BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Switching from softboxes and remote flashes to all natural lighting really paid off for local photo studio Masamichi, as its blue ocean strategy helped raked in huge profits following renovation works at its outfit in Telanai Avenue.
The studio has done away with lighting equipment and fancy backdrops in favour of bright-coloured floors and walls, props and giant glass doors that allow a good amount of natural light in during photo sessions with clients.
It was certainly a huge bet for the studio’s founder Jason Ong, who decided to give his decade-old venture a radical overhaul in the wake of increasing competition and a highly saturated market for photography services in Brunei.
“The business is getting tougher nowadays. More people are picking up photography. If you can use a camera or a high spec camera phone, you can be a photographer,” he said.
Ong even admitted that he did not expect the idea to be a hit at first, until his studio managed to generate $25,000 in revenue during the Hari Raya season, a far cry from the $10,000 average earnings during the studio’s artificial lighting setup days.
“Us seasoned photographers have a lot more to offer because we understand lighting better, and we understand what other things to consider in order to take great shots apart from just relying solely on photo manipulation,” said Ong, who received the Wedding and Portrait Photography International (WPPI) awards twice in 2013 and 2015.
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While the use of natural lighting for photoshoots isn’t a new concept, Ong said, the technique is commonly practiced by photographers when they are outdoors.
“And not many people are aware of the impact of lighting in photos,” added the 43-year-old.
Using his accumulated experience, Ong invested $30,000 to revamp his studio that heavily relies on natural lighting to help accomplish his vision.
“I believe we are the first to kick off this concept. I’ve approach quite a number of studios in Brunei and no one is doing this.”
Though he expect more photo studios in Brunei would eventually replicate this concept, Ong said he is not fazed by impending copycats, adding that a healthy dose of competition can spur demand for natural lighting studio photography.
“Since we’ve got a good head-start, we will be able to improve our services.
“Right now we are already working on introducing different themes each month which we will soon announce on social media,” said the photographer.
Ong said the recent Hari Raya season was a huge windfall for Masamichi, as a lot of people would go to photo studios to take family photos during that period.
“In Brunei, there are four big photo seasons – Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, graduation, and Christmas.
“At the moment, we are in the graduation season. I can say that so far, we are doing pretty well with our business,” he added.