“Kaodim has been a one-stop solution for people looking for vendors of different disciplines based on their desired budget. I have had very successful outcomes working with clients whom I still keep in touch with until today.” – Alexis Fam, professional photographer
Photo credit: NickNik Photography
You know you’re looking through the portfolio of a quality photographer when her images call out to you through their sharp composition, carefully calibrated angles and hauntingly beautiful emotions. Alexis Fam’s portfolio has all that, and more.
As a wedding, fashion and portrait photographer in Kuala Lumpur with years of experience and a riveting passion for the people she photographs, Alexis says that she loves the look on her subjects’ faces when they see themselves in pictures.
“I find that many people shy away from having their photographs taken unless it’s for special occasion so they have very little idea how beautiful and great they looked, so it gives me satisfaction knowing that my clients are happy with the way I’d captured their special moments,” she said. Her work is also featured on Bridestory.
Wedding photography is challenging enough, but through her lenses, Alexis never fails to document the beauty of the moment, especially fleeting ones that happen in a blink of an eye – or rather, in a quick click of the shutter. We had the privilege to chat with this talented photographer on her passion for the art, her advancement into wedding photography and how Kaodim has grown her business.
KAODIM: Hi Alexis! How has Kaodim helped grow your business?
I was looking for avenues to reach out to more potential clients, so out of curiosity I signed up as a vendor on Kaodim. I have quoted more than 20 jobs, and have had very successful outcomes working with clients whom I still keep in touch with until today.
Kaodim has been a one-stop solution for people looking for vendors of different disciplines based on their desired budget. The transparency of our portfolio and offer price also gives clients more information before making a decision to hire us. This translates to more meaningful discussions when I meet potential clients for the first time because we no longer have to discuss on pricings and budgets, but instead we can focus on the details of the photoshoot and how my photography style would best suit their needs.
KAODIM: How and when did you get started in photography? What camera gear did you start off with?
My earliest recollection of being interested in photographs and cameras was when I was 5. I loved looking at the photos my dad took of us as kids and I would play with his analogue film camera, but my real interest in picking up a camera only amplified when I moved to the USA to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
I remember taking long walks around the city with my camera in hand, taking photographs of the city folks, scenery and life on the streets, and I would share the photos on Facebook so family and friends back home could catch up on what I’d been experiencing abroad. I started off using a Nikon D5000 and the kit lens that came with it after working for a summer as a dishwasher operator!
“I’m always thinking of ways to play with angles, perspective and reflection to show that portraits can be unconventionally fun. When I first visited this location, I’d already formed an image in my mind to use the lake as a large mirror and creating an illusion where viewers will look twice to determine which part of the image is reality, and which one is their reflection.”
KAODIM: And what camera equipment do you currently use?
I’m using a Nikon D750, Nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime, Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 and lots of natural light!
KAODIM: How did you grow your wedding/portraiture photography skills?
It takes a lot of practise and continuous learning. I’m not a super technical person, but to me, concept, post-processing, and framing is very important. When I’m not working on commissioned shoots, I’d stage a shoot with some friends with shared interests to practise. I’ve done shoots in places I’ve never imagined I would, such as a lake and abandoned shophouses, to name a few. Another skill that is very important is post-processing. The style of your photographs will set you apart, so right from the start I’ve already established the kind of style that I associate with the most, and continue honing it.
KAODIM: What do you love most about photographing people?
I love their genuine emotions when they’re caught in the moment and the look on their faces when they see how they looked in the photo. I find that many people shy away from having their photographs taken unless it’s for special occasion and they have very little idea how beautiful and great they looked, so it gives me satisfaction knowing that my clients are happy with the way I’d captured their special moments.
KAODIM: We know how tough wedding photography can be. From your experience, what are some of the challenges you face as a wedding photographer and how do you deal with them?
- Taking care of my gears! Weddings are a time-consuming feat and put your gears through a lot of wear and tear. I always make sure to take good care of them so they’ll last longer.
- Fitness. We spend hours standing up, darting around venues and then followed by hours of post-processing. It’s important that we stay fit for the job.
