It’s not every day that you find someone living their dream job and their passions at the same time. Usually you’ll read about those people in magazines, see them on television, or they’ve written books on their success on how to live ‘that’ life. So for me, when I find those success stories in my country, in my neighbourhood, or in my Kalooki Family, I feel the need to share it.
Today, I introduce you to Chinphotographics by Osbourne Chin. Chin is a young Jamaican who works as a Director of Tourism Facilitation by day, but by night he engages his passion for Photography.
You are Director of Tourism Facilitation. Can you break down what exactly does that mean? What do you do as the Director of Tourism Facilitation?
That is a very good question! In fact, I have been asked this question every single time I tell someone my title or hand them a business card! The title Tourism Facilitation is a bit misleading as to exactly what I do. I work in the Tourism Policy and Monitoring Division of the Ministry of Tourism. This Division deals primarily with the development of Tourism policies, plans and programmes and acts as the unit for facilitating such developments. In fact, three other persons in the division have the term ‘facilitation’ in their titles.
What I am responsible for however, is the management of the Sustainable Tourism portfolio of the Ministry. This deals specifically with the policies and programmes the Ministry is putting in place to address the impact of visitors on destination Jamaica while encouraging the protection of the cultural heritage and the environment while providing long-term social and economic opportunities for local residents.
In other words, I am responsible for all areas of the tourism portfolio that deals with the environment – ecotourism, community tourism, climate change adaptation, disaster management, etc., etc.
Wow, how long have you been a Director?
I have been in this position for approximately 16 months (1 year and change) since October of 2012.
Can you list some of your qualifications as a Director of Tourism Facilitation?
I possess a sole Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of the West Indies. I however have certification and formal training in Urban and Regional Planning, Surveying, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), Tourism Management and Development, Project Management, Biodiversity Conservation, Disaster Management, Policy Development.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job has been the focus on the issues that have a national impact. Being able to work in an environment that places emphasis on national development gives me hope for a better Jamaica. Also, if I may add… the job also allows me to build capacity in a number of areas and to travel to new and exciting places around the world.
Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? If not, what was your dream job/career?
No. Tourism was never something I thought about doing. However, working in and around environmental matters was always something I was passionate about. So there is some linkages between what I do now and one of my passions.
10 years ago, did you envision yourself being where you are today?
Simple answer is no. 10 years ago I was still at UWI trying to figure out where my next meal would be coming from or where I would sleep. Lol I always envisioned myself playing cricket for the West Indies or being an airline pilot.
When did you realize you had an eye for photography? And when did you decide to pursue it?
Photography has always been something I have been passionate about. Even before I owned my first camera I was always amazed at photographs and the way they seemed to tell a story. I always wanted to recreate some of these photographs and share a little of my vision through my images.
I decided to pursue photography full-time or part-time as a serious hobby/career after my daughter’s 1st birthday. I had hired a friend to take the photos and was quite pleased with the results. Needless to say I was always taking pictures of her but the clarity and crispness of those images sparked my enthusiasm more. Zoi has now become my main subject!
Have you done any formal training in photography? If so, where?
If by formal you mean paying for classes or getting a certificate, then no, I have not received any ‘formal’ training in photography. I am always learning about photography, reading books, articles, watching tutorials, reading blogs, practising, practising, practising… but my work speaks for itself.
How do you balance your career as a Director and your love for photography?
This was not very hard to do at first. It has however been a lot more difficult after exploring the photography market. I must say that both can be conflicting, yet on the flip side my job takes me places where I can use my photography to compliment my work. All in all, I must say that with all things in life there has to be a balance and I try to make time for my passions outside of office hours.
When did you realize you could turn this interest/love into a business venture?
A very good friend of mine saw my work one day and told me that when she is getting married she would want me to shoot her wedding. I was a bit hesitant because I never even thought of becoming a ‘wedding photographer’! She said she loved the way I captured my images in an artistic way and she would love to have her wedding photos done that way.
Needless to say, she was getting married the following month so I had very little time to research and get prepared. I shot her wedding with an entry-level camera with two very cheap lenses but you would never know this by looking at the photos! She told me she had a set budget for photography and she would be paying me that (I wasn’t sure what the market was charging). That experience opened my eyes to the endless possibilities!
What challenges have you faced as a photographer and how did or do you overcome those challenges?
I have faced numerous challenges as a photographer! Most people think it’s easy becoming a photographer and taking pictures of everything and anything. The reality is that it takes tremendous amounts of patience, discipline, focus, and commitment to do well at it. I have always been on the reserved side – shy if you may – but being a photographer has allowed me to overcome that passive side and now I am more assertive and bold.
Another challenge that I have had to deal with is managing my finances. As with any passion you will want to invest in it and become better at it. I have at times found myself splurging on new gear much to the detriment of my pocket. I am still trying to be more disciplined in that regard by making the most out what I already have.
What are some of the highlights of being a photographer?
I have had the opportunity to take photographs in over 6 different countries. These include photos of places and people I only dreamt about or saw in magazines. I have had the opportunity to capture special moments of families, lovers, children, and events. I believe that once these precious moments are captured I have done my job in preserving special memories. Photography has also allowed me to meet new and interesting people from all walks of life.
Who or what inspires you?
I try to draw inspiration from everything around me. I try to feel a personal connection with my environment. If I may be a little bold, I will say that love inspires me! I love to capture people in love! It makes my heart happy whenever I see two people happy in love.
My daughter’s smile is probably the single most inspiring thing I know which explains why I am always taking pictures of her.
In terms of photography, I draw inspiration from some of the best in the business both locally and internationally. The work of the photographer Craig Phang Sang totally blows my mind away every time! He is a true artist.
Other local photographers I draw inspiration from are Merrick Cousley and Courtney Chen to name a few. Internationally there are many but the two I follow closely are Jasmine Star and Jeremy Cowart.
What is the next big step for you?
This is a difficult question. I never know what my next big step is. I live one day at a time and make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. I do however want to continue onto post-graduate studies in the near future. I am also working my way up the ladder to become one of Jamaica’s top photographers.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a hobby/dream/interest while working a regular 9 – 5?
My advice to anyone wanting to pursue a passion while working a 9-5 is to go for it! Do whatever it takes to achieve your dreams! You are only limiting your personal growth and potential to excel if you keep putting it off. Start small so it is easy to balance then gradually build upon these dreams. Whatever it is, you can do it!
Thanks again Chin for doing this interview with me.