About six years ago, I had a brief partnership with Zespri that didn’t quite materialize. The photography materials I developed wasn’t up to par. One day, I stopped hearing back from them.

I was rendered in a state of confusion.

In my bulky camera bag, I carried a S$1000+ Canon 60D, a Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM lens that every popular YouTubers out there (Laurdiy, Sierra Furtado, etc) were using, and the ever-so-popular 50mm F1.8 prime lens. I possessed the necessary tools that greatest photographers had. The natural lighting in my balcony was soft and gorgeous. I created at least three variations of recipes using Zespri golden and green kiwis. What could I have done wrong?

Ok, I admit this definitely wasn’t my prettiest work.

This was actually one of my favorite food photos I had ever taken. Even though it still didn’t make it to Zespri’s website, I’ve procrastinated posting this photo for the longest time on the grounds that it’s not my favorite anymore. However, the wild infusion of raspberries beneath the cracks on my popsicles remain tantalizing to my tastebuds.

Fast forward a few years later, I started seeing about 100 things I would change about this photo. My toes on the far left (omg MY TOES) that I should’ve photoshopped, the weird pattern transition on my white prop, the direction of natural light, contrast problems at the bottom right, how plasticky my popsicle holders looked…

*head plant*

On the other hand,

I grew up hating almost every part of myself.

Just three years ago, there were so many things I wanted and/or wished to change about myself. If I had seen this photo more than three years ago, it would have been way more than just some toe or pattern problems. I could’ve pointed out 500 flaws to you in a jiff. Yet, when I’m the one behind the camera, I make sure to “optimize” someone else’s angle and hope they can see what I see: their beauties in each moment they have given me. I try to convince them how their laughters brought liveliness to their portraits, and how the texture on their faces brings so much character and stories in dim lightings.

What changed?

We grew up.

We spend weeks working on our crafts, shove it under our beds only to say they are not worthy to see the light of day. We know we can do better. It is demoralizing, but if we pause for a moment and think about it: the very act of us disapproving our past works only means we’ve improved and are now capable of seeing what we were not doing right. 

And as we grow up, we learn to see ourselves in new lights and to embrace our uniqueness. If we’re lucky– our family, friends who matter, and the right person will let you know exactly which imperfection they most adore about you. And suddenly, we find ourselves admiring those who were never tired of being their true selves. They’re loud; they’re wild; but they never shy away from anybody else. That strong sense of individuality, integrity and confidence… definitely something I want to come home to in 2019. 



  1. Keith Lee

    I like the progression of the article and the stories told 🙂

    • calistatee

      Thanks Keith! I really appreciate your feedback 🙂


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