- Digital storage is never enough, and probably will never be, considering I only shoot in RAW. One of the most important things with my line of work is storage backup. That’s the first thing I do after concluding a shoot, it’s better safe than sorry!
“I’m personally and emotionally invested in this wedding party because the bride and groom are both dear friends of mine, and I can only describe the reunion they bring about through their wedding day as epic, so when I was taking the group shots this particular scene just came into my mind and I had to recreate it. After positioning everyone, I told them “fierce, I want fierce”. There you have it, a film poster worthy shot.”
KAODIM: What is your secret to achieving such beautiful portraits and wedding photos?
There’s no secret, but these are the 3 golden rules I swear by:
- Practise a lot! Even when you don’t have a camera on you, use your imagination.
- Learn how to use photo editing softwares to enhance your work, like Photoshop, Lightroom, and VSCO.
- Constantly challenge yourself by photographing subjects that you don’t normally do. It helps sharpen your point of view, framing and creativity. For instance, I do a lot of portraits and actual day weddings, so sometimes I would deliberately extract myself out of that state of mind and go for landscapes and architecture.
KAODIM: Can you provide some photography tips on achieving the right angle, the best lighting, and the most natural facial expressions? What are some basic photography do’s and don’ts that you always abide by?
Aesthetics is subjective, so it’s always wise to run through with your subject if they have a preferred angle, otherwise, below are some of the tips that I highly recommend:
- Avoid unflattering angles like shooting from an extremely low angle. Instead, keep your angles level-headed with your subject, as this minimizes facial distortion.
- I do a lot of outdoor shoots, and I find that the best lighting is natural light, before 8 am in the morning and after 5 pm in the evening as it is diffused and warm.
- Shooting into the sun especially during dusk and dawn at the right angle creates a beautiful soft hue, which brings out the dreaminess of a portrait.
- If you must photograph under extreme sunlight like noon, always find a spot with shades to avoid harsh shadows.
- Getting your clients to smile naturally is simple. You need a steady finger and a sense of humor! I’m constantly talking during a portrait shoot, because I want to get my clients engaged and in the moment. Occasionally I’d throw in some jokes, and some of the best expressions happen mid-conversation.
“This was one of the photos from a lookbook shoot done I did for Rent A Dress, and it was my first time working with an entire team consisting of makeup and styling. It was key for us to showcase the couple in different settings wearing different styled outfits. To illustrate the different moods, I had to be very descriptive about the situation they’re in, instead of directing them on specific poses. I find that more effective than the latter.”
KAODIM: How do you make your subjects feel at ease in front of your camera?
Connecting with my clients on a personal level really helps because let’s face it, who wouldn’t be uncomfortable about a stranger shoving a camera in front of their face on the first day they meet? Before the actual day shoot, I always try to set up a pre-shoot consultation meeting to first get to know my clients on a personal level, followed by their expectations of the photographs. If your subject finds deliberate poses awkward, don’t make them do it. Always put their comfort and needs first, instead of fixating on the need to capture an award winning shot.
KAODIM: Any tips for amateur photographers who are looking to break into the wedding photography scene?
In the early stages of your career, you will feel that your work is never good enough. Five years later, you will still feel the same way, but that is fine, because photography should be an evolving art and the only way to move forward is by constantly challenging yourself and putting yourself out there. You don’t have to pick and choose a niche to photograph right away. I started off photographing scenery and still subjects, today I photograph weddings and travel stories. It’s no telling where your work will lead you, so just have an open mind and keep doing what you love.
Through our conversation with Alexis, we understand that there’s more to wedding photography that meets the eye. You don’t want an amateur shooting your wedding – you want a professional who’s experienced and confident enough to work with varying lighting conditions, large crowds, cultural settings and high pressure. We’ve learned a lot from Alexis, whose generous knowledge and experiences could greatly benefit many others who are keen on learning the ropes of wedding and portrait photography. Check out her impressive work at www.alexisfam.com.
To meet more photographers like Alexis, visit Kaodim to receive free customised quotes from them so you can compare prices, study their portfolios and read reviews from previous customers. We’ll connect you with our talented array of photographers for free! From weddings, events to food photography, our photographers cover it all!
written by Carissa Gan | photographs by Alexis Fam