As young as she is, Manita Goh is yet an outstanding photographer especially when it comes to BW architectural work. She has a charming and strong personality and acquired already an incredible level of wisdom.
She quotes: “The most important experiences would be the observations I make when I’m out alone shooting. In this modern era of technology, many people are so glued to their phones or laptops that they stop appreciating the art around them. It’s an irony that people appreciate beautiful things on social media but seldom appreciate the actual beauty in front of their eyes. It somehow affected and influenced my art which present a different perspective of things with my own vision and identity.”
Let's listen to what this great young artist has to tell and reveals in this fine interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, dear Manita.
I am 18 years of age and a college student studying in Singapore. I am the youngest in the family and have two elder brothers who do not share the same passion. Besides photography, I still enjoy my other hobbies like dancing, movies, volunteering and listening to music. I’m doing my final year in college and looking forward to gain a place in a good university.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I started photography at a young age of 10. Since it was very uncommon for a young child like me to own a DSLR, I was often mocked and laughed at by older photographers for owning such a camera that was too professional to handle. This experience drove me to work much harder towards improving my photography skills through learning and watching tutorials on YouTube and wanting to prove that despite being a young child, I was capable of so much more than what people confined me to. As Vice-President of my school’s Student Council for the past 4 years, I have learnt to be focused and have the determination to complete a task as efficiently as I can and this has affected my photography putting great amount of effort needed to constantly improve my skills.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
The most important experiences would be the observations I make when I’m out alone shooting. In this modern era of technology, many people are so glued to their phones or laptops that they stop appreciating the art around them. It’s an irony that people appreciate beautiful things on social media but seldom appreciate the actual beauty in front of their eyes. It somehow affected and influenced my art which present a different perspective of things with my own vision and identity.
What first attracted you to photography?
I was a young girl envious of others who owned a camera and able to produce amazing photos and great work. Only after I got my camera did I start exploring photography as an art. Now, I appreciate photography even more due to its ability to encapsulate a moment in time that can never repeat itself again; it rekindles lost memories, allowing us the joy to appreciate the things in life.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
The overall vision is to bring to the table the elements and content that offers an alternative vision in black and white far more expressive in presentation to the viewers.
Why are you so drawn by Architecture Photography?
I always perceive buildings as something that is larger than life with beauties of shapes, depth and dimension that tell the story how an architect expresses the emotion of such design. Architecture photography in black and white focuses a lot on working with different light and shadows in many different ways presenting one particular building with control over the tonal range, dynamics, definitions and point of views.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
The mood/story is most important to me and how the flow of emotions can be an interpretation of my vision to the viewers.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
An observer will generally view architecture simply on the overall design, façade and height.
Beyond all of this, I will look for different types of shapes, lines and textures and possible POV's for composition and framing.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
No, I don’t normally prepare but will try not to repeat the same location too many times.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I am using a Canon 7D, Sirui Tripod, 10mm – 22mm lens, LEE ND Filters (up to 20 stops stacked).
What software do you use to process your images?
Main Software: Photoshop CS
Main Plug-in – Nik Soft Silver Efex Pro
Others: - Nik Soft Color Efex Pro and Topaz
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I use the same workflow designed by Joel Julius Tjintjelaar. The technique known as SGM (selective gradient masking) and ISGM (iterative selective gradient masking). Further into it, I will work with curves in PS, certain presets in nik soft color efex and Topaz.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Architecture Photography and how do you get started?
It is the same for every genre of photography and that is to work hard and practice hard. For architecture it would be best to explore not only the front façade but all around the building in finding a good angle or perspective. The best way is to shoot and evaluate the different point of views and perspective with your phone first. Look through the shots and then decide the best spot to setup your actual gear. You will save a lot of time and the effort of moving around while lugging heavy equipment. Try to avoid distracting elements like trees and people.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
I am still very much in the learning curve and there are so many who have inspired me in different ways. If I just have to choose one, it would be Ansel Adams and his wisdom.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
No specific direction or goal, I am taking it one step at a time to further improve my skills.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My favourite is “Elements”. It demonstrates different types of façade, shapes and texture and how light and shadow define its form and structure.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I believe 1x is the only photo hosting site with architecture images which are truly inspirational.
A hosting site not based on quantities but qualities. There is no better place to be inspired and improve myself.