Kerol Izwan in Malaysia

Kerol Izwan in Malaysia

Who are you? 

I'm Kerol Izwan from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have a day job as a science researcher. I travel periodically, and am currently working on my own magazine production with three other friends. 

How did you originally get into photography? How has your outlook on it changed as you've become more experienced? 

Well, I haven’t taken any professional courses on photography, nor do I have a constructive knowledge in the field. It all started with my Nikon D5000 five years ago. Since then, it has given

me a reason to travel. I don't have specific theme or concept to shoot photos. Being an amateur, it’s more like random shots. 

Then, two years ago, the iPhone 5 came into my life and it changed my view on the phone camera usage for photography. Eventually, I focused more on mobile photography. Basically, I develop my ideas through Instagram. Little did I know this craze would become such a great portal to interact with people worldwide who share the same passion and interest. I started to connect with people in every country I went. Amazingly, each person I’ve met has their own style and signature to photograph. For me, I like something minimal and simple. For the record, I still use the iPhone 5 to take photos. 

How does your environment in Asia affect your approach and life? 

The environment in Asia has really affected me in being able to navigate certain things better. Growing up in Asia made me better appreciate little details. In Malaysia, I live in an equal balance of diversity. Getting an exposure from so many dissimilar cultures is a privilege. I have learned how to compromise and accept differences: religion, language, food and more. To conclude: Asia is colorful, rich with various customs, and very flamboyant at its best!

What is it that about mobile photography that intrigues you so much? 

The Instagram and VSCO apps. These two have shown me that mobile photography has broad potentials, not just as a medium to share photos, but by offering a window to the world! I’ve met so many people on all continents that only use the camera on their phone to shoot professionally. It is inspiring to see these people enjoying the thing they love doing. I’ve come to a realization that it is not always about the camera, but the moment captured. I’m not a hardcore editor (because I don’t know or have much knowledge about it). VSCO Cam is practically the only app I use to edit photo with particular filters. I like to keep it minimal though - I prefer to have my photos looking natural, with not too much going on. 

Other than that, mobile photography is the best option for light traveler like me. I hate to check baggage when traveling and my phone camera saved me a few kilograms! It helps me a lot! 

How would you describe your style of photography? 

I’m not sure how to convey my style. But if I have to pick one word to describe, it should be “dapper.” I like my photos to look clean, but not necessarily white. Keep it organic and brown, but not warm. Have one object in a frame and make an outstanding flat lay. I like to shoot non-livingthings, basically something fundamental. I have three major ethos on my Instagram feed:

coffee, travels and music. For years now, I have written a song title as a caption for my posts. I believe each photo has its own soundtrack. 

Truth is, I’m bad at writing captions, and hence the style of music and photo. I listen to folk music a lot!

Do you have any favorite image(s) you’ve taken so far? 

To be honest, yes, and I have used that photo as my iPhone wallpaper ever since! I like my travel photos from Scandinavian countries. The minimal and aesthetic value in those countries really gets me. It works every time with great lighting, be it the stool or desk, or maybe the chests! Furniture and the handsome wall are my two favorite images. 

Where do you get inspiration from? 

I like to read lifestyle magazines and books. My favorite magazines are Offscreen and Smith Journal. Many others too, but mainly independent print. And authors like Haruki Murakami, Chetan Bhagat and Khaled Hosseini are among my favorites. I get inspired by the city, too. For example, Berlin has super great vibes - especially being independent at work. One person told me, people don’t come to Berlin to find a job, but rather create the job. And it is so true! Then there is Shimla in India. I love the simplicity of happiness in this city. It is sincerely shown. And, of course, I get inspired by great people. Not necessarily big names, random people too can be an inspirational factor. 

What are your goals for the future? 

I would like to see my magazine printed, and having everyone understand the stories of Musotrees. The world is too big, but to have at least one thing in common with the reader is the greatest goal. Independent prints speak more soulful content, at least that’s what I think. My team and I have been putting so much effort to make it work. The development process is what matters to me now. The core concept is the same like others - to succeed. We create our goal for the niche who understands. It may be just another travel magazine for some people, but it may not be for some others. 


Interview by Jack Sommer

Kevin De Los Santos