Travel Photography with Sinsee Ho
We welcome Sinsee Ho, from Malaysia to share with us her street photography in her homeland as well as her travel photography among the various countries she’s visited. She’s doing excellent work in some of the most beautiful places across Asia. We just had to ask her to share with us and have an interview for Talk Photography. We’re sure you’ll also find her work inspiring.
Thank you for joining us today Sinsee, to start could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in photography?
“I’m in talent sourcing and used to blog regularly on work related matters. To spice things up a bit, I thought inserting some photos shot by myself would be a good idea. So I got myself a compact camera and not long after, a Canon 7D. I fell in love with the dslr instantly. That was year 2010.
Born in Ipoh and bred in Kuala Lumpur. Was a Human Resource practitioner before I came out on my own to run a boutique recruitment agency that specialises in junior to middle management positions in Malaysia. I used to like a bit of oil painting when I was younger so I guess that might explain my love for anything art like photography. One of the first few motivations that got my interest in photography fired up was that at a very early stage of owning a DSLR, I’ve been very fortunate to have my photos short listed for some mini photo contests. I guess that gave me some affirmation that I might have an eye for a good visual story. I get a lot of help from internet, books and sharing from other fellow photographers. Honestly, I’m still learning every day and I guess the learning journey never ends.”
What equipment do you usually bring with you to use?
“One year ago, I migrated to full frame mirrorless, Sony A7RII. Together with a 24-70mm and a wide angle 18mm lens, that will be my primary gear for my travels or photo walk/special projects. I also use FujiFilm X100T sometimes and of course my iPhone is always with me. For landscape, a tripod and occasionally the 10 stop ND filter.”
Where have you traveled to for your photography? What are some of your favorite locations, and why?
“Mainly Malaysia and some cities in Asia such as Kyoto, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Hoi An, Siem Reap, Kathmandu, Bali and Luang Prabang. Last year, I managed to travel a bit further, Czech Republic. I think every place is unique and I have enjoyed traveling and taking photos in all these places.
It would be too long to mention all the places I’d love to talk about, so I’ll mention just 3 places for now that really stand out to me.”
“Hongcun, a little quaint town in Anhui China. I always enjoy everything vintage, that’s why I’m drawn to it. Even the people who live there seem to be unperturbed by the modern civilization.”
“Hoi An, what stood out was its Non La hats. They are everywhere. It’s a very colorful and vibrant town, I think I can spend days there without feeling bored. The street and people are all interesting subjects for photography.”
“Last but not least, Nepal. Not limited to Kathmandu alone. There was a village on a hill called Bandipur. Again, a quaint and charming place with lots of street and human interest photography. Absolutely enthralled by the simple life there. Overall Nepal is a very exotic place – lots of vibrant colors. The street scenes are very interesting with lots of activities. Just very lively atmosphere.”
What difficulties do you often face when traveling for photography? And how do you overcome those challenges?
“So far it has been quite easy. Thanks to the internet, information is in abundance, hence you have a pretty good idea on what and how to get to those places.
But perhaps for female photographers, safety is a concern in certain places. I’ve been fortunate because I travel mostly with my hubby but even then there were several occasions, in Malaysia actually while we were simply doing some street shots that I had come across strangers who out of no where approached me – a few of them quite intimidating, so could definitely be a concern. I guess it’s important to exercise some caution and be aware of one’s surroundings. Good to exercise some discernment too for example staying away from dodgy places.”
Can you share with us a few of your favorite photographs and explain the story behind them? What was the setting? The challenge of capturing the moment? (And so on)
Intv-saffron robes – [settings: f/6.3, 1/6 sec, ISO 100]
“I woke up at about 5am to witness the alms giving at Luang Prabang. Apart from the normal act of alms giving shots, I wanted to capture the flow of orange, thus this shot. I put my camera on the ground so that I can get a steady shot with the slow shutter speed. The sun was rising, thus the golden glow that pierce through the morning mist.”
Intv-Hmong kids – [settings: f/2.8, 1/500 sec, ISO 100]
“I was visiting the Hmong village outside Luang Prabang town. Was witnessing some children playing and suddenly the rain came. I quickly look for cover and opposite me was this scene. It was a precious moment when the big boy presumably the brother scoop the toddler up from the ground and onto his lap and sat on a bench. I wanted to get the raindrops so I used a faster shutter speed. I would say the challenge of this shot is that I have to act fast, while struggling to get myself away from the rain and not to get my camera wet, I have to choose between taking a quick shot and get cover quickly. It’s a tough choice sometimes.”
