinness.
Larry, you rock !!!

August 10, 2009


Just awesome work! I wish I had as good a model as you! :) I had seen photos of you before but the ones you have added I thought were of an older man. Still with a very interesting face. Keep it above the belt and shoot some more! :)


August 10, 2009



August 09, 2009


Wow, very deep insight. Follow your heart.

August 09, 2009


a great read! thank you :) keks

August 09, 2009


Excellent article! Just after I left high school I read a book about Robert Capa and Magnum and that jump started my dreams of becoming a photographer. I got side tracked a couple of years later by marriage & children, but the dream has always been there. 20ish years later I'm relearning all about photography, but I'm now coming from a more spiritual and centered place. I'm no longer the girl that wants to take photos for the glamor and fame. I now try to put more of me into my images. Just got to wait for the technical ability to catch up with my ideas :0)

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