“I got into nightlife photography six years ago. I was in the second semester of my first year at uni, and I wanted to practise more photography to escape the world of academics.
A friend who worked as a marketing exec at Zouk told me they were looking for photographers. Zouk had this trial system where new photographers can come onboard and try out for a few months, so I just went for it.
It was challenging at first, especially when it came to lighting, but nightlife photography is more than just the technical aspects. For me, the allure has always been the people and the music. I shoot because I love capturing the energy and ambience at a club or festival. I especially love big festivals – that’s where I really thrive.
I started Colossal Photos after a Steve Aoki gig in 2013. Management wanted to tag me in a picture I shot, but I didn’t see the point of tagging myself on Facebook or Instagram. That’s when I got the idea of putting together a collective.
If you enter the nightlife market as a newbie or an amateur, people tend to pay you less than what you deserve. I wanted to start a collective to protect these new photographers, so I asked Ungku, Zhiwei and Harald – who were also photographers with Zouk – to join me.
After we launched, Colossal grew very quickly. We have about 20 people on the team currently, and whenever someone new comes onboard, everyone gets a chance to mentor this person. Why? Well, I believe that keeping knowledge to yourself is not a good way to run a business or practise art.
Ungku, for example, has been doing nightlife for 11 years, and was my mentor when I first shot for Zouk. He was very selfless when it came to knowledge, and anything he knew, he taught me. I was really inspired by that, so we took it as our collective purpose to help other photographers out there.
My personal vision for Colossal is to provide as many opportunities as possible for creatives to practise their art as a career. When I started hiring people full-time, I saw and felt the satisfaction behind everything I was doing. It gives me a sense of purpose to see a guy who’s really passionate about the arts find his calling here.” – Afiq, 29
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