Lionking Cliff. Courtesy of Arnold Lan.

Toronto is full of photographers, and UofT’s St. George campus is certainly no exception. On any given day, you’re bound to find swarms of people taking pictures around Convocation Hall. While for many, photography is a hobby, there are plenty of others who take the craft of picture taking quite seriously. I caught up with Arnold Lan, a 22-year-old U of T student following his return to Toronto from DreamJobbing: Norway, a TV show based in Norway.

Having only picked up the camera a year ago, Lan managed to be featured on the show with barely any experience at all. He began photography solely on his friend’s suggestion that it would help improve his cinematography skills.

“The trip to Norway was absolutely phenomenal,” says Lan. “Some people might say that I took nice pictures of Norway, but I’d say ‘no, Norway is just really easy to photograph.’ If you turn the corner, you’ll see beautiful mountains, and clouds that are as low as the top of the buildings.”

Having initially been interested in theatre acting, Lan first picked up a camera in order to launch a Youtube channel to develop his on-screen acting ability. “I had no knowledge of being on-screen when I first picked up a camera,” Lan said. “I had to learn how to edit and how to shoot… because I had no knowledge about anything.”

Lan is now content to give up acting.

“What I really want to do now is become a traveling photographer.”

He has fond memories of his journey through Norway. “I have several favourite shots [from Norway],” Lan says, outlining a specific landscape photo he took. “I told our tour guide to sit at the edge of the cliff, and I went really far away and got a wide shot of his legs dangling over the cliff. I wanted him to seem like a tiny speck compared to the vastness of the background. I really wanted for people to feel that they were right there with me, and experiencing it with me. I wanted them to feel how small or insignificant he was compared to the vast landscape.”

For budding photographers, Lan has four helpful tips to help hone your picture-taking skills:

Shoot in manual: “Even if you don’t understand what shutter speed, aperture, and ISO do, it’s worth taking the time to learn. You spent the money on an expensive camera — learn how to use it.”

Go out and shoot: “Regardless of your location, it helps to give yourself a mission to take one new picture every single day. Whatever it is, keep shooting. You’ll find that your pictures will only get better overtime.”

Learn post processing: “While you want your picture to be as good as it can be in camera, learning to edit your picture afterwards is essential to any kind of photography.”

Get uncomfortable: “Don’t stick to all the conventional rules; take whatever picture makes you happy. Try crawling on all fours to get a different perspective, or walk around with the camera on your face to see the world through a different lens.”

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