"You're one of the most inspiring travel, street and portrait photographer that I've ever met. It's such an honor to meet you!"
~ Allan T. (Agora Images)
Hi, my name is Andrew Suryono. I'm an international award winning photographer and a photography coach. My specialization is in travel, street and portrait photography.
I spend my time doing interesting assignments from global clients, exhibiting my works in various international galleries and sharing my photography knowledge through live workshops and classes.
If you want to get to know more about me and how I started in photography, feel free to read my story below.
A Humble Beginning
When people saw my works and accomplishments, they will immediately think that I already planned out my photography career years before.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Allow me to tell you the story of my humble beginning in photography.
I often call myself the "accidental photographer" since I never set out to become a professional photographer.
It all started when I wanted to take better product photos for my online listings. When I was a student in the US and was in need for extra money, I usually look for things that I can sell online in garage sale or flea market. In general, if you spend the time to closely look, you can find great items at a great price that you can sell for good profits.
If you're a student reading this page, there you go. I just gave you my secret to earning extra income while studying in college. But read on, it will get better.
I noticed that the same item can sell differently online just because one has a more professional looking photo (you can test this claim by going through popular online store and see the sale history for 1 particular item).
One look that I was very keen to get is soft light with clean white background. This kind of look makes the product look very professional and stand out from the crowd. This is a good thing because it will attract more buyers and they will have more confidence in your product. Below is a sample photo of the look that I'm talking about.
The above item is a very rare, cute Sony a7Rii miniature USB collectibles that I won in a photo contest. And no, this item is not for sale, just for illustration purposes only.
In order to get the above effect, you'll need first and foremost a softbox, a tripod and a camera.
The softbox came with a very straightforward and user friendly instruction. Set your camera for custom white balance, increase exposure by +1, mount it on a tripod and shoot.
CLICK! Just from there, I got hooked into the photography process. I was curious to learn everything that I can about camera, lenses, white balance, exposure compensation, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and the list goes on and on.
As my curiosity grew I wanted to explore photographing other subject as well. I started taking pictures for my families, experimenting with landscapes, places, streets, macro... basically I'm the crazy guy running around with a camera in my family!
On Becoming a Travel Photographer
If you personally know me, you know that I'm a dynamic person. I can spend some time to get good in a particular skill like product photography, but I can't stand photographing products after products, day after day.
In fact, I can't stand photographing the same subject for a long period of time. I'd go crazy if you tell me to only do portrait photography for 1 month.
This is in contrast to what a lot of professional photographers out there tells you to do: "You need to specialize in one particular thing to shoot." This advice can't and won't apply to a person like me.
I realized from an early age that specializing in one thing is not my specialty (no pun intended). Hats off to those who have the passion and dedication to stick with just one thing.
For me personally, I like to explore different subject, combine and infuse different technique and style that I learned to create my own unique style.
For instance, my most famous photograph, "Orangutan in The Rain" below can be seen as a combination of Wildlife and Sports Photography. The Orangutan still gives out a cute expression and a fast shutter speed, usually used in sports photography froze the rain.
My love for travel begins soon after I got pretty good in using my camera. I always dream of visiting exotic places, meet new people, learn new culture and go home with beautiful photographs that can inspire other people to do the same.
This deep desire to explore and learn have led me to travel to numerous countries and I consider myself fortunate to be able to travel to more than 10 different countries at a relatively young age.
For me, travel photography has its own unique set of challenges. You need to be good in photographing a lot of subjects: landscape, street, environmental portraits, food, cityscape... basically everything!
The more diverse your photography skills are, the better your travel photos will look. On top of that, you need to arrange and document the scene in a way that can inspire people to want to visit the place that you've been to. This is a challenge that I always love to tackle.
I took the above photograph at Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls look magnificent in daylight but who knew they have this kind of look at night? Carefully planning and researching your location while being open to everything can leads to amazing results.
If you want to get into travel photography and need some photo inspiration, feel free to browse my travel photography gallery. There are lots of photographs there that can open your eyes to the wonder of the worlds.
On Street Photography and Portraiture
Remember I told you I need diversity in what I do?
When I'm not traveling, I love to do street photography around my city and do portrait works.
