Armed with loads of camera gear, a creative mind and a hard working mentality, Shawne Koh walks a journey that many admire but only a few dare to embark on.
Shawne, also known as, Shawneydepp, is a Singaporean travel content creator. He is one of the few who possesses the ability to draw out the beauty of each country he travels to and present them into stories that intrigue our adventurous minds.
For years, he has been telling the stories of the world through his lens and now it is time to share his. Here’s our interview with Shawne Koh.
Let’s take a tour back to the past. What were you doing before you took the plunge into the world of video content creation?
I was doing music. I had dreams of being a rockstar, a singer songwriter, and anything that’s got to do with music.
How did you end up doing travel content creation?
The first creator that got me inspired to create travel content was Devinsupertramp on Youtube. Back then he was shooting really amazing and cinematic videos of the world and I wanted to do that as well – to showcase the beauty of the world through my lens.
These days, many people have photography and videography skills. They also have similar dreams like you, wanting to make a living out of their passion. I’m sure many would love to know how you decide that this was what you wanted to do?
There wasn’t a definite moment for this. But I knew in my gut, that this was what I was meant to do, and I had something special to offer to the world. This was over a very long period of time of experimentation, working on my craft, embarrassing myself, and developing my style before I could feel confident.
Did your loved ones object to your decision to pursue your dream or were they very supportive of your decision?
I was doing freelance video work alongside Youtube to support myself financially, so it wasn’t that much of a plunge or risk. However at the start, my partner did question my desire to travel and create content consistently as that would definitely drain a lot of the finances, especially when I was kind of a nobody back then.
What were the challenges you faced when you first started? How did you overcome them?
It definitely took me a lot of time to figure out who I was, to work on my strengths and weaknesses, and to work on how I presented myself online. I’m not a natural in front of people or the camera, and there are dozens of awkward videos out there that I’m very embarrassed with haha. To overcome it, it just took years of practice, patience, reviewing and improving from one video to the next. I really wanted to be a better communicator both on and off camera.
You have traveled to several countries. Which one was the most memorable and why?
My solo trip to Finland was definitely one to remember. It was the first time I could experience fluffy white snow (which I had dreamt of all my life), I felt the complete freedom to create, and felt so empowered to just depend on myself to travel and experience the world.
On the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic definitely impacted your ability to travel and also your ability to earn. How did you get by during that difficult period?
Thankfully, I had a big job right before the Circuit Breaker (lockdown) in Singapore, so that helped immensely in covering the empty months. My income still took a hit overall, but it was enough to get by. I also started to produce local content, which in a way helped me to gain more local audiences.
Any learnings from the pandemic that you can share so that IF something similar hits in the future, you are prepared?
There’s always an opportunity in every crisis, a silver lining in every difficulty. I’m thankful to be in this industry of digital content creation, where the damage wasn’t so bad as compared to industries like F&B. But yes, always be ready to adapt and look HARD for opportunities when things get bad, even when the first instinct is to feel sucky about our circumstances.
How much are you paid for the work you do?
There are months with zero income, and there are 5 figure months. It’s a rollercoaster.
What advice would you give to people who want to embark on the same journey and why?
Trust your heart, and trust your gut. Don’t give in to fear and base your actions to that. Be patient, keep experimenting, keep adjusting, and enjoy the process. I’ve seen many who don’t pursue what they want just based on fear, society norms, or not seeing results. It hurts my guts. haha.
Can you share with us your “everyday carry” when you travel for a job?
I will have my travel backpack to store lenses and other gear, alongside my trusty camera sling bag for quick access to my camera and essentials.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/content creator you admire the most and why?
Casey Neistat. The way he sees the world, is just beyond fascinating.
Name one country that you can keep going back without feeling sick of it and why?
Japan. It has everything from culture, polite people, gorgeous scenery, to amazing food. Even in the same location, every season presents something different.
Have you ever regretted pursuing this passion of yours
Not a single ounce of regret.
Who should we interview next?