Never one to stick to a formula, Triston Yeo adapts and evolves his skills through personal experimentation. This has served him well in photography, for both work and self. Find out what makes him tick.
Could you tell me a little about yourself, as well as what made you pick up photography and motivated you to pursue this as a career?
I picked up photography naturally due to my interest in art, and during my university days, I saved up enough pocket money to buy my first film SLR camera. After freelancing at Mediacorp for a period, I left to become a full-time photographer because I feel that’s what really shapes and defines me.
You seem to have a variety of photography styles based on your website. Is there a favourite, and if so, why?
I do not have a fixed way of shooting my subjects. I’m constantly unsatisfied with my photos so I constantly evolve. The way I shoot now can be totally different a year ago, so I do not have a particular favourite.
Even though you have no particular style, is there a genre or subject you enjoy shooting? And if so, why?
Personally, I love travel photography. I enjoy finding beauty in the world, even at manmade or natural disaster sites. When the Tsunami struck Sri Lanka on 26 Dec 2004, a lot of houses were destroyed and many people are displaced. I brought a group of volunteers to distribute rice, and at the same time, showcased the beauty of Sri Lanka even after the disaster in a photo exhibition sponsored by Canon and Cathay Photo.
When evolving your style, what external inspirations do you draw from?
For me, I love to look at creative images either online or at photo exhibitions. I would say that we should also look at paintings and drawings of all genres. They give me a lot of inspiration.
At the same time, do you get stuck? And how do you get out of those situations?
If I run into a creative block, I would choose to go on an adventure overseas and get lost. It is really therapeutic to discover new things around me without having the pressure to shoot a good photo. Commercially, I would try to discuss it with the creative director. If it is because of my own technical inadequacy, then I will seek advice and help from peers in the industry.
Is there a particular genre you are interested in exploring next?
It would either be Fashion or Car Photography. I love to follow fashion but I have never had the chance or courage to explore this genre seriously. Perhaps one day I will explore this genre for a charitable cause. As for car photography, I am super inspired by a good friend of mine, Andy, based in Shanghai. He is one of the best car photographers I know.
What’s your favourite place that you’ve photographed?
It’s a tough call. I guess I’ll choose Budapest because I won the Top Prize for my entry “Bathing in Budapest” in the 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest. The thermal spas there are popular among locals, especially in winter, and I was fortunate to gain special access to shoot there. I loved the mist caused by the great difference in temperature between the hot spa water and the atmosphere, making the entire spa experience more surreal and mystical.
What are some the Canon camera gear that you own that is in your go-to bag?
It’s a long list:
- Canon EOS-1DX Mark II
- Canon EOS 6D
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Canon TS-E 17mm f2.8 L lens
- Canon 35mm f1.4L Lens
- Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM
- Canon EF 85mm f1.2L Lens
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens
- Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens
- Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens
- Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
- Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash
Name three photography equipment you cannot live without and why (for day-to-day use, or for an event/job?)
- Canon TS-E f2.8 L lens
- Canon 35mm f1.4 L Lens
- Canon EF 85mm f1.2L Lens
The majority of my job requires me to shoot interior as well as lifestyle portraiture. Hence, I rely heavily on my 17mm TS-E f2.8 L Lens to get my perspective right, while the bokeh of the Canon 35 mm f1.4 L Lens and the Canon EF 85mm f1.2 L Lens is most ideal for my lifestyle portrait shots.
What have you observed about your experience with Canon products that really stood out to you?
Canon’s cameras like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II were super fast and reliable when I am shooting wildlife in Africa. Their telephoto lenses are also one of the best in the industry, and I can totally depend on them to get that close up photo of a lion or leopard. In addition, I really love the radio signal capability of the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flashes. In the past, most camera flashes are triggered off wirelessly via infrared rays but this can be a big problem if the sunlight is too strong and interferes with the signals. Now, I need not worry about not being able to trigger my camera flashes wirelessly when shooting in the great outdoors.
Could you share with us your technical workflow during post-production?
Usually, I will import the RAW file into Adobe Lightroom and make some general adjustments, such as enhancing details in the shadows and lowering highlights. In addition, I will adjust the contrast of the photo to make sure it is not too flat and more dimensional. Next, from within Adobe Lightroom, I will open the edited RAW file into Adobe Photoshop to do some fine-tuning, such as cloning or minor colour tweaking.
What other projects will you be involved in this year that we can look forward to?
Next year will be an exciting year for me, as I will be setting aside time to conduct several travel photo clinics to Japan and Bhutan. I would love to share how to capture the essence of the Japanese culture, such as the elusive geisha in Gion, Kyoto, through street photography.
For Bhutan, since shooting for the royal wedding of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, I’ve been fascinated by how the Bhutanese have maintained their traditional culture amidst modernisation. I am keen to document the transition of the youths and I am writing an ongoing article on Adobe Spark about these “Youths in Transition”. My article can be found here.
What other tips or advice are you able to give budding photographers out there?
Chase your dreams. Never think that it is so big that you cannot achieve. I am still chasing mine. Photography is never easy, but it is always satisfying when we put in the hard work and reap what we sow.
First published: Canon EOS World