I love shooting street because it forces me to train my vision, my feet and my reflexes. You'll need to be able to see the extraordinary in the ordinary when doing street photography. Street photography also forces you to connect with the environment and your subject.
And one thing that I notice is that the better I get at street photography, the better I get at travel photography as well. I consider street photography as my training wheel to improve myself at photography.
A Child's Stare - Keputran Market, Surabaya
In portrait photography, I approach things differently than most photographers. While most photographers try to "decorate" their subject with many things, I strive to show the true character of the subject. My goal is always to show the real "you" in my portrait works.
Your face's natural expression, natural body language and clean background usually do the thing here.
This is quite challenging because when we grow up, we wear a mask and we are very good at it. Peeling the layers of masks that we wear and showing it in our photographs is a very challenging but very rewarding at the same time.
You'll have to be able to get comfortable in talking and connecting with your subject. You'll sometimes need to be able to talk in a deeper level with your subject as well.
This is the kind challenges that I love taking in portrait photography.
On Joining Photography Contest
After shooting for quite some time, I decided to join the some photography contest just out of curiosity and to see how my skills measure up with other photographers.
I know I'm not a professional photographer so I have a very low expectation of the outcome. I selected some photos that I loved and submitted them to several photo competitions.
After I submitted my photos, I went back to my daily routine and quickly forgot about my submissions. Several months went by and when I checked my email in the morning, I got an email from Sony and World Photography Organization.
They told me that I won 1st place in the National Award Category and I will be flown to London to receive the awards!
Now, I'm quite happy with winning 1st place in any photo competition. But winning 1st place in the largest photography competition in the planet? Words just cannot describe how I felt at that time.
After receiving the award in London, I went back home and get on with my daily life. I haven't been to London before so it was a great first time travel experience for me. Some of the winners there can be considered world class photographers and it was truly a joy getting to know them.
Several months went by again and I checked my email in the morning. Checking email has never been so fun.
This time I was quite trembling to read where I got the email from: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
I loved reading National Geographic books and I consider them a source of inspiration in my photography. One of my dream is to see them publish one of my photographs. To get an experience with National Geographic, I joined their annual contest.
Again, I didn't have a high expectation in the outcome knowing that there are so many world class photographers in National Geographic. I was expecting the email to be some sort of National Geographic promotion like magazine or book discount.
But no. Somehow the photography world keep wanting to surprise me. This time, National Geographic sent me an email to notify me that I won Honorable Mention in the Nature category.
And just within a few days of the announcement, the social media in my home country went crazy.
I got a call the next morning from a local TV station saying that they want to interview me live on TV. The next day a radio station asked for an interview as well. And I was invited several times to speak at various live events about photography.
As times goes on, more and more places started to exhibit my works. My works have been exhibited and featured in numerous international galleries and museums, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
If you've spent some time exploring this site and looking some of my photographs, chances are you've seen my photograph somewhere before thanks to the constant publications that I've been receiving.
Although this has made me a lot busier than usual, It has been quite an enjoyable roller coaster ride for me in the photography world.
I can only thank God Almighty for all the blessings that he has given me so far in my photography journey.
With all of my accomplishments and blessings, I also have a strong urge to do something...
On Photography Coaching
One of my passion is in sharing my photography knowledge with others. I believe in the power of sharing and helping others find their own potential through coaching.
Notice that I didn't use the word "teach" here. I used the word "coach" to emphasize the need for constant communication and feedback that needs to happen between the teacher and student in a learning session.
I've experienced different methods of teaching and the one that I think works best is the one where the students and the teacher can have direct communication and interaction.
I've conducted photography workshops, spoke in various events and coached quite a few students in photography.
If you're interested in learning photography and would love to be coached by me, check out the "LEARN" section on this website. There you can see all the videos and courses that I offer, both offline and online.
My hope is that by learning from me, you can be a BETTER photographer than I am.
So, that's all that I have to say about me for now...
If you've made it to the end of this page, hats off to you. And thank you!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my works and take care.
"Everyone loves your shot!"
~ Christopher M. (Vice President of Creative, National Geographic)
Copyright © Andrew Suryono. All rights reserved. No contents can be reproduced without written permission.