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My Ongoing Photography Journey: An Interview with 2 CPMC Alumni


The Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship (CPMC) is a milestone in the photographic journeys of its participants. We catch up with Luong Ngoc Thanh Thao (Tracy Thao Luong) and Saiwuttinon (Kops) Jirawat, who participated in the 2018 edition, and find out more about just how it has made a difference in their paths.


“I just know that when I'm immersed in shooting, I forget everything and it fills me with joy”

Tracy Thao Long

Luong Ngoc Thanh Thao (Tracy Thao Luong)
In the year since she won the Best of Show – Student Category in Canon PhotoMarathon Singapore XV 2017, Tracy has graduated from LaSalle College of the Arts with a Diploma in Broadcast Media, and started a photography and film-making business with a friend.


How did you get started in photography?

I started photography 10 years ago. My first camera was a Canon digital compact camera. It was my best friend who helped me realize that I had potential with photography. She was also the first person whom I took many portraits of.

What motivates you to keep shooting and improving?

I don't know what makes me keep shooting. I just know that when I'm immersed in shooting, I forget everything and it fills me with joy. The more I experiment with different genres, the more I love photography. I would say that photography and filmmaking are my biggest passions. Getting to know about photography is very helpful for filmmaking.

Ferris Wheel in Huis Ten Bosch

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 135mm/ Manual exposure (f/22, 2.5 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 500/ WB: Auto/ Location: Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture

You recently started a photography and videography business. Has going on CPMC helped with that?

My friend and I had been discussing starting a business for some time. I thought that it would be awesome if I could keep working with my passions and earn money from it! CPMC gave me a great opportunity to learn things that not only helped me grow as a photographer, but also run a photography business.

For example, I got to experiment with many other different genres beyond my usual portraiture and street photography, and in harsh weather conditions too. It’s very helpful because when you run a photography business, you will have to handle a wide variety of scenes, such as weddings—and you can’t control things like weather! I also got a lot of valuable practical advice on things such as how to communicate with clients from professional photographers such as GOTO AKI-san.

In fact, some clients approached me because of my experience with the CPMC and Canon PhotoMarathon. It assures them that they are hiring somebody reliable.


The CPMC photo I’m most proud of

Man feeding birds at Hiroshima Peace Park

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 135mm/ Manual exposure(f/5.6, 1/400 sec, EV+1 )/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto/ Location: Hiroshima Peace Park, Hiroshima Prefecture

“I like how you can feel the connection between man and animal. The man is feeding the birds in a way that suggests that he feeds them every day. This friendship between the man and birds are also an image of peace, which is very symbolic considering that this shot was taken in the Hiroshima Peace Park.”


A shot that reflects how I’ve grown as a photographer

Long exposure shot of Akiyoshi Cave

EOS 80D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Manual exposure (f/10, 10.0 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto/ Location: Akiyoshido Cave, Yamaguchi Prefecture

“I don’t usually shoot landscapes. Until this shot, I had always focused on capturing shots taken at the right moment. But here I tried the long exposure technique for the first time, and concentrated on the technique instead. It was interesting to shoot in a different style.”

Tracy’s tips for photographing at CPMC:
- Go creative with anything you have. (Any lens, any filter and props)
- Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try other photography genres, Picture Profiles, etc.
- Be alone while you're shooting. This helps you focus and encourages creativity.


“To me, every single person I meet is a teacher. I am grateful to have met so many teachers in my photography journey so far.”

Kops Jirawat

Saiwuttinon (Kops) Jirawat
The youngest participant in CPMC 2018 at age 17, Kops feels that the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship was more than just a competition—it brought together a community of photographers from all over Asia, creating opportunities to make new friends and share knowledge.


How did you get started in photography?

I got started in photography when I was 10 years old. I asked my father for a camera because I wanted to carry a camera like him. After that, the camera became almost like part of my body—I just kept taking lots of photos.

What motivates you to keep shooting and improving?

I love how I can express a thousand things with one photo. It is like being in a freedom zone. There are no rules, so you can make anything using photography techniques and your own creativity. I think this also helps you be more creative and adaptable in daily life.

How do you think CPMC has helped in your photography journey?

To me, every person I meet is a teacher. CPMC gave me the opportunity to meet many teachers. Because we speak a common language—the language of photography—we were constantly sharing knowledge with each other, such as how to make use of lighting to make a subject stand out better, how to create movement in the photo, and so on. Through them, I learnt some important things that will be useful almost every time.

Itsukushima Shrine with slow shutter clouds

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 16mm/ Bulb mode (f/16, 1 min 30 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: 4200K / Location: Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima Prefecture

CPMC also taught me how to think fast and shoot fast. At the Canon PhotoMarathon Singapore 2017, I spent a lot of time planning and took only 1 shot for each theme. But at CPMC, there were a lot of things we had to do, so I had to work within more time constraints.

You’re still a student. What do you hope to achieve with photography?

I want to be a director of photography in the movie industry. But before I achieve that, I have a lot of other goals to fulfil. One of them is to be a world-famous photographer, and to reach that goal, I have to keep getting better and better!


The CPMC photo I’m most proud of

Lady with umbrella

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/7.1, 1/640 sec, EV-1)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto/ Location: Fukuoka Prefecture

“I was on the bus when I saw this shot and liked the lighting a lot. I’m proud of this shot because the bus was moving and I had less than 1 second to shoot, yet, I managed to capture it. I feel that its simplicity reflects the simple style of life in Japan.”


A shot that reflects how I’ve grown as a photographer

Man across the bank at Mount Aso

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM/ FL: 61mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/16, 3.2 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto/ Location: Mount Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture

“From Goto-san, I learned how to create landscape photos that are more interesting because they tell a story. With this shot, I wanted to represent the two sides of people: The good side and the bad side. I imagined that the man on the opposite side of the lake is the other side of me.”

Kop’s tips for getting the best experience at CPMC:
- Before CPMC, practice photography.
- Look at other photographers’ photos and learn from them. But don’t copy them! Use them to get ideas to form your own unique style.
- Once you have found your own style, you can focus on improving other elements.


Find more about the CPMC experience in these articles: 
Through Different Lenses: An Interview with the CPMC 2018 Winners
Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2017 Report: Battle for Top Spot in Final Showdown in Japan!
3 Batches of CPMC Alumni Reunite in Singapore @ Canon


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