How can we define a good photographer and the really good one’s? that’s usually come out from beginner, especially those who’s starting to be or interested with photo worlds. In depth of their thinking that distinguishes the two. They are
really nice not only to produce good images, but also has
enlightened thought for those who hear it. While
a good chance they might be able to produce good images
but does not have an extraordinary thought.
By coincidence on this occasion we found Mikael Wardhana,
an Indonesian photographer who lives in Australia. For us, Mikael Wardhana meets all the criteria for
a really good photographer. Because in addition to producing
good photograph, he also has
open our mindset. Here’s
Our conversation with him.
What brought you to do photography?
Could you share with us
a little bit of your background
My passion for the creative world started
when I was very young. Of course, at
that time, I didn’t know anything about
photography. Our family had one camera
and it was this beautiful vintage
Voightlander. At the age of about 4, I
broke that camera into small pieces.
Obviously after that I was grounded;
not allowed to touch another camera
(hahahaha), at least not until I was old
enough to learn.
I liked drawing a lot when I was
younger and in particular, drawing
female figure. I know most kids love to
draw, however I was much more obsessed
with it than the other kids were.
I hardly paid any attention in class; I
just drew and drew and drew. Which
obviously got me into trouble many
times with the teachers. (hahahaha).
So, suffice to say I have always loved
and admired the female figure since an
My dad started teaching me how
to use a camera correctly when I
was about ten. It was a 1978 Canon
Rangefinder. This time I didn’t break it
into pieces and I started learning what
aperture was and what shutter speed
was, etc. But unfortunately, the cost of
buying films and developing them was
too expensive and so I had to stop.
In 2003, I finally bought my first camera.
It was this plastic low-end 35mm
SLR but it was enough to make me
feel over-the-moon. I bought a bunch
of expired films and soon after that I
couldn’t stop snapping almost anything
and everything. But at that time
I didn’t know that it was a start of a
brand new exciting journey in my life.
How did you learn photography?
Did you have a formal education
Yes, I decided to take the full plunge
into photography in 2006 and I completed
a ‘Bachelor of Art in Photography’
degree at RMIT University, Australia.
It was here that I went from being
a “weekend warrior” to a professional
What is it about fashion photography
that fascinates you?
In one word, women.
As I’ve explained before, since I was
very young I have always been attracted
to women and admired their beauty
and complexity. So I guess I’m doing
fashion photography because it is what
my personality responds to.
Fashion photography is the closest
sibling to movie making. This is one
genre of photography where you can
go pretty crazy with your ideas. One
thing that fashion photography is not
about, is documenting reality. Fashion
photography is never about reality.
It is about fantasy and story telling.
Very much like building a script for a
You build your concept, create the
characters and put them into a set, and
then you direct the shoot. So you are
creating images – not documenting
reality. And that’s what fashion photography
is all about.
And that is exactly why I love fashion
photography; the dynamic nature of
it. There is always something new for
every photo shoot. Developing new
concepts, going to new places, new
challenges and meeting new and
exciting people. I just can’t ask for any
Fashion photography seems to
be the choice of many young
photographers nowadays. Could
you share some thoughts on this?
There are many reasons for this I think.
There is a general perception that
fashion photography is the “coolest”
genre in photography. People think
that being a fashion photographer is
so glamorous and you get to hang out
with beautiful girls all the time.
When you tell people that you are a still
life photographer for example, they will
respond “ahhhh okay” (with a bland
looking expression) but if you say
that you are a fashion photographer,
suddenly people’s reactions change to
“wow”. I think this perception is really
distorted because I believe fashion
photography is no more or less difficult
compared to any other genre. But I will
let you have your own opinion on that.
The problem now is that there are so
many other “fashion photographers”
out there who are doing it for the
wrong reasons. What they are doing is
actually very degrading. They just want
to shoot partially or fully nude girls and
basically take advantage of them.
Like what I mentioned before,
there are a lot more fashion photographers
out there nowadays.
Do you think in general their
quality is growing as fast as their
I don’t believe I am in a position to generalize
and judge the quality of other
young fashion photographers out
there. But just like anything else, there
is a hierarchy that goes like a pyramid.
The quality photographers become
fewer and fewer as it gets closer to the
When you are shooting fashion,
what are your goals? What do
you want to achieve and why?
It depends on the project, I suppose.
But in general, a successful shoot for
me is when every component of the
shoot falls right into place. They have
to feel right and “believable”, not forced
nor over-the-top. It has to have this
feeling of elegance.
First the concept has to be striking, the
photography technique used has to
be appropriate for the concept (more
complicated doesn’t mean its going to
be better), the styling has to be great,
makeup has to be neat and flawless,
and the model has to make the audience
believe that she is the character
we are trying to portray.
After the shoot, my team and myself
will look closely at the images. If they
strike us, it means we have exceeded
our own expectation. And hence, it is
successful. So we use a lot of “feeling”
here. After all, it’s not something we
And obviously, a successful shoot also
means it has to exceed the client’s
Tell us what is the most difficult
part you normally encounter
when conducting a fashion shoot?
Being a fashion photographer is like
being a captain of a ship with a large
crew. It is a big responsibility to carry.
There are a lot of decisions to make
that will eventually determine the success
of the photo shoot.
I am faced with various options and I
have to make decisions all throughout
the process. Whether it is in the
pre-production stage, when shooting,
or when post-producing the images.
And when a huge amount of money is
at stake, making a wrong decision can
be disastrous. And fashion shoots are
almost always very expensive to run.
So failure is really not an option. The
pressure is high.
So I guess the most difficult part of
being a fashion photographer is to be
a Captain who can drive the team to
success every time under any circumstance;
even when things are going
against you. And have you heard the
saying “You are only as good as your
Check out the next part of this discussion.