In the age of Instagram, the most popular accounts determine a certain look that attracts an audience. The audience comes to expect that look, and often the success of the account depends on maintaining it. Despite that, what the best influencers realize is that in order to stay fresh and keep their creativity flowing, they have to force themselves to try new things. That’s exactly what Sony Alpha Imaging Collective member Andy To (@andyto) did on the most recent Alpha Collective trip to Australia when he decided to try several new things for the first time, including embracing a lens (the Sony 90mm macro) he had never used before as his primary tool on the trip.
“I just wanted to challenge myself to create, to venture off into the unknown world of gear and challenge myself to try something new,” said To.
He decided to try out the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens throughout the trip, what he calls a unique lens that doesn’t get a lot of spotlight. “I just wanted to get a little weird and try something else outside of my comfort zone. I had so much fun doing it. When photography starts to feel more like a job, it’s good to relight that spark to make things fun again. I constantly find myself doing that. Whether it be trying new gear, learning about new software or just watching YouTube videos to learn something new.”
The group had a chance to go on an excursion to the outback, fulfilling a lifelong dream for To and adding another “first” to his list. Having watched animal shows growing up, being able to document the outback in person was surreal for him. It was also the perfect opportunity for To to use the 90mm Macro to capture those close details that are easily overlooked by the naked eye.
“I've been really intrigued by National Geographic and Animal Planet since I was a kid,” said To. “I remember I used to sneak over to my neighbor's house because I didn't have cable and we would watch Animal Planet and the Crocodile Hunter. So for me to get the opportunity to go to Australia with Sony and for them to provide that outback excursion really gave me those Steve Irwin vibes. I was so excited to not only go, but to document on film some of the things that we got to see and experience. The 90mm Macro took images that come to life. You feel like you’re up close and personal with these tiny ants that have so much detail and beauty to them.”
In addition to those close-up shots, To managed to capture some from high up as well – really high up – as he checked yet another “first” off the list.
“It was my first time going in a hot air balloon, so it was definitely a standout moment for me on a personal level,” said To. “What made the ride so special was the fact that you could see kangaroos running in the wild. To me, that was such an iconic, Australia visual that I've always had a preconception of just from watching films. To be able to document that and see it with my own eyes was such a cool experience for my first hot air balloon ride.”
To wants other artists, especially those just starting out, to not be afraid to challenge themselves by trying something different for the first time. It can be difficult if you’ve just found your thing because you feel obligated to stick with it for your audience, so trying something new takes more time. At the end of the day, To thinks it’s still worth it to invest in new things because they will eventually lead to more opportunities.
“If I'm feeling uninspired, sometimes just dabbling with a new piece of gear can reignite my motivation and desire to create,” said To. “Just knowing that there’s always the opportunity to try new things makes me excited about the future. There's so many more new things to do, new people to meet, new things to try.”