Who is He?

Rona Chan is a freelance photographer with his own studio in Hong Kong. I first met him three to four years ago when I participated in the Cantonese fellowship (GO Fellowship) at Golden Gate Reformed Christian Church in San Francisco. He is my personal inspiration since he is a successful freelancer and entrepreneur. In short, he is a great guy with awesome talent.

Check him out at:


Why did you buy Mac versus PC?

The Mac has a kickass display. It runs super smoother, especially for Adobe applications and other photo and video rendering intensive softwares.

What type of equipments do you use?

Macbook pro 15 retina 2014

Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, Final Cut Pro.

Cameras and Lens 

I use quite expensive gear. Needless to say, I invest in great tools to produce professional and high quality results. I do this to ensure that my customers get the greatest pictures.

Gear for Wedding pictures

As I said, the pricer and expensive cameras are preferred because the the overall performance and quality is better. Furthermore, a higher price range camera is more reliable, reaction time is faster and the image captured is high-end quality. Furthermore, the the high-end cameras are better built, more durable, works under multiple weather conditions. They takes better pictures even when in low light environments. It’s kind of comparing a Toyota Corolla to a Mercedes, in terms of utility, they both will get you from point A to point B, however, the latter will bring you there faster.


What does it take to run your own business?

Firstly, expect not to make any money within 2 years, not even breaking even. Second, within this beginning stages, it is imperative to exercise great control and management of your finances.

Secondly, I thought I was a great photographer since I made people look good. However, I realised this was not enough to make a living as a photographer, taking good pictures is not enough. Ultimately, what you are doing is first a business, then it is art and photography. Reversely, if you were to prioritise art and photography before the business, you will end up having nothing.

Lastly, you must continuously research and study other photographer’s work and how they run their own freelance business. Initially as a novice photographer, you  must imitate the work and style of other photographers.


5 Skills and Traits Needed to Be a Self-Employed Photographer (Freelancer)

1. Patience

Its like fishing. You spend more time sitting at your office doing busywork, such as replying to email, than going out to take pictures. Stay patient and stay calm. You have to spend a lot of time waiting for a client, but at the same time, I’m not endorsing idle waiting, instead what I mean is even when your not getting the amount of clients you originally expect, nevertheless, you must remain calm and composed and work through long periods when the fish don’t bite.

2. Organisation Skills

You have to know your business in and out. Specifically, you must be conscious that what you do will either bring you business or keep away business. Hence, it’s crucial to micromanage every small detail of your business, for instance, keeping track of communications with clients via email or social media platforms (Whatsapp, Line, WeChat, etc). Simultaneously, remaining concious of all your clients requirements, needs, and expectations, this is extremely important since every client demands different services and nuances concerning their own particularly photo project. In short, know your business well.

3. Self-Discipline 

Self-discipline is essential. Aside from scheduling and planning out your work hours, self-discipline is imperative in respects to the budget and finance aspect of your business. Obviously, money is an essential factor for any business. The downfall of most self-employed individuals is that you over-estimate your ability to generate revenue and splurge your money like opening a fire hose. My advice would be you have to think of yourself as an employee and not an employer. If you think of yourself as a boss, you will spend a lot of money that you shouldn’t spend. With an employee mindset, you will employ the habit and character that the money doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the company. Next, being your own boss requires you to realise that you write your own pay-check. If you mix up your own money with the money of your business, you will be out of business in no time. Money concerning your business has to be independent of your own personal spendings. That being said, you have to have exercise great control of your personal and business money, yourself to not use money that belongs to your business.

4. People Skills

People skills are a necessity regardless of what kind of business you are doing. As a photographer, clients will not only care about the pictures I can take, but also the type of person I am. If I was a jerk, it will turn people off, thus losing a potential long term client as a result. You are an artist, but you are also a businessman. People should appreciate my art, but people don’t come to see your pictures only, they also come here to meet you to see if you are the right person to meet their needs.

5. Humility 

Humility is the thing that keeps your feet on the ground. It also helps you realise that you always have room for improvement.


How Should an Inspiring Freelance Photographer Begin Their Career?

Ask yourself why you want to do it? Why photography? Theres so many things you can do as a freelancer. Do you love taking pictures? Or do you think that it’s cool to be a photographer? Or do you think theres money in photography?

Being a photographer is just like being a professional musician. You have to first love music to be a musician, in the same way, you have to first love taking pictures in order to be a photographer. The only way to thrive as free lance photographer is to constantly improve and this is only done if you love your trade.

In terms of equipment, for a beginning freelancer, I would recommend second-hand equipment. I would recommend the D700 Nikon Camera (over a $1000), since its the most popular camera for wedding photography.

What is a camera that takes good photo and video? The D800 Nikon (over $2000)


What types of photography are out there?

Wedding photography

Wedding photography is the fastest and easiest way to start making money in photography. For me, wedding photography is the most interesting.

 Commercial photography

Commercial photography is also another way to make money right away, but it requires more knowledge and skill pertaining to business and technical skills, such as studio and lighting set-up, moreover, it requires a lot of creativity because you are dealing with marketing and advertising. In addition, there is tons of competition. In most cases, you will need a formal degree in business or have similar business training or background aside from photography skills in order to thrive.

Product photography

Product photography is also another way to go. However, in my opinion, it is really boring. It is rather stiff since you just take pictures of products all day.

Documentary photography

Lastly, documentary photography is a great option for someone who enjoys traveling around the world (like you Alex) and take pictures pertaining to the tourist attractions, national monuments, and sceneries that you encounter.



*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship 


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