Photojournalists Annice Lyn and Hidayatullah Share Tips on Getting the Best Raya Portraits

Because Raya only comes by once a year, and you’d want pics for proof of a festive season done right.

Can you believe that the festive season is fast approaching? With less than a week to prepare for the big day, we spoke to two top photographers in Malaysia to get the scoop on how to capture all the important moments to make your Raya photoshoot Instagram-ready. 

Photographers Hidayatullah (@muhdhidayatullah on Instagram) and Annice Lyn (@annicelyn on Instagram) are no aliens to the enthusiasts on that side of the biz. In fact, they are highly skilled individuals in their own right. 

Hidayatullah is huge in the humanitarian photography world, embarking on multiple expeditions to capture and tell extraordinary stories across the world. The architecture graduate takes his sharp eye for composition and appreciation for perspective along for the ride, and this has resulted in many compelling visuals. His work has taken him to India, Japan, and beyond, where he snaps visuals of raw human experiences. 

Annice Lyn, on the other hand, aside from co-founding Women Photographers Malaysia, is a much sought-after sports photographer. She has photographed many an Olympic event between the years 2018 to 2022. Similar to Hidayatullah, she also has architectural training up her sleeves. Beyond lensing photos for local titles, she has also gone on to immortalise her work at the New York Times, TIME magazine, as well as National Geographic. Over the years, this figure-skater-turned-photojournalist has racked up quite a long list of accolades. 

With their experiences snapping fleeting moments, we spoke to them to get their insights on ways to eternalise Raya memories with the family. Read on to get their tips on photographing your Raya celebrations. 

What is a common mistake you find when amateurs take photos, and what’s your tip to correct it?

Annice Lyn (AL): Overcrowding the frame is common, so encourage simplifying compositions and focusing on the main subject, using the rule of thirds to guide framing; a pro tip would be enabling grid lines from your iPhone camera. Get familiar with the basics and let the moments and magic happen by capturing them.

Hidayatullah (H): Some common mistakes include having cluttered backgrounds, missing out limbs or heads, and not paying attention to everyone’s expressions. To correct these, ensure everyone is fully in the frame, choose a clean background, and encourage natural, relaxed expressions.

Say you have a family member who’s shy or is not as keen on getting photographed. What’s your tip to get them to join in on the family fun?

AL: Respect their boundaries and offer them a role in the process, like assisting with setting up shots or suggesting ideas, making them feel comfortable and valued; have your camera or phone ready to capture the in-between moments as you communicate with them.

H: To encourage a shy family member to join in on the fun, try to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. You can involve them in the planning process or assign them a specific role during the photo shoot, such as directing or assisting with props.

Lighting conditions at home are not always the best for photography. What’s a trick you have up your sleeve to elevate the shot? 

AL: Utilise natural light from windows and doors, and use reflective surfaces like white walls or boards to bounce light onto the subject and soften shadows, while avoiding backlights; suggest positioning the family on the front porch or in a nearby garden with lush greenery to enhance the lighting conditions. 

H: To elevate a shot in less-than-ideal lighting conditions at home, try using additional light sources like lamps to create a warm ambience or shoot near a window for natural light.

iPhone users have access to the adjust mode in the edit section. What dials should we play around with to get a dynamic photo?

AL: Experiment with exposure, contrast, highlights, and shadows to balance the image, and adjust saturation and vibrance for pleasing colours without overdoing it; all of which can be done in the native editing tools in iPhone, as well as using Photographic Styles to enhance your visuals.

H: On iPhone 15, you can play around with settings such as exposure, contrast, highlights, and shadows to enhance your photos. Experimenting with these settings can help you achieve a more dynamic and visually appealing photo.

What are some quintessential shots you think our readers should explore this Raya? 

AL: The best tool for capturing moments is in the palm of your hand. With iPhone, using Portrait mode, explore more intimate and closer shots, emphasising family and friends bonding moments, traditional rituals like breaking fast or preparing special dishes, and capturing the vibrant colours and decorations associated with Raya festivities.

H: Some quintessential shots to explore this Raya include capturing the preparation of traditional dishes, the exchange of gifts and greetings, the wearing of traditional attire, and the gathering of family members for prayers or meals. These shots can help capture the essence of Hari Raya and create lasting memories.