MunKeat has been nominated three times as one of the Top 10 Best Wedding Photographers in Malaysia between 2016 to 2020. He specializes in destination wedding, wedding day, fine art engagement portrait, kids, and travel photography. He uses a blend of digital and analogue for all his assignments.
Being an avid camera collector, owning more than 40 cameras, especially Leicas and medium format cameras, MunKeat utilizes a variety of formats to achieve perfection for his artworks and masterpieces. He travels extensively for assignments all over the world.
MunKeat was one of the first in Malaysia to get his hands on the new Leica M10-R. His reaction to the newest member of the Leica family: “The M10-R has the perfect blend of innovation and heritage. It was an easy transition for me to go from the M240 to the M10-R, as the form factor and the functionality are the same. The big step up is the amazing ISO performance. It works so well in low light conditions. The noise is well controlled. It’s a camera for all types of conditions and a wide range of photography.”
Lighten the Mood
Top wedding photographer MunKeat Ho uses natural light on assignment.
He combines light and shadow in street photography for his hobby.
He shares his art of light and experience with the Leica M10-R with us.
M10-R | LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24 f/1.4 ASPH. | F5.6 | 1/500 | ISO 800
Painting’s grand masters mixed colours on their palettes before applying the pigments to the canvas to create the illusion of light and shadow.
MunKeat, a lover of fine art, remembers Rembrandt – the 17th century Dutch virtuoso painter and his expert use of chiaroscuro – when on assignment.
MunKeat loves to use his Leica M10-R and “Rembrandt lighting” when photographing once-in-a-lifetime moments for his clients.
“It’s a lighting technique that’s used in portrait photography,” he explains. “We can learn a lot from great art of the past.
“I like the combination of the Leica M10-R and Rembrandt lighting. It’s capable of producing graceful images which appear natural. You only need a minimum of equipment. I’m free to shoot without complicated lighting.”
MunKeat exploits natural light through clever control of his aperture, angle of sunlight, and positioning of his subjects to create the desired effect: diffused light for romance, tenderness and intimacy; or strong contrasts of bright and dark for bold, dramatic statements.
It’s always about light. It’s how to interpret what impact light and shadow have on the final image. And, timing is important too.
“You need to understand light,” he adds.
“See where it’s coming from and how strong it is. Natural light changes, and it changes quickly. You need to think quickly. Then act quickly. If you don’t, a unique lighting condition and an outstanding photo opportunity could be lost. With experience and practice, it will become intuitive. You need to improvise very quickly on the spot.”
M10-R | LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24 f/1.4 ASPH. | F6.8 | 1/350 | ISO 100
What lens do you prefer with your M10-R to capture natural light for portraits?
“It’s usually a 50mm focal length. I prefer the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH. It’s with good reason it’s called the ‘Light Giant’.”
The Leica Noctilux-M is a masterpiece of optical engineering that brings photographers enormous creative freedom. It’s the world’s fastest aspherical lens for 35 mm photography and, when shooting in low light, reveals fine details that are hardly perceptible to the naked eye.
Pictures made with a Noctilux-M are characterised by the unmistakable bokeh of the lens and a visual quality that verges on impressionism.
M10-R | LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24 f/1.4 ASPH. | F1.4 | 1/750 | ISO 800
How did you get started in photography?
“It’s in my blood – literally,” MunKeat says.
“My grandfather and my father ran one of the oldest photo studios in Ipoh. My siblings were all avid photographers. You could say that photography was in my DNA.”
It comes as a surprise that MunKeat was a late bloomer. He picked up the camera professionally relatively late. He was a mechanical engineer for six years.
Finally following in the family tradition with a career in photography was a good decision. MunKeat was nominated twice as one of the “Top 10 Best Wedding Photographers in Malaysia”, in 2016 and 2017.
He specializes in destination weddings, the actual wedding day, fine art engagement portraits, kids’ portraits, and travel photography.
M10-R | LEICA NOCTILUX-M 75 f/1.25 ASPH | F1.3 | 1/3000 | ISO 100
He now runs a successful studio and manages a team of six professional photographers.
His style combines a background in photojournalism with his deep interest in fine arts. He is always looking to capture real moments in a natural and editorial style.
Growing up in the era of film and under the tutelage of his grandfather, MunKeat was influenced by the romanticism of analogue photography.
“For me, film is classic and timeless,” he reminisces.
“It brings a feeling of nostalgia, warmth, and an added sentimental value.”
Qualities clearly evident in his portfolio.
MunKeat never hesitates to go digital or analogue. Often on assignment, you can see him using both.
M10-R | LEICA NOCTILUX-M 75 f/1.25 ASPH | F1.3 | 1/3000 | ISO 100
MunKeat has reached the pinnacle of this profession. What does he do to relax?
He looks for more mountains to climb. And he takes his Leica cameras and lenses with him.
MunKeat explains: “I love to travel. One of my best photos trips was to the Himalayas. I enjoyed exploring Nepal. It allowed me to take a different kind of portrait from what I do for my work – candid portraits on the street of real life.
“I would look for unique scenes in Nepal, different lighting conditions, stronger, richer colours, and greater contrasts between light and shadow than I would for wedding photography.
“I would use a 35mm focal length. It’s a wider angle than my normal choice of 50 mm. It gives me great environmental portraits, providing better context of people in places. The 35 mm focal length was great for landscapes too.”
The LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH is a classic lens for reportage photography. It offers exceptional image performance and unique bokeh. Despite its high speed and impressive imaging quality, its dimensions are astoundingly compact. Together with this lens, every Leica M becomes an extremely compact and elegant photographic tool.
What advice does this commercially successful photographer have for those who are just starting out?
“I love art. I love visiting museums. That’s a good place to start. The great masters are a good source of inspiration. One generation of artists motivates the next generation, and contributes creative ideas and different styles.
“I was lucky that I had my grandfather and father as photographers and a studio environment.
“I have been fortunate in my photography career. I’ve been able to travel and see new things. That’s really helped with bringing fresh ideas to my shoots.
“I think that’s the best thing for any aspiring photographer: go and see new things, try new things. You need to keep coming up with new ideas.
“Try to experiment with light and shadow in our shots. Develop your own way of capturing light.
“Focus on creating enduring, expressive images.
“Success will come from the quality of your portfolio.”
Written by Kieron Long