This Photographer Told Us How He Quit His Executive Job To Pursue His Hobby Full-Time

When your job is your hobby.

Do you have fun at work every day?

Lee Jeans is encouraging Malaysians to rediscover their workplace through a series of interviews with local entrepreneurs whose workplace is also their playground.

In conjunction of their Fall/Winter Collection 2017 launch, we speak to a local wedding photographer to find out about how he merges work and play at his job:

Meet Joe Zakaria, a photographer who specialises in "documentary wedding photography"

Joe is the founder of We Are The Joe Zakaria, a production company known for producing documentary-style wedding photographs.

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"Documentary wedding photography or wedding photojournalism is about capturing the flow of a wedding starting from preparation until the end," Joe explained.

Rather than concentrating on getting pretty backgrounds and the right framing, this type of photography focuses on capturing the emotions that are present during those priceless moments. To Joe, these are the things that make a picture beautiful. "Like the moment the parents let go of their daughter, the moment shared between the groom and the father of the bride during the nikah ceremony, the first dance, etc."

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It was a young photographers community page on MySpace that first got him interested in photography

Joe was working as a Project Executive back in 2006 when he stumbled upon a MySpace community page of young photographers.

"I started wondering how did they produce such beautiful photos. I've been trying to get the same quality with my compact point and shoot camera but failed. That is when I knew about DSLR camera," Joe recalled.

He even quit his job to be a junior photographer at a wedding photography company just to learn the basics of using a DSLR

"Back then, it was really hard to find a photography class. And you can't just Google it. It's not like nowadays." But Joe was so passionate about photography, he decided to give up his well-paying job to become a junior photographer at a wedding photography company. It didn't matter that it was a junior position, or that the pay wasn't as great - he just wanted to learn

It was a huge decision, and not an easy one to make. The toughest part for Joe was how to convince his parents about it. "For them, wedding photography is not a secure job. And for them, it seems like I have wasted years finishing my studies but ended up doing something that have nothing to do with it."

Despite the initial struggles, Joe never regretted it as it gave him the chance to explore new places and most importantly, taught him the "art of seeing"

When asked about the most important thing he learned during his days as a newbie photographer, Joe said it was the "art of seeing". Also called "photographer's eye", this art refers to a photographer's sense of awareness towards their surroundings and their ability to focus on a particular subject.

It's true that good camera lenses can help you capture top quality pictures, but nothing beats having a good eye. That is why every photographer's work is different from the other's as the photos they capture reflect the unique way they see the world. 

"Through this job, I also got the chance to travel around and go to places that I never thought of going if I'm not a photographer. I love my job!" he added. Besides having local assignments, he also had the chance to travel to Brunei, Indonesia, and even the United Arab Emirates for work. 

His workplace is like his playground as it allows him to be productive and have fun at the same time. It also helped give him creative ideas, such as experimenting with different shots and help him adapt in challenging environments.

Seeing all that he's achieved as a photographer, Joe's parents slowly began to understand his work and are now really proud of him. He told us, "They are happy with what I'm doing right now. As long you are sincere and committed in what you are doing, with God's will and your parents blessing, you will gain what you are looking for."

The best part was that it was this job that led him to his wife

To Joe, meeting his wife is the highlight of his career ever since he pursued photography full-time in 2006. "I was the photographer for the Merdeka celebration in Stadium Negara and she was the choreographer for the human flag. That was nine years ago. Now, we've been married for four years and I'm still a wedding photographer and videographer."

We asked Joe what it takes to be a successful photographer. Here's his advice:

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1. Love your work
"You need to love your work. Once you love your work and you're confident with it, then other people will recognise it too."

2. Try new things
"Don't be scared to try new things. It might not be wedding photography; it might be fashion, portrait, or landscape. Try all if you can and you will find what you love."

3. Experience
"Don't just Google for the answer because a person's experience might teach you a lot of things."

And most importantly, enjoy the experience of photography

"All you need to do to get a good photo is to point, aim, and shoot. Always remember that it's not the camera but the person behind the camera who has what it takes to produce a good photo," said Joe. 

Joe's personal take on style is just like his views on work - to always try new things

Image via Lee Jeans

While he prefers slim fit jeans, Joe is open to trying new styles when it comes to fashion. He said, "As long as it fits me nicely, I'll definitely get it. For me, it doesn't matter what kind of jeans you are wearing, the most important thing is that it has to be you carrying the jeans, not the other way around."

Image via Lee Jeans

Lee Jeans just launched their new 101+ line and an improved Urban Riders collection

Image via Lee Jeans

Work is not always boring - it can be fun as well. These days, most of us have the freedom to merge work with our hobbies. Following this trend, Lee Jeans introduced the Rediscover Worklife campaign for the launch of the new 101+ line and the improved Urban Riders collection.

The 101+ line is the re-imagination of Lee Jeans' Classic 101 Blue Label. The classic jeans now has a more modern take, with doughnut buttons, original leather tear-off label, copper rivets, as well as the new 101+ embroidery. 

To allow for freedom of movement, the Urban Riders collection has also gone through some re-innovation and now features an exciting new 3D fit. Its signature casual design has been improved to incorporate a hint of professionalism. 

Image via Lee Jeans

Rediscover your worklife with Lee Jeans here

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