At just 27 years of age, YT is fast becoming one of the best photographers in the sporting world.
A Singaporean, YT shot some incredible images for the FEI at the Longines FEI World Cup™Jumping, China League a while back.
His style is unorthodox and not the usual type of photography you might expect from the equestrian sporting world, and we like that a lot!
We sat down with him to find out a little more about what makes him tick…
YT, you’re still only 27 years old and started in photography just 4 years ago. Now you shoot for Getty Images. What's your secret?
I guess I got lucky somehow! I sent in my work to several agencies all around the world, and of course there were rejections and there were ignored mails as well, but I just kept at it, sending in new and better work and eventually I was fortunate to get noticed along the way.
I just jumped at every opportunity I could to photograph sports. It’s like playing sports – the more you practice, the better you get.
What made you want to focus on sports?
I grew up playing basketball competitively, and it’s really tough to make a living through sport in Singapore. Sport is in my blood, and I was pretty good at writing stuff, so I ventured out into sports journalism, and then sports photography.
Today, as a media professional, you can’t make a living just writing or taking photos. The world values multi-tasking!
Are you a rider?
No, unfortunately not! I only experienced riding a horse when I was 15 years old. That was just for a short while, say about 15 minutes or so.
Do you think that your non-equestrian background has an influence on the images you take? They are not traditional poses for horse sports.
Probably! Because I’ve seen so many, I try to stand out from the crowd by avoiding the conventional images.
Due to my love for writing as well, I prefer to look at things from a story-telling perspective and at every assignment I go, I try my best to look for images that can help me achieve that.
What do you look for in a scene to get a great shot?
First and foremost, backgrounds are always vital. In sports, clean backgrounds – rid of clutter – are always desired for.
But sometimes, at certain venues, you can’t control such stuff, so I would opt for backgrounds that can help me complete a particular story or a theme, such as in equestrian, having the stables and riding equipment all over can tell you so much about the sport.
Interactions and peak moments are also vital. A good photographer must always be prepared and be able to capture these. Because moments like that last for only seconds, if you miss them, there is no way to replicate the exact moment.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers wanting to make a break into professional sports photography?
The most important part about photography is that it's a lifelong learning journey. You always learn something everyday.
Some people start out small, earning tiny sums. Some start out shooting for their families, friends and peers at sporting events. But at the end of the day, when you feel like you’ve done enough and you got something decent going for you, start charging proper rates.
You also need to be able to take criticisms really well. People will tell you things about your images that you do not like and want to hear. You may like a particular image, but when someone else tells you that they do not like it, do not get offended.
After all, your photography is meant for the eyes of the world outside. People try to see things through your images and that’s what our images are meant for.