Happier Ever After

Is it because he is that bad and only deserved that paltry sum? Or is it because he is cheap, that’s why he was hired?

Bad photoshopping; dubious award being awarded to dubious works; fight over one’s copyright; debate over one’s idea being misappropriated; ‘incompetent’ wedding photographer ruining a wedding.

Name it, and we have it.

It is becoming quite clear to me that every week, at least one Singaporean photographer must get into trouble.

This is bad because my friends and I have been printing a book this week and nobody is paying attention to us, the apparently-better-photographers;)

First, let’s talk about my ‘colleagues’ in trouble.

Does Mr Goh Chung Siew deserve all the whackings in cyberspace? My honest opinion: not really lah 🙂

I am not saying that because his pictures are very good and that the couple – Miss Jaclyn Ying and Mr Kelvin Tang – has no ground to complain.

By most standards that I am more comfortable with, I would say they’re mostly ‘below par’ lah.

But that’s just my personal opinion and I am in no way the authority.

Let’s for a change look at how the couple and the photographer have handled the situation.
I am of the opinion that all things being equal, the couple took it VERY WELL and is reasonable. I read their posts several times and they do not appear to be looking for anything more than some spiritual support, some words from the mass to say that ‘we feel your pain’.

(Full disclosure: I have tried to contact them thru a former student who was at the wedding for a real interview but he recommended waiting for a bit, for the issue to quiet down first.)

Mr Goh, in my opinion, deserves a lot of accolades for just coming forward to admit his shortcomings. Although he was a little defensive in the beginning, I think he is exceedingly brave.

There are many people who called him stupid names and I think they are really uncalled for. Many feel that he is really an idiot for outing himself and I really wonder if our values have shifted so much. Why are we punishing someone for owning up?

Let’s think about it, with so many expert CSIs running around, how long would it take before someone dug him out? And then what? The online community gets to slam him for being a coward for hiding?

Without reading too much into it, I am happy that at least there are small groups of people who recognized that his honesty should be heralded and not chided.

In comparison, this recent episode seems to be heading to a possible nice ending. And I certainly hope so.

Four years ago, I remember another young wedding photographer being lynched in public. The altercation then was much much worse. I remember the aggrieved couple threatening to sue and demanding that the photographer pays for the whole wedding because he had ruined it, in their opinion. Now that’s what I call a real bully.

Do many people remember that incident? I bet not because nobody really cares. (Mr Goh, so don’t worry, you will be forgotten soon hor)

I remember that incident vividly because I met with that photographer and went through all his outtakes on a hot Sunday afternoon.

At the end of the ‘review’, I assured him that he had nothing to fear and should the couple really sued, I would rally my friends to get him legal help.

I did however advise him not to pursue wedding photography because being meek and not too articulate, he would probably get into similar trouble again.

Unfortunately, my attempt to get two other photographers to stand with me to ‘endorse’ the guy failed. Both told me, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Fortunately, the threat to sue and demand for compensation went away and I assume everyone is living happily ever after now.

Coming back to Mr Goh, I think many people have asked, and rightly so, “Why is he just paid $350 for 10 hours?”

Is it because he is that bad and only deserved that paltry sum? Or is it because he is cheap, that’s why he was hired?

Thirty-five years ago, when I did my first wedding as a teenager, I was paid about $200 and I wasn’t even as good as Mr Goh. So go figure.

But let’s not get ourselves into this ‘I pity him’ mode. I don’t think he is the sort of man who wants our sympathy. All he wants is to make a decent living and if he didn’t deliver something good enough the first time, he will try harder and no extra money is needed to get him to do that.

And let’s not tell the couple that they should keep quiet because they ‘paid so little’.

The reality is, even if Mr Goh has pride, he certainly lacks certain skills in my opinion. But he can and will get better because he has pride.

In all fairness, I think this saga has also brought on some nice surprises.

At least one friend told me he honestly likes Mr Goh’s photos because they are funny, unpretentious and different from the ‘normal’. Another just text me after reading this note to say that she thought those pictures are intentionally that way.

I tried that chain of thought with my girlfriend but she disagreed. She thinks they are not great.
So that’s a sample size of three. If I were to ask 2000 people, I am pretty sure the findings won’t be 1998:2. So there is hope.

Hypothetically, if some grand masters of photography come out and call Mr Goh a photo genius, the whole situation will be quite different now. (I would have tried but I have been told repeatedly that my Hasselblad Masters title expired long ago liao so I no power liao.)

Moving forward, I would like to think that the couple is already satisfied that justice has been served.

I would also like to believe that their eternal happiness is not dependent on Mr Goh’s images. On the contrary, they seem to have done one great thing together as a couple – to laugh it off.
Mr Goh, if you are reading this, I am happy to help you look through all the images if you would like but ask the couple for their permission first ok?

I can’t guarantee anything other than some honest opinions and I promise I won’t force you to buy anything from me because I have nothing to sell.

And may we all live happily ever after.

Huat ah!!!