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Digital nomads, by definition, are those whose careers are location-independent and use technology to perform their job.

Today, this term applies to a good many of us: we’ve all been working from our laptops and desktops at home due to the pandemic. Yet, photographers like Bryan van der Beek have always resonated with this label.

This time, we’ve teamed up with Huawei and Bryan to have a chat about his career as a photographer and how having the right tech accessories complements his lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

(Image credit: Bryan van der Beek)

LSA: Tell us about yourself and how you got into photography. 

B: I went to Indiana University in the USA to get my degree in Journalism. The ironic thing was that, as a kid, I used to love to look at copies of National Geographic, but I had no clue as to how to take photos. I figured that if I became a writer, I would be able to follow the photographers to those cool places and to see and experience the things they did. Little was I to know that after having to take a foundation journalism class in Visual Journalism (photography, videography and design), I’d get hooked on the photography part and have since continued with that as a career.

LSA: Being a photographer is considered an ‘unconventional’ career path in Singapore — have you faced any struggles whilst pursuing your passion?

B: I was lucky to have supportive parents that let me pursue my passion. My first career was as a photojournalist, starting at newspapers in the USA, then at the Straits Times in Singapore.

Yet, after spending more than a decade in that industry and seeing the decline of print publication and editorial photography, I decided to take the same skills that served me well there to the commercial realm. I’ve been very fortunate to have made a name for myself in the local press, which allowed me a smooth transition to commercial work.

LSA: What makes a good photograph?

B: There are a few elements that make a good photo, and most photographers will agree that an image needs to be striking and have good composition and visual elements. However, for me, a good moment, emotion, or reaction is what makes a good photograph great.

For me, I also like photographs that make me feel like I am in the picture, a fly on the wall watching things unfold, instead of a photograph taken from further away which makes me feel like an onlooker trying to get a glimpse of what is happening.

Mandala Airlines Flight 091 crash in Medan in on 5 Sept 2005 (Image credit: Bryan van der Beek)

LSA: What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve covered?

Where do I start? The Boxing Day Tsunami and aftermath (I covered Sri Lanka, The Maldives and South India) was a difficult and extremely humbling assignment to cover, as was covering demonstrations all over the world.

One of the things that keep me grounded is continually treating each and every assignment as something special. What may seem a normal daily assignment to me, is probably the highlight of someone else’s life, and should be treated as such!

LSA: What advice would you give to an amateur photographer looking to turn their passion into a full-time profession? Do they need fancy equipment?

B: Equipment is important but not the most important thing. I think they need to realize that it is not an easy profession to break into, and that there are already a lot of very talented photographers already in the business.

However, having a good attitude, being hardworking, and paying your dues go a long way in this business. They also need to find a way to differentiate their work from the other photographers out there, to project their own voices and vision. 

LSA: As a photographer, you have to be constantly on the go — what are some essentials you carry around with you when you head out to shoot?

B: While I almost always have a camera with me, be it a mirrorless set-up or even a point-and-shoot, I find myself gravitating to mobile phones for the day-to-day things. The image quality of phone cameras have improved to surpass many of the early professional digital cameras, and the technology will only improve.

(Image credit: Bryan van der Beek)

So a good, versatile phone camera (I currently tote about a Huawei P40 Pro+) will allow you to be able to get a quality image when you need one. An unexpected upside of a mobile phone camera is the fact that they are ubiquitous to the point of being invisible which is a great plus point for me.

LSA: After having a go with the Huawei Matebook X Pro, what are some of the features that stand out to you?

B: I am amazed at how small, yet well built it is! It’s perfect for editing editorial assignments which don’t require the brute force processing of commercial files! The best part for me, however, would be how easily it integrates with my P40Pro+ to transfer files and photos. It takes a traditionally messy affair and turns it into something seamless.

The battery also seems to go on and on, which is great when you want to travel as light as possible on assignments and want to leave the charger at home to minimize weight.

The HUAWEI MateBook X Pro retails at S$2,698 available at all Huawei Concept Stores, official online stores in Lazada and Shopee as well as Challenger (Hachi.tech) and Courts.

For more information about the HUAWEI MateBook X Pro, head to the official website here.

Jocelyn Tan
Senior Writer
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer who's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.