Larry Toh

About Me

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I've been doing photography for almost 10 years now. Love black and white and occasionally colours. Got married. Worked on a nine to five job to bring home the dough. Then I got cancer and became a father. Now I'm taking that leap of faith to pursue my passion - photography. That's the short version. If you have more time, read on...

In a lifetime, there are some moments when time seems to slow down to allow the mind to process what is happening, whether good or bad. These are moments that can change the course of someone's life. I've been fortunate to have a few of them. 

One of the first for me was when I saw my first black and white image appear in print under the red light of the darkroom. I was amazed. It was better than magic. I was hooked. I would shoot only black and white for a few years. Now I shoot some of my work in colour because there is value in that. But black and white is part of me, much like what a seasoned trumpet is to a jazz musician, an old friend. 

I was told I have a rare cancer in 2012. You would think this would be the next life changing moment, but I did not have enough awareness at that point for it to be. I went thought surgery and radiation but quickly slipped back into the comfort of my life as it was. I thought for a moment that I was going to pursue photography full time but quickly dismissed it for fear of losing the stability I have at my job. 

The next life changing moment would be the birth of my daughter. She came out quiet and within a few seconds she let out the loudest cry I've ever heard from a child, let alone one so young. At that moment I knew our lives would never be the same again. It was going to be awesome! I thought parenting was about teaching a child, but the exact opposite is true. The child teaches you so much that you have forgotten. Hannah taught me to live my life in the moment, to take things a step at a time, to love, to be true to my emotions and to be brave and learn new things. Being her father is pure joy. Liling says sometimes when I look at Hannah, I look like I'm in love. I think she's right. 

The next moment would come one and a half years after Hannah's birth. My cancer relapsed in 2016 and this time it had spread to the lungs, which is not good news. I came home from work that day and Liling and I hugged each other and cried for the longest time. Doctors could not recommend any further treatment but were quick to put a number to my life expectancy. I started planning for my funeral in my head and even bought a book called "Duck, Death and the Tulip" to explain death to Hannah. It's a beautiful book. That was the period of grief. Acceptance would follow after that. We came to accept the cancer as part of our lives and once we had done that, we realised that life is far from over. I started living in the moment more. Everyday I'm thankful that I'm asymptomatic, that I'm able-bodied, able-minded and that I'm alive. We stopped making long term plans and started living life a step at a time. 

And all this would lead to the next moment, the day I left my job to do three things; take care of my health, be with my family and to do photography. I will not leave this life without pursuing photography. It's not the example I was to set for my daughter. I discovered this passion relatively late in my life. I hope Hannah finds hers earlier and when she does I hope she finds the guts to pursue it. 

So that's how I got to where I am today. It's a bit long for an "about" page but I thought it's only right that you get to know my story. I think I could have attempted to be a photographer earlier in my life but I would not be the photographer I am today. I'm more ready for it now than I've ever been and I'm having a great time learning and discovering myself. I'm taking it a step at a time

- To Liling, the love of my life, my rock, my wife. The first life changing moment was the day I met you. None of this would have been possible without you.

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