The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Anna Sian

Photographer: Anna Sian

Instagram: @annamal

Location: Brooklyn, NYC!

Style: To be honest, I’m still trying to define my style. Photography has always been a passion of mine but I’ve been working in marketing for over 6 years, so it’s tough to carve out the time to focus on shooting in one particular style – but I know what speaks to me when I see it. It seems that those moments when I feel the urge to pull out my camera tend to have some similarities in style, color, composition, etc.

I love shooting people. I shoot a lot of landscapes and street shots when I travel because I’m inspired by the new things I see, but I think I have the most fun running around my own city and capturing people in quiet or weird moments. Plus, when it comes to landscapes and city views, tons of photographers have the same postcard shot, but with people, you’re likely the only one who’s going to ever catch that exact frame.

Whenever I have a commissioned project, I pretty much always shoot with my Canon 5D Mark III with a few lenses. Depending on the situation, I'll have these types of things on deck: external flashes, a reflector, extra batteries, lots of memory cards.  It’s a lot to carry around, but it’s necessary to make sure you have your bases covered as far as resolution, optics, focal length, and lighting when you’re on the job.

When I’m just shooting on my own I’ll probably just grab the 5D and Sigma and head out. Once in a while, I shoot 35mm film on a Canon AE-1 that I inherited from a family friend. And I’ve recently borrowed a Fuji XTI and a Sony A7S that were both really fun and more compact than the Canon. My next purchase is definitely going to be a mirrorless Sony.

And then, of course, the iPhone camera is actually pretty terrific if you have enough daylight. It’s great because it’s there when you need it.

Favorite lenses and why?
For my Canon, the Sigma 35mm f1.4 is one of my favorite lenses right now. It’s cheaper than the Canon L Series lenses but I think it's just as sharp if not sharper, and the 35mm is perfect for everyday street and travel shooting. To give you some more frame of reference, the focal length on your iPhone is about 30mm. 50mm is about the same focal length as what your eye sees. I also shoot with a 50mm f1.2 which is great for portraits and low light (the f1.2 refers to the lens’ aperture setting which lets in the most light, the lower the number, the faster the lens). And I have a 24-70mm f2.8 which is is a versatile lens and works great for events.

“Stop being afraid to share a picture you're proud of because you think it won't get a ton of 'likes.'”

Filter or nah? I’m a little biased I suppose, but I love VSCO’s presets... For the record I used them a ton before I started working there!  My favorites on VSCO Cam are F2, C1-C3, HB1-2, E3, & 06. But you gotta try them all and see which ones work best in different situations, kinda like Pokemons haha.

What is one piece of gear/accessory besides your camera and lenses that you can't live without?
An extra battery just in case. That’s the worst feeling in the world when your camera dies and you’re stuck carrying some heavy equipment that doesn’t work. I also like a unique camera strap that expresses your personality.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?
Tough one! Off the top of my head, William Eggleston, Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, Rinko Kawauchi, and there are so many other legends. Some of the photographers from VSCO’s Artist Inititative have been really inspiring me lately, like Yumna Al-Arashi and Mustafa Abdulaziz. And friends from the Street Dreams crew, and Carmen Chan obviously.

What is your most memorable photoshoot? 
My father is an avid photographer who converted our NYC apartment bathroom into a makeshift darkroom when I was around 10 or so. I think that’s when I first started taking it seriously. One of my favorite moments was getting to shoot Victor Cruz in an empty Giants stadium. Or the time I was on one of those crane lift things with the artist JR and his crew in the middle of the night and was able to document one of their rooftop wheat pastings.

How did you get into photography? Classes, mentors or self-taught?
A mixture of all three. Took some classes in school and then later on at the International Center of Photography. My father taught me a lot, as well as a family friend photographer who did some workshops with me in my youth. I’ve been lucky to get to work with a lot of amazing photographers through Staple and VSCO. The rest I just fill in on my own through research and trial and error.

Tell us three photography tips.
1) Stop being afraid to share a picture you're proud of because you think it won't get a ton of 'likes'.

2) Shoot film once in a while, even if it means buying a cheap instant camera. It will force you to be mindful of each shot, to wait for the right moment.

3) Consistency. This is a tip I’ve been trying to stick to myself. Think of a new project idea and try to take 10 great photos in the same theme. And then do it again with a different theme. It’s a great way to tell stories, get your message across and develop your unique visual identity.

"Kids these days care a lot about how others perceive them and not enough about collecting the right kinds of experiences and taking on challenges that help develop an identity. Slow it down, unplug for a bit, learn through observation and practice."

Finish the sentence...
If I weren’t afraid I would... Embark on my own to a dangerous place if it meant documenting something important.

I wouldn't be where I am today if... I didn’t take risks and go with my gut instincts.

I've been listening to... Old school hip hop and r&b, new school future beats and a whole lot of jazz.

Kids these days... Care a lot about how others perceive them and not enough about collecting the right kinds of experiences and taking on challenges that help develop an identity. Slow it down, unplug for a bit, learn through observation and practice.

I look and feel my best when... I'm well rested, eating right and hitting the gym regularly!

When no one is looking I... Sneak a snack of whatever I'm cooking before it makes it to the plate.

Traveling... Is all I would do if I had an endless supply of money and time.

I respect... People who don’t need attention or validation to continue to do what they love.

Tag a friend to feature and ask them a question:
KangHee Kim, @tinycactus. What are the first 5 crucial steps in your editing flow? Be specific.

KangHee Kim answered: I do not really have steps in my editing flow. I always listen to music while editing photos, and make sure to pick the appropriate songs which varies depending on the photos or my mood. I try my best to produce images with my camera  to minimize the editing process. I always make sure to have colors look the way I want them to be. I sometimes digital manipulate the photos but that's the whole different process. I often find myself staring at the images for a long time, and I make sure to take a break and look at it for the last time with freshened eyes.