With a notebook in my hands and my camera in my bag, I set off to meet 34 years old Samuel Goh at his home in Hougang. Samuel is a banker turned professional videographer, who became a rebel in his early 30s, going against the objections of his family and friends.
Upon arriving at his place, Samuel helped me to set up a make-shift studio in his home for the interview – complete with professional lighting and other videography equipment (which all belonged to him). Samuel runs his own wedding and events videography business, which has been fairly successful.
Looking at the passion and professionalism in his work, one would not have imagine that just a few years before, Samuel had zero knowledge about the industry.
Videography was not something that Samuel had pictured himself doing in the past, and I caught up with Samuel to find out the challenges he faced in making this mid-life career switch.
In the early days of his career, Samuel had his eyes set on the banking industry and took on a position in a local bank. He would go on to spend the next few years as a banker, bringing home a comfortable paycheck for his family.
One day, Samuel bought a GoPro to capture his travel adventures and some family events, and found joy in piecing together special moments for a video. That alone however, was not a good enough reason to convince Samuel to give up the career that he has built thus far.
Having placed himself within the same industry for so many years, Samuel felt a desire to explore different opportunities and learn new skill sets. It was the same desire to explore the world beyond banking that drove him to dive into videography.
Having no prior experience and without owning a proper camera, it seemed illogical for such a hasty career switch. Many of his family and friends voiced their objections and concerns regarding his decision, but Samuel went ahead anyway.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions that he has made in his life.
With no proper training and experience, Samuel had to first build his foundations in videography. He spent months on the internet, learning from sites like YouTube and Google about the basics of videography. He also went out to do his own shoots, mostly learning from trial and error. This would go on for months while Samuel try to learn as much as he can on his own.
“I would just repeat the process, keep the good and cut out the bad”, Samuel explained to me the pains of learning from scratch.
Samuel would also join other videographers on their shoots and observe their shooting style – to learn and understand various aspects of videography hands on. Being a curious individual, Samuel would try to question and understand as much as he can from the “pros”.
As Samuel explains, learning and understanding videography techniques were basic, but it was not enough to sustain a business. With a lack of portfolio to showcase his work, he had to learn how to get himself in the market to potential clients. This included developing a business model, learning how to market himself as a videographer and his business, among the many aspects of a running a business.
“The initial stage was tough. I thought I was prepared to overcome the challenges, but it was more difficult than I had expected.”
Since making the switch to videography, everyday is a learning journey for Samuel. When asked about what keeps him going, he believes that his passion in the videography helps to sustain the fire.
Samuel has told me how others around him felt about his decision, but I wanted to hear about his own. With a smile on his face, Samuel confidently said that he has no regrets making this transition – though sometimes seeing his peers in the banking industry making advancements in their career do make him wonder about the “what ifs”.
“When I look at my camera as well as the end products that come from my creativity, the doubts go away and I am reminded of how lucky I am – to be able to do what I love and make a living out of it.”
Samuel proudly tells me about receiving his first pay check from a client – that it felt different and he even took a photo of it. After all, it’s certainly different from receiving a regular paycheck from your company.
Today, Samuel is a residential videographer in an education institution and the founder of Reel Film Production. While he explains that it is amazing that he has come so far, he is looking forward to learning even more and improving his skills each day.
Samuel has plans to produce a series of video regularly, and hopefully go international in the future. Whether it is shooting in the desert or high up on the mountains, Samuel says he is ready to take on more challenging assignments.
Before concluding the interview, I asked Samuel for his advice to other individuals out there who are looking for a career switch. While he believes that chasing your dreams and passion is important, it is imperative to have a logical assessment and think hard about the decision. Pursuing what you truly love is one thing, but making a living out of it is another.
“Am I ready for the challenges? How can I monetize my passion? How do I become the best in what I do? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself”, Samuel says.
“No matter what your choice is, make sure that you are committed and determined. Don’t be afraid to face challenges and eat the obstacles up like dinner.”