5 years ago, I got the chance to meet Alvin Ng, a photographer, humble about his works and generous with his knowledge.

I’ve always had the privilege of travelling rather frequently — with my family when I was younger, and with friends in recent years. I remember the first camera that I got in 2010; it was a Sony alpha 35. Just that year, my family made plans to visit Switzerland. That was the first time I set out on a personal mission to document my travels. Well, who knew, once I started, there was no way I could stop. My passion for travel photography grew fiercely; every photo I snapped fed my desire to document the world as I travelled.

Sunset from Bukhansan Baegundae peak
Sunset from Bukhansan Baegundae peak. Photo credit: @rachelwongggg

When I first met Alvin, it didn’t take me long to notice, that he had an impeccable eye for lights, shadows and angles. More respectably, Alvin has been consistently honing his skills in photography while being a full-time student at Lasalle College of the Arts.

As a student myself, I decided to have a little chat with him to find out more about him and how he does it.

Alvin Ng @alvinnzh
Alvin Ng. Photo credit: @misterkitt

As a travel photographer, it’s imperative to me not to be a tourist. I want to see, understand and appreciate the way of life of its people, their culture; and the only way to truly understand is to have a relationship with its people and landscapes.

1.     You’re a design communication student at Lasalle College of the Arts. So how did you first grow your interest in photography?

My interest in photography goes back to my younger days in Temasek Polytechnic; but it was only after NS when I took it very seriously.

2.     Were you always into travel photography?

Not exactly, I just love taking photographs; be it strangers, friends, and nature landscapes. So I followed that path long ago, and it has led me to travel photography, which I must say I’m very fortunate to be in.

Jomblang Cave in Indonesia
Jomblang Cave, Indonesia. Photo credit: @alvinnzh

3.     You’re one of the up and rising young photographers in Singapore! Tell us more about your interest in travel photography.

Thank you! Well, personally, what attracts me are nature landscapes and the people of the foreign land.

I usually travel with friends, though I’m in the process of planning my solo trip. I love to get lost — get a map, your buddies and literally, get lost. This might ring a lot of alarm bells; but to me, getting lost in a foreign country is perhaps the best way for me to understand the place I’m in, the people and developing a relationship with my surroundings.

Portrait of old man in India
Lucknow, India. Photo credit: @alvinnzh

4.     As a full time student juggling school commitments, does it hinder your progress in photography? How do you try to improve yourself in photography? 

Not at all. I always believe that if you truly love what you are doing, there will be always be time for it. It’s all about time management. Say for example, my work trip to Vietnam and Myanmar actually happened during my school semester. So I told my lecturers in advance and worked like crazy after my trip to make up for time lost. It’s a lot of hard work, and discipline is paramount, but we have to do what we have to do! Any pockets of free time will be important for catching up with school work!

And yes, I will definitely make sure to travel somewhere during my school holidays. Anywhere. 

As for improving my photography, I restrict myself in order to improve. I ask myself questions like ‘why do I want to take this photo?’ when I want to photograph something. It’s the small things like these that allows me to constantly change my approaches in photography.

5.     What advice would you give to the younger generation who aspire to make a career out of photography?

I must admit I have an elitist point of view in terms of a photography career. I believe that, yes in the world of the digital age, anyone can take a photograph; but only very few are successful in taking good ones.

That being said, I also believe that passion drives the learning process; Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same thing applies to photography; it must be nurtured and tested for a very long time to be decent in it.

Lastly, it is imperative to know that social media, especially Instagram, is not a good platform to base one’s inspirations on, and neither should we take photographs for the sake of those apps. Photography does not revolve around those apps, which are used for very superficial purposes nowadays. Photography has deeper roots, and to make a career in photography is to have a deep intimate understanding of photography itself.

Ancient landscape of Bagan, Myanmar
Ancient landscape of Bagan, Myanmar. Photo credit: @alvinnzh

6.     Can you share with us the most interesting/memorable experience that you had as a travel photographer?

Yes, I can never forget the moment when I was up in a hot air balloon over the ancient landscape of Bagan, Myanmar. The experience was indescribable and perhaps the best thing I’ve experienced to date. 

7.     Who/what is your one source of inspiration in photography?

 Mostly the music I listen to, though I love the works of Garry Winogrand and Rog Walker. 

Portrait shot of little girl
Lucknow, India. Photo credit: @alvinnzh

8.     What do you think is the most important thing as a travel photographer?

As a travel photographer, it’s imperative to me not to be a tourist. I want to see, understand and appreciate the way of life of its people, their culture; and the only way to truly understand is to have a relationship with its people and landscapes. 

9.  Any life motto or words that you live by?

“To live, to understand, and to appreciate.” This phrase pretty much sums it up! 


Are you inspired to up your travel photography yet? Cause I definitely am! This interview definitely came just in time for our Japan trip. If you like what you see so far, check out more of Alvin’s works at @alvinnzh!

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A photo posted by Alvin Ng (@alvinnzh) on

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