Photographs are memories frozen in time by Norman Tjahanto


Dear Steve, I have been reading your website for quite a while now. And to be honest, I have gotten some inspiration of getting a Leica in my hands because of you, and a few other writers that have shared their experience. Now I would like to share mine, but not specifically about Leica, but more in general, about how photography is to me.

I have been taking pictures since 5-6 years ago, and I have never thought how it could change me into the way I am today. I bought my first dSLR because I felt “I needed one to record things and take pictures of things IN CASE I need it”  but as time goes on, photography has become my passion, it’s a never-ending excitement for me. Now, I can’t leave home without taking my camera(s) with me. It even inspired me to blog! LOL.

Sharing a little about the gears I am using, currently the most usage are between two cameras, the Leica M8 with the collapsible summicron 5cm, and the Olympus OM-D EM-5 with its kit lens and the Panasonic 20/1.7. I have found that setup gives me the best results (for me), and gives me the lightweight carry. There are of course, larger, and better gears with better specification. But I don’t want to carry all that weight, and get tired and feel grumpy and cranky during all my travels (like what happened to me when I visited Japan with my wife, I carried a whole backpack of gears). So, I chose to slim down the sizes.

Enough of the gear chitchat, I’m sure you can describe them better than I can Steve, but I personally think the gear is just gear. What’s most important, is the result that I am getting from it. Each and every single snap I take I think is a memory of my own, my wife’s, my families’ and friends’. They are those who makes up my life, and thanks to these cameras today, I can always look back and think back of all the things that has happened to me. I can smile, I can laugh, I can giggle, and I can shed a tear. And especially, we love to travel, so I think it would be a waste if we can only relive those memories in our heads, having pictures would *almost* be like being there all over again, or makes us want to go there again hahahaha…

Many people discussed what gear is good, what gear is better (and still does), but I hope they are not missing the point of what these gears are supposed to do. To record moments in life that can never happen twice, never. These are precious of the precious. I always think that we can never BUY time, we can never TIME TRAVEL (well who knows in the future), and God help us but we can’t avoid death either. But from all that, I believe these pictures compiled together will tell a story to ourselves, families, friends, or even strangers. These are those bits and pieces that stays, forever. So yeah, I always keep at least one camera ready in my car at all times, and if I hop off my car, I take it with me. Because I will never know if there is anything that would mean something to me in my day-to-day life. Well why not, with cameras so small these days, I think it’s worth carrying it around anywhere.

I even had a vision, if one day my wife and I passes away, these pictures and my blog can be continued on by our children, and their children and so on. As to make up a family story and share with generations to come. I would be very happy if one day my grandchild will look up to a collection of my pictures and he/she will understand slightly what kind of life that their grandparents have lived, and what is shared. I think it’ll be awesome if I can realize that, and make that come true. But, well that’s a long way from now, but we all gotta start somewhere, right?

Now I intend to take photography as my full-time job (right now it’s part-time, I have a few paid jobs here and there), as I think I want to do something that makes me happy, and something that means alot to me and I think photography is my calling. Well yeah I think many of my photographs are still crappy and I will need to keep learning, but as I said, we all gotta start somewhere, don’t we?



  1. Hey Norman, great photographs and a great attitude. If you are doing what you love and you are getting by financially then… you win. As for not going pro until you ‘get the stuff right all the time’, I have to respectfully disagree. The key in my view is to get out there and do it, the real world is the best (and harshest) teacher. Also, it depends on the kind of work you are going to try for. Never forget that 80% of each roll by masters such as Frank, HCB etc were unusable they were so bad (missed timing, incorrect exposure, composition way off). You only need to go through the Magnum contact sheets to see that. Of course in the 20% you find world changing images but maybe that is how you rate a pro (at least in the documentary/photojournalism space), by his or her top 20% rather than his bottom 80% which only shows they don’t get it right all the time. If the Masters of history had waited until they got it right all the time, there would not be any pictures out there at all. Follow your gut and do what you think is right.

    • Thanks Stephen, I do understand what you are doing and I feel that I keep shooting no matter what. As mentioned Im doing alot of part time jobs to get more experience before going fill pro. But yeah no one will get 100/100 perfect shots all the time!

      • H Guys
        I am not saying that every shot needs to be perfect. No pro does that but they get a good selection of pro shots per session. You can’t do a session and have nothing great for your client. 😉 In todays world many new photographers learn on the go, jump into the field without being fully ready, and charge lower fees because they are still learning. With that learning model in place many new photographers have destroyed a profession that they loved and were eager to enter. D!RK

        • Ah no worries about that one Dirk, I dont market myself just uet but just fr word of mouth. Those who appreciates my work can come to me and discuss whatever they like to be photoghraped and I will tell them my limitations too. So they will know if they can have what the expect frome. I do understand that many photographers are doing that learning on the go curve, but each to his or her own on that one, Im not going to comment on that hehehe..

  2. Thanks for publishing my babblings Steve! And Yea of course the key is to learn learn and learn. Im not going to go full pro based on trials and errors or pure luck.. Thanks fot the support guys!

  3. Norman, you’ve got a good eye for what’s interesting & for composition. I like your attitude & approach.
    You’ll be fine!!

  4. Don’t go into photography until you feel that you can produce consistent quality, no matter what happens. Todays tools allow us to get decent, nice shots here and there but for professionals the key is to get the stuff right all the time. Good luck on your journey. D!RK

    • Many pros (Chase Jarvis is what comes to mind at the moment) say that 80%-90% of there work is not very good and only showcase some of that 20%-10%. I do see what you are saying though.

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