Intv-Hong Kong – [Settings: f/4, 1/200 sec, ISO 320]
“This is King’s Road Hong Kong. It was a Monday morning and I was on a pedestrian bridge. Looking down, I saw some people getting ready to commute. It was a somber mood, perhaps due to a cloudy day too. I get that urban fatigue feeling. I shot through the fence on the bridge, the black criss cross adds to the overall mood of this shot. Someone says you go out to shoot not what is out there but what you feel. I felt this statement was true when I did this shot.”
Intv-KL – [Settings: f/4.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 640]
“I took this shot in a temple at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It is usually quite crowded. So the challenge was to get the people you want inside the frame without other distractions. I wanted to capture the “staff” doing their stuff and not the devotees. It was a perfect set up especially when there was a visible sun ray that livens up the shot.”
Intv-Kyoto – [Settings: f/3.5, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000]
“I shot this back then with my Canon 7D and 70-200mm lens. It was raining at Arashiyama and I was holding an umbrella. I must say it was quite a feat for me to shoot with one hand – the camera/lens, they are not light, mind you! But it’s a shot that I will treasure. I guess I do enjoy shooting on a rainy day ☺”
Intv-Prague – [Settings: f/10, 1/250 sec, ISO 200]
“I shoot many landscapes but the ones I really like are those with some living beings in it be it animals or humans. Somehow a landscape with such elements breathes life to the photo. For this photo, the bird that flies in the sky makes the difference.”
Intv-Shah Alam – [Settings: f/16, 1/40 sec, ISO 250]
“I included this photo here since you like it! Haha.. I shot this photo at Shah Alam, a Ramadan bazaar nearby my house. It’s a busy and happening market place during the Ramadhan period. The challenge of this photo was trying to get the sun burst and trying to get all the important elements like the man on the bbq and the smoke in the frame, making it a well composed picture.”
Can you tell us what a typical photography trip is like? Take us with you and explain the basic idea of the trip from the start to finish.
“Before the trip, a basic itinerary that covers all the essential places will be drawn up. During the trip, I will usually check the weather forecast for the next day to see if any changes need to be made. For example, if you plan to hike in a jungle but it’s going to be a rainy day, then some adjustments might need to be made.”
“For landscape shots, you do want to get the best light. So mornings and evenings are the hours you do not want to miss. I will find out on the sunrise time and make sure to reach the location on time (yes, you sacrifice some beauty sleep). Any time between 11am to 4pm, the light is usually rather harsh so that’s when you can do other things like napping or shopping. The magic hour starts right before the sun sets, so this is the best time to catch some beautiful landscape shots.
For street shots, morning or evening light is great. But if it rained, it might be better as it’s a good opportunity to catch some interesting street shots. So for street photography, there is really no bad day.
I guess at the end of the day, it depends on how much photography you want to do. I like low light photography too in which I can dabble with slow shutter speed to create motion, hence I will continue to shoot after dinner but most of the time, I would be as tired as a dog. I will then just grab a beer and chill, no more pictures!”
What advice would you give to fellow photographers, and others planning to take photography trips, to travel and capture the beautiful world around them?
“Keep fit because there is a lot of walking involved. And wear a good pair of shoes. I also believe in wearing comfortable and dull color shirt/blouse and pants especially if you are doing a lot of street shots. You want to remain invisible, blend in the crowd as much as possible. And while we photographers enjoy seeing the world through the view finder and snapping frame after frame, it’s important to also take time to be still and let ourselves be soaked in the moment. And lastly, it’s more fun to have travel/photography partners – the joy of photography is doubled because of the shared experience. I’m blessed to have a hubby that shares the same passion with me.”
About Sinsee Ho
Sinsee Ho is a passionate photographer most interested in street photography and landscapes. She does excellent Travel photography through the many cities she’s visited over these past several years. You can find more work in Sinsee on her Instagram account.
We enjoy featuring inspiring creatives like Sinsee Ho, with the hopes of helping other photographers, both new and more experienced get motivated to create something amazing. Really all it takes is the motivation, the effort and continued practice. We hope you will get in touch with us and share your projects, stories and experiences.
A few articles you may also find very inspiring are Dr. Amit Dutta’s photography project of the Kumbh Mela in India, Takanori Tomimatsu’s Street photography throughout Tokyo, or our collective project featuring Street photographers from around the world.
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