Prove your humanity

Grok Magazine sits down with Gavin Tang, a second-year student who is studying a major in Digital and Social Media, as we begin to learn more about his passion for photography, as well as the many opportunities it has brought him so far.

It should be noted that this interview was conducted entirely online due to time constraints.

To start things off, we ask Gavin about when he first started showing an interest in photography. “I started showing an interest in photography when my parents bought me a GoPro. Once the camera ended up in my hands, I was obsessed with it – and yeah, most of the footage and shots were blurry and my face was all over it – but from then on, I knew that I had a passion for photography.” After receiving a GoPro, he was later gifted with his first ever DSLR back in 2018, and it was from there that Gavin decided to educate himself on how to develop certain skills to take photos and videos with his new devices. 

“[…] when I was much younger, I would watch countless videos on how to take photos and make videos just to learn more skills and tricks. It was always a passion of mine to record moments and make them look beautiful.”

Image Credit: Gavin Tang

As a result of wanting to pursue content creation and photography as a career, Gavin speaks about the initial reaction he received from his family after informing them of his aspirations. “At first, I only wanted to pursue a career as a full-time content creator and photographer, because I enjoy watching YouTube videos of content creators travelling around the world with one or two cameras in their hands, shooting content, and working with major artists and celebrities. That was my dream.” He says. “However, my parents advised me that as a full-time content creator and photographer, I will need to have certain skills or knowledge in the field. Furthermore, content creators require bookings to shoot content. But if no one were to engage with them, they would just be sitting idle, and from there, you wouldn’t earn enough money.” 

Upon having this conversation with his parents, Gavin developed a more rational outlook on his desired career path. “[…] my parents advised me to take up a long-term career, and at the same time, I could also pursue a part-time career or side hustle in photography and videography. In that way, I could earn double my income without needing to worry about whether I am making enough profit or income to support myself and my family.”

Moving on, we question Gavin on whether there was a certain piece of media or person that inspired him to work in the digital and social media field. “Yes. I love watching YouTube videos from my favourite content creators who inspire me to work in this field. One of my favourite photographers and biggest inspirations is Sam Kolder (@samkolder). He started making travel videos and vlogs, and is now collaborating with major brands like DJI, MVMT, Huawei, and Gymshark.” He affirms. “On the other hand, I am also inspired by my local friend Chris Chew (@chrischew) for his crazy visuals and his style of photography and videography. Everything about him is mad! Shoutout to him! Mad respect!”

Image Credit: Gavin Tang

Due to the fact that photography and videography involves a lot of editing, we inquire Gavin on what programs or software he uses to fine-tune his work, as well as whether there is anything he enjoys or dislikes about the editing process. “Right now, I am using Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing. Through the editing process, I enjoy the seamless editing functions, as well as the different sidebars and options to play with. It definitely makes the editing process and my workflow a lot easier and smoother.” He conveys. “However, there are some issues that I dislike about the editing process, especially when it [the program] crashes in the middle of my workflow. I would panic because I don’t know whether it [the work] auto-saves or if I have to start the whole process again. The other issue is overheating when importing and editing videos on Adobe Premiere Pro. Once that happens, the fan swirls so noisily and it overheats a little on my laptop. But besides that, all is good.”

As he previously received a chance to have his photographs be featured in an online Grok Magazine article titled “Interviews with Students Voting for the Guild Election”, we ask Gavin how the opportunity benefitted him in terms of improving both his confidence and photography skills. “I would say it has been an honour working alongside Grok Magazine to showcase my photographic skills and be appreciated for what I have done. I definitely feel a lot more confident with showing people my work because I know that there are a lot of people, especially my friends and family, supporting me in what I am doing.”

In addition to working with Grok Magazine, we question Gavin on whether he’s received any similar opportunities to showcase his work. “I recently applied as Student Ambassador because it gives me opportunities for personal and professional development in an encouraging and challenging environment, using both leadership and communication skills.” He states. “I love to get involved in many hands-on experiences because it allows me to expand my creative skills, and at the same time, have fun with what I am doing.”

Image Credit: Gavin Tang

Nearing the end of our discussion, we ask Gavin about what he plans to do after he finishes his course. “After completing my undergraduate degree, I plan on taking some time off to do internships and volunteer opportunities. Then, I plan to continue studying for my postgraduate Masters’ degree here at Curtin.” He answers. “My long-term ambition is to become a full-time digital and social media marketing specialist, with a side hustle as a part-time content creator, photographer and videographer. And after gaining some work experience, I plan to start up my own content creation production company. Sounds great, right?”

As we reach the conclusion of our interview, Grok Magazine inquires Gavin on whether he has any advice for Curtin University students who intend to work within the screen and media industry. “I always live by the motto “trust the process”. Don’t be afraid to try new skills and take up challenges. Too often have I heard my peers or friends telling me, “man, I don’t think I have enough skills to do this or to take up this challenge”. The truth is, you never will if you never start.” He advises. 

“Just go all out and create, and don’t worry about the results. Mistakes are meant to be made. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that is what keeps you going stronger in the end. Work hard, don’t give up on your dreams, have fun doing it and most importantly… trust the process. Working in the screen and media industry is a very tiring career path but the satisfaction of completing a project and watching the effort you put into the project pay-off is surreal.”

If you’re interested in seeing some of Gavin’s work, feel free to check out his Instagram (@gxvstang) and TikTok (@thegavintang).