Brunei Darussalam


| The Brunei Times Personality Of The Week: Jan Shim, An Accidental Artist |

There comes a time in one’s life when have a moment, time-out in the daily grind, to look back the past year(s) and make a conscious effort to recall the people who or the things that have made an impact in your life, fleeting moments that go unnoticed and often unappreciated. We all love celebrations and more to the point, we love to find reasons to celebrate. Today, on Dec 31 2007 as we get ready to hang up a new calendar, I write this post to celebrate life and to thank the people who’ve made today possible for me!

SHIMWORLD Blog – One Year Later.
On Nov 3 2007, SHIMWORLD blog celebrated its first year anniversary having inaugurated this blog with this article. Since then I have made 160 posts including this one and with your support and appreciation, I’m all charged up for the new year. Expect the Unexpected springs to mind as to what 2008 holds. Who really knows, life is short, make the full use of what’s right in front of you! SHIMWORLD is my way of capturing the moments, however fleeting they may be, so that years from now, I can look back at my accomplishments and reminisce the precious moments (good and bad) I’ve had with people who shared my journey.

One of those things that changed my life was a Canon EOS 300D digital SLR camera that I picked up on October 14, 2003 along with my first professional L lens, the EF 17-40 f/4. That was intended to replace the Kodak 1.6-MP DC-265 which I had used mainly for motoring interests (and pictures of the kids growing up). For its intended purpose the 300D was OK but soon I needed a better camera as I hit the threshold of the 300D’s usability. Then the EOS 20D, EOS 1D Mark II and EOS 5D followed. This post isn’t about the equipment I own but rather the journey and the opportunities they brought me!

Canon EOS 300D & EF17-40 L lens © Jan Shim Photography

From time to time, I receive enquiries from visitors concerning my career switch from IT to photography. One such recent visitor named priscias comments @ LOUIS VUITTON. A WORK OF ART.

I love that photo you posted as the first thing that came into my mind was, “Such a nice shot of a LV trunk!” but to realize it was the exterior of the LV boutique when I read further on.

What’s the challenge you faced when you switched your career from IT to photography?

I am studying business computing now and I am taking photography module as an elective. I honestly feel that I won’t be able to make it in the IT industry, at the same time, I am interested in photography.

As it turns out, there are many IT professionals who are also weekend wedding photographers. I say Weddings because that’s the biggest and most sought after photography services that’s always in demand at any price point. Photography for the most part did not start as a part time income for me nor did it start as a hobby. I had no passion for photographs and as a kid I hated being asked or posed to be photographed (much like my daughter’s reluctance today). Looking back, it was my dad’s passion for photography on his film body Canon AE-1 that gave us memories that would not have otherwise been captured.

Looking forward, I got into the photography business purely by accident. I had left my 13-year IT career to further pursue internet business opportunities that I had established a couple of years earlier. With the 300D, I discovered a whole new world outside the realm of IT. One thing led to another and I found myself exploring opportunities to meet people and see just how far the camera would take me to. Suddenly it dawned on me that the 300D is no longer a tool to produce great photographs but a fantastic networking tool.

On July 4th 2004, I shot my first wedding for a young Chinese couple whose bride Ee Shu (right) worked for one of my IT solutions partners. Like any enthusiastic newbie, I agreed to shooting her Actual Day wedding tea ceremony and banquet together with a colleague of hers. Interestingly, 3.5 years later on December 8–9 2007, I shot a wedding of one of her closest friends, Adeline (pictured left) in A December Wedding to Remember.

Later that month (July 2004) at His Majesty’s the Sultan of Brunei’s Birthday celebration in my town Seria, I had taken a casual photograph of the Mr Lau Ah Kok, Chairman of Hua Ho Department Store , the largest chain of department stores in Brunei who also carries the title Pehin Dato Kapitan China Kornia Di Raja bestowed by the Sultan. Then in August 2004 at the Belait district celebration of the Crown Prince’s wedding (photos from Bandar Seri Begawan street parade), I handed an 8R print of the photograph I had taken in July to his Personal Assistant who promptly handed to Pehin Lau. What happened next changed the course of my career permanently.

Pehin Lau (center) with USA TODAY journalists © Jan Shim Photography

Pehin invited me to join him at the Royal luncheon at the Belait District Officer’s residence and with everyone dressed in formal attire, I was the only one who was casual. My reluctance to accept his impromptu invitation was overcome by his insistence to step into his Lexus 430. From that moment on, I became his Personal Photographer till only very recently I moved on pursue other photography interests. Here’s a copy of that fateful photograph.


