Professional wedding photographer Evelyn Lam tells Izwan Ismail why she left a comfy career to go behind the lens
CONFIDENT, reassuring and an achiever — that’s the impression most people get when they meet Evelyn Lam for the first time.
It comes as no surprise as Lam has worked her way up the corporate ladder in the high-paying sectors, like insurance and telecommunications for 10 years. While many would have been elated with the achievements, Lam, on the other hand, craved for something more. She left all that she was familiar with, career-wise, and embraced photography.
“After a decade in the corporate world, I felt that I wasn’t getting job satisfaction. So I decided to pursue something that I’ve always liked doing... photography,” she says.
It has been four years since she left her nine-to-five job, but Lam has never regretted her decision. Although her involvement in professional photography is new, Lam has achieved quite a few milestones in this arena.
She has been certified a Master Photographer by the Master Photographers Association, UK — the first female photographer to be thus accredited in Malaysia — and has been and is involved in a number of notable photography projects and exhibitions.
“I’ve always liked to take pictures, but never thought that I would be involved in photography as a business one day,” says the soft-spoken Lam at her photo studio in Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
TAKING IT SERIOUS
Lam’s early days in the photography world was nothing out of the ordinary. One of her favourite past-times, she would take pictures of her favourite subject, people, using her point-and-shoot Canon compact camera. Her knowledge of cameras was very limited then.
“I had no idea whatsoever about ISO, aperture, speed, etc,” she says, with a smile.
However, Lam was lucky to have Peter Tan as professional photography partner. Tan has a wedding and portrait studio known as Peter Tan Photography (www.petertanphotography.com).
In 2008, when she decided to leave her office job, Tan gave her a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera to toy with. Lam was out of her depth and found starting with a professional dSLR straightaway a big jump.
“It was a big professional dSLR camera and, having no idea how to use it, I had to learn from other photographers, especially Tan, and blogger friends who were good at taking pictures, and by reading books and researching online,” says Lam.
She did not learn about the technicalities of the dSLR then but more about composing the shots and trying to tell stories with them.
Once she had mastered the techniques such as composition and framing, she studied the technical details like ISO, aperture, white balance, shutter speed and so on.
Within two years, she proved that a female photographer could also carve a name in the industry, especially in wedding and portraits photography.
In April 2010, she received her Master Photographer certification and never looked back since.
Recently, Lam was nominated as one of the Top 10 Female Wedding Photographers by Faces Magazine and she was one of 10 women photographers chosen by Canon Marketing Malaysia, to have their works displayed at the Femme City exhibition at the KLCC Convention Centre. She’s also a member of Canon Professional Service and Canon EOS Buddy Club and her photos are showcased at Infinity Wedding Mall.
Lam photographed singer and songwriter Jason Derulo during his concert in Kuala Lumpur. Most recently, she was one of four women photographers chosen to shoot the theatrical performance of Women: 100, A 100 Year Celebration Of Women’s Independence. She also shot several other theatrical performances, namely The Good Body by Susan Lankaster, Taming Of The Shrew and Gods Of Carnage.
WEDDINGS AND PORTRAITS
For Lam, a photo is at its best when there is life and emotion in it.
“It (the photo) will have more to tell if there are people in it,” she says, hence her focus in wedding and portrait photography.
She loves to capture the intimacy and passion between a couple purely because she wants her clients to remember that same emotional connection, years down the road.
“That’s the best day of their lives and I want, through my photos, for them to be able to remember it,” she says.
For her, one of the challenges in shooting memorable wedding photos, is to make the couple pose naturally.
“They are at their best for photography when they are relaxed and unaware of the photographers. For example, I’d ask the groom to whisper to the bride so that I can take shots which look as natural as possible,” she says.
Lam does wedding shoots with Tan. Usually, she will shoot the groom,while Tan will shoot the bride.
“As a woman, I know how I want the groom to look and vice versa. It works all the time,” she says. “If the bride wants a female photographer, we will exchange places,” she adds.
Besides taking pictures, Lam also does the wedding album layout before sending them for print.
Today, with the availability of HD video recording on the dSLR, Lam also provides important clips of the wedding to her clients.
Wedding photography has taken Lam and Tan to many beautiful places around the world such as Venice in Italy.
As a wedding photographer, Lam believes in word-of-mouth in getting clients.
“Most of our customers are friends, friends of friends and relatives. A few found us online. We are friends with most of our clients and we maintain the relationship even after the job is done,” she says.
Lam is now busy with a new project, an online digital wedding magazine called LifeStyleBrides.com (www.facebook.com/LifeStyleBrides). It’s an online magazine for photographers and wedding couples.
For those who want to venture into professional photography, Lam says: “If you have passion, go for it. But it needs a lot of commitment.”