Iris from is a good friend whom we met on the Internet. During her recent wedding, she recalled how we first ‘met’. She was looking for websites to upload her video and found my web portal, so she emailed me to enquire. Then we hit it off.

Ironic thing is: she never realised I was male until after many months later on one particular day she asked me through MSN. That was when I realised some people don’t know whether my name, Chester, is a guy or a girl’s name. Interesting.

Back to the topic, she recently asked me this question:

Do you consider yourself a musician or photographer?

2 years ago, I would wholeheartedly say I’m a musician. Back then, I was building up my credentials, producing albums that I wouldn’t be able to do if not for Rhythmiz Music Production and Gilbert Ong (if you are an aspiring and marketable songwriter, singer, and don’t want to get neglected by large Talent Management corporations, he’s your man, the “Jerry Maguire” of the music industry).

Today, I look at my photographic achievements and asked my heart. My answer is that I would choose being a photographer over a musician. Reason is simple: photography reaches to all people, but music has limited reach. People are willing to pay for photography works, but not for music. Photography produces results faster: shoot in less than a second and process in a few minutes, and you get a decent image. Music takes hours, even months, to compose, arrange, record, mix and master. You don’t need to look good to be a successful photographer, but if you don’t look appealing in the music industry, you can forget about appearing on CD covers or being marketed by record labels.

See, that’s the big problem: music has become so commercialised. It’s no longer about quality, but popularity. The good thing is: musicians are turning independent, selling albums by their own means, gaining fans through their raw talent. These are the artists who will stand the test of time and be ever popular because they earned their fans through their songs.

Meanwhile, I am keeping both options open. Who knows, a third one may appear in a few years.

The good thing about both music and photography? They both transcend age. I can still write music and shoot photos when I am 60 – if I am physically capable, that is.

So the answer to Iris’ question would be:

Call me a musician if you like my music. Name me as a photographer if you like my photos.

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