So, what challenges did I face switching from IT to photography?
Someone who’s just breaking into the photography market would face insurmountable number of challenges obvious to an unfamiliar environment. Having over a decade of real-world business experience helped overcome the otherwise steep learning curve. Running Jan Shim Photography like a small business has been the biggest differentiation factor to making it in a short time frame. Know the market, know the competition and set realistic goals and work towards them—the subject of photography covers a very wide spectrum—my strength coming from corporate background is, well, corporate events, commercial photography and so forth. There isn’t a single success formula to do well in this business—what may work for me may be a disaster for another. It’s also my observation that the market here has suffered quite an erosion as discussed on Maurina’s blog.

A very busy 4 years or so track record that seemed to have gone by so quickly. Not exactly a blink of an eye but rather several hundred shutter actuations later, I had in that time photographed weddings, corporate events, food and bank commercials, destination holidays and the countless people I’ve met not forgetting the relationships forged have been the most rewarding time of my life.

The month of Dec 2007 brings to mind a number of notable events such as:

In my December Starbucks Rendezvous 2, I met with Award Winning Wedding Photog Stephen Loh of Lyrical Moments, Gerald Tay, Chon Chat, Vernon Leow besides managing my kids on their vacation in Singapore. December is a month of balancing personal year-end activities and client’s events before the mad rush comes to a mellow end.

More often than not, productivity comes with little sacrifices that require a traditional touch for comfort much like how we wind down and look forward to a new year! Some drink and watch fireworks while others like me prefer some blistering cuppas—the man said “you have a lot of wind I’ll put some cups on your shoulder” Guess he got carried away somewhat!

cupping-2008.jpgCupping Therapy © Jan Shim Photography

Looking back (or at my back), I look forward to what opportunities the new year brings. That said, there isn’t a better time than today to thank everyone who made a difference in my life—YOU know who you are! 🙂

Brunei Darussalam


This school holiday, the kids got more than they bargained for. Just a week earlier, I took them to Singapore, stayed at Park Hotel Orchard and spent a full 3.5 days with the kids at various places of interests and beating the odds of having a good time despite the bad weather. As if that wasn’t enough, we checked into Empire Hotel a day after Christmas (used up a gift voucher) and spent a full day at the Waterfall where my kids together with their cousins had a splash at the inviting pool. Some of us walked over to the main lobby for the Afternoon Tea.

© Jan Shim Photography

empire-1.jpg empire-6.jpg

Always a breathtaking vantage point from ground level overlooking the pool facilities and South China Sea. One of many sweet servings whose name I don’t even know.


Sunset glimpse of the main building

empire-4.jpg empire-3.jpg
Had a quick tour of the Country Club and came across this unoccupied spa. Entrance to Pantai restaurant.


Delicious home-made cheese cake by sister-in-law Wan and personally delivered to the hotel too!

We had other family members join us for dinner @ Li Gong Restaurant where we had the B$25.00 nett per head all you can eat menu—65 dishes to choose from :-O! There were so many of us that we occupied two tables and needed two buggies to take us to the main building after wards.

Related links

Brunei Darussalam


You can change the world–Do The (RED) Thing! goes GAP’s campaign as global partner of (PRODUCT) RED. Half of profits from (GAP) RED sales go to the Global Fund to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. More info here.

This isn’t charity; it’s a new way of doing business.
How we do business is as important as what we do. Gap (PRODUCT) REDTM takes what we do best—creating great products that people love—and channels it into positive change. In addition to sharing profits from Gap (PRODUCT) RED with the Global Fund, we’re also investing in Africa by making some of our products there. – GAP Inc. 

© Jan Shim Photography

WHAT IS (PRODUCT) RED?  (RED)TM was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise awareness and money for the Global Fund by teaming with iconic brands to create (PRODUCT) RED branded products.

© Jan Shim Photography

On Dec 21, I walked into a GAP store on Orchard Road and walked out with this piece to support the cause. Besides the other red store that I frequent, I’ve recently added GAP clothing to my radar.

© Jan Shim Photography

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! The photography industry is an excellent platform to raise awareness of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign. I hope to one day have an opportunity to work with the (RED)TM organization in their perpectual drive to treat/eliminate AIDS not just in Africa but also around the world.


More information: JOINRED.COM | (BLOG)RED

Other SHIMworld Charity interests: