Looking back at 2016, I didn't really think I could survive in the industry here in Singapore, but it turned out alright. I'm thankful for all the opportunities and trust given by the respective agencies, editors and clients, which helped make the year a pretty good one. Never in my life would I dream of getting my work featured, and this year I had two - an interview by the FEI, and two of my frames made it into AP's list of Asia's best sports photos of the year. Thank you FEI and AP.
Compared to back when I graduated in 2015, I think 2016 was good, but it could be better. I was more prepared for assignments, and I learned how to plan for pictures better. And I asked questions. Asked colleagues and people around for help with stuff. Naturally, some didn't really work out, but I still had some stroke of luck, such as the celebration by now-retired F1 driver Nico Rosberg during the Singapore Grand Prix, which has become my all-time favorite.
I'm daunted by what 2017 has to offer, because as a freelancer, there are several things that constantly bugs the mind. There are some who think that I'm doing well, but in actual fact, I think I'm not, and still scraping, but the situation is definitely way better than it was back in 2015. In Singapore, where the market isn't desirable for editorial work, trying to make the cut as a freelancer is as good as courting death. But hopefully, things will take a turn for the better, and I pray for a good year ahead.
Here are some of the events that I covered through the year, along with my favorite frames.
FEI World Cup Jumping - China League
This was my second assignment for the FEI, and this was one assignment that I really enjoyed. My assignment was to look for quiet moments, interactions and stories behind the competition and there were simply too many.
ASEAN University Games
Sometimes, you just walk into a bigger event, and end up getting only one frame that you like. This was very much the case at the ASEAN University Games. Super fortunate that the sun was setting and the rain clouds were coming in as well, giving me a bit of that contrast in the sky.
Singapore National Games
This wasn't exactly a big event, but more of a community sports event that I was assigned to cover. Similar to my experience at the ASEAN University Games, I only found one frame that I like. Because of clutter in Singapore venues, getting clean backgrounds is challenging and I was fortunate that this particular venue had a second level viewing gallery that I could photograph from.
F1 Singapore Grand Prix
My virgin F1 experience left me wanting more. I can't describe it proper, but this is my favorite assignment of the year. I was lucky to be in the right places at the right time - catch a crash; catch a super Nico Rosberg celebration. Beginner's luck I guess? Super thanks to Charlie, Maye-E and Crusty for the guidance, tips and trust on this assignment. Sadly, Singapore may have its last F1 race in 2017.
Hong Kong Cyclothon
Cycling is one of my favorite sports to photograph, but in all honesty, I've only photographed the sport once. But of course, reading up on how to photograph the sport and understanding the sport made me fall in love with it. The competition route was fantastic, providing several environmental elements that I could add to my frames.
FINA Swimming World Cup
I've shot a lot of swimming, and because of that, sometimes, it's not so easy to get something different. But sometimes, you get nice light filtering into the venue and thinking fast helps. Also this event is fresh off the Summer Olympic Games in Rio, so maybe that's why South African Chad le Clos appeared extremely relaxed, both in and out of the pool.
The WTA Finals, while not as prestigious as the Slams, to me, is still fun to photograph. This year, Dominika Cibulkova was an absolute pleasure to photograph - her joy, frustrations, and all other emotions were all left on court. Also, compared to the previous two editions held here, I found myself thinking about my frames, and making use of my environment. Super thanks to Edgar for sharing and guiding me along as well, especially for the mirror-image.
BOUNCE After Dark Party
This wasn't exactly a major event, but it wasn't something that I was looking forward to cover initially, because photographically, the pictures would not look good. But it turned out that the organizers had special lights installed just for the event, and voila. Despite a poorly lit venue, which in most cases warrant higher ISO values, why not turn the situation to my advantage?
Singapore Snooker Open Final
I've never photographed snooker or any other cuesport, and this was a good and challenging experience at the same time. It was difficult to get a nice clean background with people and banners around, but there was this black backdrop that I got lucky with. All I needed to do was wait and eventually it paid off.