~Malaysian Instagram photographer Azlan Sulaiman talks about the creative process in his acclaimed images and how technology has changed the way people take photos~
“Being famous online is like being rich in Monopoly.
It’s not real. Fame is fleeting,
more sowith social media.”
– Azlan Sulaiman-
I’m currently based in Kuala Lumpur where I’m working as a social media specialist. I’m originally from Tawau and the fourth of six siblings. In my free time, I love travelling, practicing Mixed Martial Arts, and of course always sharing my experiences on Instagram via my @azlansulaiman account! I’ve been gramming for the past two years and initially I didn’t expect to have many Instagram followers because the original intent was to stay connected with friends.
Instagram was first created to share important moments instantly with your smartphone hence the name though many are starting to use DSLRs. While DSLRs offers a better image quality, I continue using a smartphone because it’s convenient and it is always with me. Inspiration can strike from anywhere and I used to upload three photos a day on Instagram. Now, I usually post one a day due to other commitments.
Technology is improving and many smartphone cameras today offer results as similar to compact cameras or better. With a smartphone camera, you have play to its strengths. The depth of field (DOF) and zoom on a smartphone camera is limited so you have to go as minimal and as close as you can. Less is more.
Another thing that has changed in photography in general is the taboo on digitally manipulating images. Now, it’s accepted as long as it doesn’t look too obvious or having the original intent of the photo altered. It is also a lot easier to do nowadays with many smartphone apps which allow you to manipulate images straight off the phone. I use apps like SKRWT to adjust my angle and composition, Retouch to get rid of unwanted elements, Snapseed to balance lighting and saturation and VSCO Cam to apply presets to my images. Editing a picture may take awhile as its a subjective process.
The most prominent stylistic elements in mobile photography can be divided into object(s), background, angles, shapes and colours. By manipulating these aspects when composing the shot, bear in mind the capabilities of your smartphone camera so that afterwards with the apps, you may be able to get an Instagram worthy shot.
With all that said, I am very grateful for the attention and the opportunities I’ve received via Instagram, including my current job. People recognise me in the streets and have even asked me to take photos with them. I don’t assume that all my successes are triumphs though, as they are only virtually there. Being famous online is like being rich in Monopoly. It’s not real. Fame is fleeting, more so with social media.
Azlan ’s Top Tips: Three tips to capture Instagram worthy shots
Lighting is Essential
Try and take photos using daylight for better overall results. If you take photos after sundown or in low light, ensure you have enough light sources be it overhead lighting, a lamp or if you find yourself in a pinch, use another smartphone’s camera flash to adequately capture your subject.
Subjects & Backdrops
After composing a shot, try and put an unusual subject or an object in it. It’s more appealing than simply shooting an empty landscape. Try placing the object in the centre of the photo for a simple, minimalist approach though this isn’t a cast iron rule. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Follow the Trend or Create Your Own
Get an idea of current trends in regards to presets and styles by following popular local Instagram accounts that feature artists like @artventurers, @my_genggua, @igersganu and @themalaya_ig You need to know the rules to break them and knowing what’s popular will let you know what to improve on.