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Inspirations >> Photos & People

On a Quest to Capture the Picture Perfect Moment


The annual, region-wide Canon Photomarathon is a signature event in the photography scene, drawing thousands of photographers to the single-day photo competition. The key draw of the contest is no doubt the Photo Clinic grand prize, and we speak to Hector Niam from Regional ICP Sales and Marketing, to understand more about the Photo Clinic and its appeal.

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Dream trip to a photogenic location

- What is the Photo Clinic?

Hector The Photo Clinic is the grand prize for the regional Canon Photomarathon. It is an all-expense paid photo trip to a photogenic location, where the participants can learn from an experienced photographer and instructor, as well as from each other. It is a dream trip for photographers, where they get to eat, sleep and do photography for the entire duration with like-minded individuals!

- When was the last Photo Clinic held?

Hector The last Photo Clinic was held in Japan, from 13th to 21st January 2015. We had the privilege of having one of the most esteemed Japanese photographers - Herbie Yamaguchi, to join us as the photo mentor for the group. For this particular trip, we visited incredibly scenic spots which included the snow monkeys' park, a world heritage site and a traditional lighting up festival. We held a photo review session on alternate evenings for the participants, and Herbie would critique their images and share his vast photography experience.

(Photo by: Donnie Gervacio Sinongco)
EOS 6D/ FL:24mm/ (f/4, 1/200 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

- What other places has the Photo Clinic been conducted?

Hector We have organised the Photo Clinic for 8 years, and some of the previous destinations include Japan, as well as Tasmania, Turkey and Hungary. Before we decide on any destination, we have to consider various aspects such as participants' safety, food and hygiene, photo opportunities and other logistic matters.

- How do participants get selected?

Hector The grand winner from each Photomarathon event will be entitled to join us for the Canon Photo Clinic. Last year, we had the largest group because all the NSOs participated, and we had Cambodia and Brunei joining Canon Photomarathon for the first time as well. With a total of 8 countries and 12 cities, we saw an incredible total of 19,000 participants who participated in the competition, of which 14 winners joined us for the Photo Clinic.

Cultivating love for photography

- What are the challenges encountered in organising it?

Hector There are the usual logistics issues one would face when organising any trip, such as coordination for the participants from various countries, and the complexity of visa applications from some. Language can be a barrier as well, since not every participant speaks English fluently, so for the last trip we had four Canon staff acting as translators. In addition, we have to be mindful of the dietary concerns of some participants, who required halal and vegetarian food. In addition, because the participants are passionate photographers, it is extremely difficult to keep our group on schedule because everyone would inevitably stray off upon seeing a photogenic opportunity, so urging them to stay on track is our biggest challenge!

- How does the Photo Clinic fit into Canon's strategy?

Hector Canon is a giant in the world of photography, and our success lies in connecting with the consumer's love for photography. The Photo Clinic is our marketing tool for cultivating and furthering interest in photography, and the trip provides a great opportunity for the winners to capture elusive images that they might not be able to easily achieve on their own.

- How do you think participants benefited from it?

Hector Throughout the trip, we saw the participants improving significantly through the mentorship and interaction with others. Some participants are very good when it comes to conceptualising their shots, so there was improvement in technical aspects of photography for them. In addition, the participants had access to exotic Canon lenses and cameras which we brought along, which was a great benefit to them.

(Photo by: Endang Tonari)
EOS 6D/ FL: 15mm/ (f/5.6, 1/100 sec)/ ISO 5000/ WB: Auto

(Photo by: Donnie Gervacio Sinongco)
EOS 6D/ FL:200mm/ (f/2.8, 1/50 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

- Were there any interesting experiences encountered?

Hector There were several, but the most memorable had to be an embarrassing incident involving one of our participants. During the Photo Clinic in Japan, we stayed in the traditional ryokan (inn) on several nights, and the Japanese custom is to change into the yukata for dinner at the dining hall. On the last night in Tokyo, we stayed at a large modern hotel, and one of the participants turned up at the restaurant for dinner in a bathrobe! Needless to say, everybody split their sides laughing, except for the poor participant who rushed back up to the room to change.

- How do you see Photomarathon and Photo Clinic moving ahead?

Hector The Photomarathon picked up a lot of momentum in the recent years, and many other countries have expressed keen interest in organising the contest as well. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Philippines may join our Photomarathon this year, and Canon Australia will also be launching their inaugural Photomarathon this year!

(Photo by: Donnie Gervacio Sinongco)
EOS 6D/ FL:24mm/ (f/4.5, 1/125 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

(Photo by: Agus Supriyanto)
EOS 60D/ FL:10mm/ (f/5.6, 1/10 sec)/ ISO 3200/ WB: Auto