Nikon Imaging | South Africa | Middle East and Africa

Library of Inspiration

In Session with Nikon School – Getting to know Alex Chen

What inspired you to pick up photography?
If I had to pinpoint an inspiration, it would be Switzerland’s breath-taking scenery. When I first visited the country, it left me awestruck and sparked in me a strong desire to document all of its beauty exactly as I saw it then.
After careful consideration, I committed to honing my photography skills and purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D5000. Photography has been a huge part of my life ever since.

Why photography, instead of other art forms?
Photojournalism has always captured my interests. I used to dream about becoming a member of Magnum Photos, an online community sharing a vision of chronicling world events. I would even deliberately show up in potentially historical moments and snap away on my camera!

What does it mean to you to be part of the Nikon School community as an instructor?
Throughout my 7 years of being a photographer, Nikon gear has always been my most reliable companions. When I was approached to be a Nikon School instructor, I said yes without a second thought!

Nikon School is really important to me. It is a platform that connects all photographers – beginners, enthusiasts and professionals – to form a community to share knowledge, expertise, and inspiration. For me, it’s all about the connection. With Nikon School, I not only get to share what I’ve learned throughout my journey, but also mingle with like-minded individuals and even build strong friendships.

What’s one misconception that you hear pretty often about Nikon School?
Some think that Nikon School is only for Nikon photographers. Actually, Nikon School is for anyone craving to know more about photography, regardless of the brand of camera they use, or even the type of camera. Even smartphone photographers are welcomed!

What are the Nikon School classes you teach?

I am currently teaching “Travel and Street Photography”, as well as “Discovering Your Neighbourhood”. I will also be teaching a class on editing techniques, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

What would you say to photography beginners looking to pick up travel and street photography?
As street photography is usually done quite candidly and without your subject’s knowledge, always bear in mind to respect your subject’s personal space. For the most compelling photos, it is best to immerse yourself in the culture of your surroundings, patiently observing and waiting for the right moment to get that perfect shot. It may take a while, but it’s definitely worth it.

What is one misconception about photo/video editing that you would like to address?
Editing, or post-processing, has a notorious reputation as people often equate it to stretching the truth. I personally see post-processing as an extension of the photography process and is meant to complement my work. Having said that, photographers should always keep in mind that preparation and conceptualisation of the shot is far more important than post-processing.

How do you continue learning and improving your photography techniques?
The learning never stops. I constantly make reference to works of art such as movies, comics, fashion design and other great photographers’ works. It is important to have an open mind and constantly keep yourself in-the-know with the latest technology, which could work out to be a time- and money-saver in the future.

Never be afraid of trying, and never give up.



Tell us about a mini photography project of yours.
I’ve actually been trying out aerial photography, and I love how it gives the audience a different perspective of a scene. It’s definitely risky, but with a bit of practice, responsibility and guts, it often results in pictures that make you go “wow”.

Lastly, what’s your current go-to photography kit?
The D500 is currently my favourite DSLR. It’s perfectly designed for any situation with its exceptionally fast focusing.

If I had to choose two lenses that I favour most, they would be the AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G and AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. The former sports a really versatile focal length, while the latter never lets me down with its supreme image quality and distortion control.

Throw in a mini LED light with CTO/CTB and I’m ready for any situation.

About Alex

Having been exposed to a variety of art types in his childhood such as painting and sketching, Alex continued his penchant for visual art through university despite majoring in engineering. He recently co-founded a boutique visual studio and now leads a team of photographers and videographers to capture memories that last a lifetime.