Ben Yew: His Passionate Journey of Exposure

PHOTOGRAPHY - by Phil Treagus - The Reading Lists


Ben Yew, founder of Ben Yew Photography, is a destination wedding photographer who has captured those precious days in Italy, France, New Zealand, Bali and Iceland – to name just a few!  Ben has a wonderful way of describing what he does, so rather than me butcher it; let me just hand you over to Ben… ‘There’s something about being in love that gives a person a little extra light. In photography, we work with mesmerising light and candid moments and our goal is to capture the moment to preserve it for eternity. ‘  Magical, right?!  Ben Yew’s work is truly wonderful, he has an immense talent which has been recognised by a collection of awards, a clambering for interviews and a steady stream of features in popular wedding and photography magazines.  I really enjoyed learning about Ben’s favourite books, so please enjoy my interview with Ben Yew…

When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?

Most photographers would describe what they do in a very creative way such as capturing timeless memories, capturing raw moments, light chasers and many other creative ways to replace the most basic term, photographer.  I think I need to really portray what I do (which is how I shoot) in a minimalist and straightforward approach, I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER; that would normally spark more interest and a potential second question: what do you shoot? That is a good start to a conversation and that is when I share my journey.

What are you reading at the moment?

Vermeer – The Complete Paintings by Norbert Schneider.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

The first book I read, besides Peter & Jane during kindergarten was some fiction from my sisters bookshelf. I can’t remember the exact title.

If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?

Find out what you love to do, your hobby or passion and find the book that relates to your interest. I picked up reading very late in my life because I didn’t know what I liked and I hadn’t yet discovered my passion. Now everything I read is about photography and business. I don’t think there is one book in particular but if that person is like me, I would start with some light reading, perhaps articles from the magazine that they love. Could even be about video games, cars or anything that could help develop their hobby.

When did you fall in love with photography?

I fell in love with photography after attending my first photography workshop. This workshop was provided free as part of the camera package that I had bought. I never knew or planned to make photography my career, it just happened along the way. During the workshop, I felt like I really loved it and with some beginner’s luck, I managed to capture some cool shots from the workshop’s model shoot.  From that day, I was obsessed with photography; right up until today.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I am lucky to not have picked up a bad photography job so far. Although, there are some really challenging jobs that sometimes we whinge about, but looking back after – I’m always glad we took them on. Those jobs helps build my experience of dealing with challenges with work and life. And this is part of the journey that I think we go through to make us successful.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring photographer?

Success actually comes from hard work (besides being creative) and marketing your work. You may produce the most creative or mind blowing work but if no one knows about your work, nothing is going to change.

Who would you say are the three photographers that continue to inspire you?

Annie Leibowitz, Henri-Cartier Bresson and Ansel Adams.

Do you read as much as you’d like to?

I would really love to catch up with my reading, but due to time constraints, unfortunately not at the moment.

What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?

The most important book to read is a book that helps you first discover and understand yourself and your passion. And this is what inspires my quote; ‘passion is your product, and you are your product.’

Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly. Although this is not related to photography directly, it helped me to understand how to market myself and put my work out there. I revisit it to get some inspiration or fresh new angle to my business. It may not provide the solution for your business, but it would inspire you.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

Its a fun and inspiring book, Damn Good Advice: How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by George Lois.

What’s your favourite genre of book?

Any book about Marketing, Art or Photography.

What do you think a world without books would be like?

We would learn slower, make the same mistakes and our progress in general would be much slower.

Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?

I love a variety of writing styles, but my main passion is photography, so it is more about discovering the journey of the famous photographers who inspire me. It may not be written by them, but I love to experience their journey.

Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?

No, I have a kindle but I still love to hold a book in my hand. It just has a different feel to it.

What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?

A book that shares the hardship and journey of a person who made a difference in other people’s lives. This would inspire more people to care and help others to do their part in helping people along the way. Starting with something small.

Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer by Bruce Barnbaum.

What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?

I am starting to lean more towards travel photography and I would love to discover more about the journey of travel photographers.

If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?

My Passionate Journey of Exposure.