2017: A Year in Photos
**I made this blog post back in December 2017, but I obviously didn't finish it on time, nor had the motivation to finish it up. Opening this up eight months later has been a pleasant surprise, reading my diary and looking back. I tried to finish up the last few months, but the details are blurry. However, I did still want to launch this because it does show a lot of growth, both in my art and personal. Now onto the blog:
A year ago, I launched this website to contain my new portfolio, and what a year it as been. 2017 had many ups and downs (very high highs, and very low lows), but overall was one of the most self-defining years of my life thus far.
Let's take a journey:
When midnight hit, I was not out with bright lights or strangers. In fact, I was snoozing on the couch in Singapore, with my dad waking me when the fireworks went off on TV. Funny enough, I do believe this did set a tone to my year (not that I'll be a bum on the couch, but rest has become something I cherish).
I started my final semester of college. I had my first failed job interview process, which was my first disappointment of the year. I had put all my all into nailing this job, but had fallen short. This failure had only made me stronger, however. In fact, this has helped me become more focus in my career and reaching my goals.
I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for the first time to celebrate Mardi Gras with my best friend. Man, what a weekend. What I love about New Orleans and Louisiana in general is its vibrant culture. Everyone I had met welcomed me with open arms (shoutout to Amiel for welcoming her home to us). Maybe it's the charm of the south, but the jazz music and green and purple waves made this trip one of the most exhausting weekends of my life, but so, so worth it.
March. This is one of my favorite months of the year. The air is crisp from cold months, and it brings new adventure. SXSW energy carries a new spirit to the Austin community. Visitors come from all over the world to visit our little city in the heart of Texas, including one of my best friends from home. Great conversation as we question what the future holds for post-graduation.
It is this time of the year that sparks something in me to create more for the sake of passion, not grades. I start advertising grad sessions to my classmates. And, for some crazy, unknown reason, word gets out not only to St. Edward's, but also University of Texas and Texas State. To be
The tides are shifting. Different sections of my life close (ie leaving my internship of 10 months
to go on the job hunt), while other ones crack open. I’m surrounded by friends almost 24/7,
soaking in the last few weeks of college.
Throughout my life, I’ve always told myself “how can I be better”, or “I’m not good enough, I’m
not there yet”. This mission for self improvement never ends, in all aspects of my life: personal,
professional, health. However, I have no idea what March and April did for me, as I shot 20+
grad sessions, but my confidence in my photographer flourished. I set aside my fears and
decided to dive into the deep end. In April, I had the opportunity to shoot for Passengers, one
of my favorite bands, in replacement of one of my favorite photographers, Jarad Seng (it later
turns out Jarad couldn’t make it because he was off filming Survivor (Australia)!).
Career-wise, I managed to obtain a full-time job at a marketing agency called David Wood and
Associates (DWA) as a media coordinator. How I got the job was all happenstance, as I reached
out to the GM of the new Austin office, asking for a phone call. Little did I know that this GM
would have lived in Singapore as well, and would truly shape my professional career the rest of
On May 13th , I graduated from college with a 3.88 GPA with summa cum laude honors with a
BBA in Digital Media Management. Family from all over the world came for this occasion. My
uncle and baby cousin drove in from San Antonio, Texas. My sister and her partner from
Houston, Texas. My aunt and great aunt and uncle flew in from Detroit, Michigan. Most
importantly, my parents made the 27-hour journey from Singapore to watch me walk the stage.
In high-school, I remember half-heartedly listening to my commencement ceremony, just
waiting until it was over and I could go celebrate with my friends. This time, however, I listened
hard, knowing this was probably the last time I will ever be in the education system. College
didn’t bring me keg stands and Greek life, like other universities. College had allowed me to
step out of my Expat Bubble and truly form my identity. It gave me sisters and mentors and the
foundation of “having my shit together”. And while I had to say many goodbyes, change was
evident and being able to adapt has been the most important thing of all this year.
After six weeks of straight shooting, I took some time off photography in May to breathe and be
with my family (minus a little shoot here and there). Real world was coming, whether I wanted
it to or not.
Summer time in Texas is both a blessing and a curse. Days last longer; the heat could feel like
you’re trapped on the sun. Because the sun shines for longer, my days are more productive and
I can fill more in. My list of to-dos actually get accomplished for this reason. You know how your
body reacts to the seasons? My body loves summer.
I started working full-time the day after Memorial Day, and what a change. Jumping into agency
life, there are so many unknown terms: programmatic marketing, content syndication, lead
generation, CPM, 3rd party segments, etc. Learning became a top priority for me at work, as I
listened in on client calls, taking notes on things that didn’t make sense.
June also helped me create what I call my “soul sessions”: shoots for me with no pressure but
to experiment and create. My firstsoul session was with Sanetra. We met through Instagram,
and while we only see each other every one in awhile, she was the first stepping stone into the
Austin creative community for me. Sanetra is cool. We worked so well together, and were able
to paint a photograph together.
Wake up, work, be in the sun, shoot. That was my July. I am truly a sun child, and all I want to
do is be outside during the summer. This July, I also turned 23.
Work had brought me to San Francisco for training in the main global office. I got to see old
friends and explore a new city. I worked hard, but also let my inner child play.
See, this is why I take photos: life goes by in a blur. We take on life day by day, but eventually
days blur with key highlights of our lives. I’m not sure exactly what I did in August, but here are
On Labor Day, I took a plane to Seattle to visit a friend I had only met a handful of times. Jayna
is one of those special gems. I met her in 2012 through a sports exchange in high school (no I
didn’t play LOL) in Singapore; we saw each other at a conference in Manila in 2013; we
travelled to Canon Beach and spent Thanksgiving together in 2015; finally, I travelled to her
home of Seattle two years later.
Jayna is bright. She views the world through bright eyes and the upmost potential. She
welcomes everyone she meets as if a long lost friend, and strives to connect all of her loved
ones. I had the honor of shooting couple photos of her and her beau, Noah, at one of the most
Once I got back to Austin, my beautiful Bri came to visit from LA. We went to a beautiful winery,
sipped wine, and danced our hearts away.
Have I mentioned yet in this blog post how much I love photography? Not just the fact that I get
to make pretty things, but I have been able to create a community with others who have their
souls on fire.
The biggest “oh shit I love this” moment came with a Facetime call with a client. She told me I
had all creative power in this shoot, and she was game for everything; rolling around in the
ground, getting in lakes, etc. I think back on the fifteen year old me in my small backyard with a tripod and remote, would never have imagined this would happen. That I could get PAID to create art. And still, everyday I feel so blessed.
In November, it was about family time. I got to go home for the first time in a year, back to Singapore. It seemed like the month went by in a blur, so here are some relevant photos that I took with me and Tati:
December was a surprisingly a busy month for me, photo-wise! Two winter weddings plus some senior sessions. I remember just thinking "oh god, how am I going to shoot when it's cold out". One wedding was absolutely beautiful; the other it rained all day and the reception was just a muddy mess. However, both brought such a unique flavor, I am so grateful I get to call this my job.