Singaporean wedding photographer Annabel Law has overcome all odds to be where she is now. She has her own company Annabel Law Productions, but the journey hasn’t been easy for the 26-year-old.
She doesn’t have PSLE, O-Level or A-Level qualifications. Instead, she was educated through an American syllabus because she was home-schooled—a decision her parents made after she was diagnosed with hyperactivity, which made it hard for her to keep up with schoolwork and eventually led her to have suicidal thoughts. She said, “Missing out on going to secondary school and not even having that experience was something I used to desire.”
At 18, she experienced a turning point in her life: she found her passion in wedding photography while she was an intern to a professional photographer. She said, “My photography mentor Chong Jun Liang who works in The Straits Times taught me everything he knew about photography and has been my constant support all these years.”
Scroll through the gallery to read her full story.
“As I needed equipment to become a professional photographer, I borrowed $10,000 from my parents to pursue my dreams. Even though my dad was in between jobs at that time, he said ‘yes’ without any hesitation. My mum always reminded me that she believed in me no matter what the outcome would be. I worked hard and returned them all the money within a year. Due to the financial situation at home, my older sister gave up her dreams to go for an exchange programme so there would be financial stability for my future. My brother has always been my Number One fan. Till this day, I’m very grateful [to them].”
“When I was younger, I hated that I was different. I wanted to be in the crowd of people who could compare exam results and be proud of it. Being different means I got special attention. The teacher would call out my name because I was the last in class and could never focus in my studies. I would always get distracted and not be able to finish a sentence. When I was a teenager, insecurity crept in as I was labelled as ‘uneducated’ among my peers. When I started working at 18, I was like a child trying to grow up fast and I said things that were not tactful and learnt along the way. As I progressed into adulthood, I used my hyperactivity as a motivation. Hyperactive people have tons of energy and creativity and I used that to my advantage.”
One Battle After Another
“I have chronic dermatitis, also known as eczema. During my adolescence, my eczema was so bad that I could barely get out of bed. Every joint of my skin was plastered with bandages as the open wounds would never go away. I went to every single doctor and traditional Chinese medicine doctor hoping for a cure. Concerned aunties would shake their head in disgust and there were even strangers who used my illness to their advantage—they used my photos to sell MLM products without my knowledge or approval. Going through this stage in life and being a teenager who was already different made me a stronger person. I told myself to stop sympathising with myself, get up and be positive. It’s all about the mindset.”
“I have truly accepted myself for being real, learning that I cannot please everyone and being caring to the people who have been supportive all these years. I have also learnt to not be selfish and that family is most important.”
Too Young, Too Inexperienced?
“I started photography at a tender age of 18. Many couples who met me claimed I was too young to be a photographer for their wedding day. Once, a couple wrote on a forum that my work was good but I was just too young. That comment [made me cry] for a week. Photography is a male-dominated industry. I believe there are fewer than 30 professional female photographers in Singapore. These days, being a female photographer is more common but [it wasn’t like that] when I first started out. I was called names by other fellow photographers—a photographer [even] claimed I got jobs by seducing the grooms into hiring me. I was [also] asked to drink by a drunk guest at a wedding and it really scared me. I use my femininity to my advantage by setting up a team of female photographers to show that women can be as good wedding photographers as men.”
“Being a female photographer, I can listen to fellow women [talk] about their struggles, insecurities and relationships. They share that they feel fat or ugly and are insecure about how they look. I have the honour of taking a beautiful shot of them. It’s a third-party point of view. Every woman is beautiful, and my aim is to always find that beauty and capture it. Going for weddings is a part of me; I cannot imagine not being a photographer to experience the joy, laughter and happy tears.
As female photographers, we know that getting married is the most important day of your life. We act as a bridesmaid, counsellor, personal assistant and more. Besides focusing on the bride, we make sure that a wedding is about two families. Capturing the moment of every family member is vital to the story of the wedding. It’s our job as photographers to create moments instead of waiting for moments.”