We are excited to share our conversation with community member and contest winner Aminah Othman, ajoth on ViewBug. "I have been a big photographer enthusiast since I was a kid. I am the keeper of memories in my family whether it be photographs or videos. Photography is important to everyone whether it be for creating memories or for expressing yourself. My passion for photography took over when I moved to Korea in 2012. I found myself really loving street photography. Wanting to improve other styles, I came upon a photography course taught by Michael Hurt and quickly signed up. This is where I fell in love with portraits, fashion, and studio photography."

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, how do you describe your photography style?

Hi! My name is Aminah and I am 31 years old. I’m originally from Chicago, Illinois, but I recently moved to Tacoma, Washington after living in South Korea for six years. I think that’s actually where my style comes from. I would say I’m still trying to find my style, but I learned a lot from my photography mentor, Michael Hurt, while living there. The streets and fashion in Korea are unlike a lot of places so even though I’m back in the states, I still try to bring a lot of the Korean style into my photos.

2. In one sentence what has photography done for you in your life?

Believe it or not, being a photographer and hiding behind the lens has enabled me to come out of my shell a bit more.

3. When did you start taking photos and what inspired you to get started?

I found an old album of my parents in Paris when they were in their 20s. It opened a whole new world for me. I think seeing them when they were young made me realize how big of a deal capturing memories were. I wanted my kids to find an old album of me so I started taking more photos of my family and then it exploded from there.

4. What has been your favorite shoot and why? 

I would say my favorite shoot was Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2018. I don’t know if that counts, but it’s amazing and I truly, 100%, without a doubt think every portrait photographer should go to a fashion week. If you can, go to Seoul Fashion Week. I can’t even explain the amount of people. Seoul is a city very much based on fashion and all that comes out during fashion week. It’s a great place if you’re starting out because there are TONS of people waiting to get photographed. You have endless subjects and everyone is so happy to be photographed. It’s just a great experience.

5. Do you remember a difficult photo shoot session? What happened?

Yes! Oh my gosh. I have two terrible shoots that I cringe when I think about. One of them actually had pretty good photos come out of it, the other is just all around terrible. My photography mentor was shooting performances at a night club in Korea and he asked me to assist him. I had never in my life taken photos in a night club. The lighting and movement was just something I was so unfamiliar with. Being excited and dumb, I agreed and did like no research on it. I wish I had because I was miserable. I had a great view and tried my best, but I just kept trying for that perfect clean shot where I wish I had just taken what I thought would look good. The one great thing that came from that experience is that I can’t wait to try it again.

6. What do you carry in your camera bag?

I am still using my Canon Rebel T2i. This thing has been with me for like 10 years now. I almost always have my 50mm lens on it. It’s still my favorite lens to use. Depending on what I’m shooting, I usually try to bring my Canon Speedlite 430EXII as well. And always an extra pair of batteries.

7. Do you have a favorite location and time of the day to shoot?

I don’t think I do. Every location and time of day has its own great points. I will say that one of my favorites is shooting Seoul Fashion week just before and during golden hour. The light is amazing. I am learning the landscape in Washington is also amazing.

8. Can you share three tips with your fellow photographers?

I would say to always continue taking classes. Even free ones online. The amount of inspiration, knowledge and new ideas I get from other photographers is incomparable. Second, collaborate. I never realized the benefit of working with someone else, especially someone with a different style than yours. You learn new things and I mean honestly, it’s really fun! And lastly, I don’t know if this is so much a tip, as it is a small boost of confidence. I used to draw a lot when I was younger and I stopped because I realized there were people out there that were so much better than me. I started to feel the same way about photography when someone told me something that changed my perspective on that mentality. They told me that everyone has their own style of art, you may think another person is better, but someone is going to come along and love your style thinking your style is better than theirs.

9. Please share one of your favorite photos with us with a short tutorial: 

I took this photo while living in South Korea. It’s basically in my living room where I made a small studio and would usually use my nephew to take photos. I think it was probably in the afternoon. I would always use my studio lights for my nephew. At the time I had a Fomex E400 studio light with a rectangular softbox.  Other than my studio light and softbox, I had like a really cheap backdrop cloth that I hung so I could hide my gross yellow wallpaper. I also used my Rebel T2i and at that time I think I had a 28-105mm zoom lens.

It was a random day where my sister and I were too tired to entertain my nephew so I gave him a pair of sunglasses to play with. Right away he put them on and started laughing because everything was dark so my sister and I looked at each other and I grabbed my camera. I usually make a lot of small tweaks to my photos, even when I don’t want to edit much. Post-processing for me is sometimes just as fun as the actual photographing so I like to play around with photos. For this one though, I actually didn’t do much other than making it black and white.

10. Please share some thoughts on your ViewBug experience as a photographer!

ViewBug is honestly such a great place! I’ve gotten so many nice messages and congratulations. I think community is so important for photography. It gives us a place to learn, work together, and try new things. I love the contests because it gives us a challenge and allows us to try new photography styles we may have never thought to try. I mean, I am always behind the camera so the fact that I won a self-portrait contest still kind of makes me laugh. But ViewBug gave me a place to try something new.