From humble beginnings to winning moments
Mohd Lutfi started his journey sometime before 2010 with street photography which then expanded to landscape stills and later, wedding shoots.
“As time passed, I started to mingle around experienced photographers; telling them that I wanted to learn (more of) the basics. Since then, I learned so much and gained a lot more skills.”
With a better grasp of things and growing confidence, the 31 year old created PhotobyLutfi and actively worked in the wedding industry under one of the top photography companies in Brunei, White Room Studio.
After consistently building his portfolio, the idea then occurred to him to turn the hobby into a living and with the right nudge from a fellow photographer, opening his own company was in the works.
Mohd Lutfi started humble, covering smaller event shoots such as engagements, graduations, family portraits, and corporate gatherings.
“From these events I started to gain more knowledge of getting involved in larger events while communicating and managing clients, ensuring to produce exceptional work for them.”
“Ofcourse, there were ups and downs. But I took them in a positive manner, it was all a learning process,” he added.
Determination to continue
Years in the business inevitably came with ups and downs which affected him to the point of surrender.
Exhaustion proceeded with continuous events lined up throughout the years, leaving little to no rest for Mohd Lutfi and his team.
“I felt like giving it all up, but after careful consideration and remembering that I have a family to feed, bills and staff to pay, I had to persevere.”
“At the end of the day, the exhaustion is worth it knowing my clients are satisfied with our work. All I needed to do was manage my time better between work, rest, and spending time with my family.”
Mohd Lutfi shared that their schedules get so hectic with most events occurring every weekend, occasionally during weekdays with only one to two relaxing months in a year.
“That’s the time where we recharge, rest and finish any backlog editing. Other days, I would manage my time between work and leisure, encouraging my staff to do the same.”
Hundreds of photographs and video shoots also leave the team drained of inspiration.
“We are essentially shooting the same thing and to ensure our creative juices are always flowing, we look to other photographers for inspiration. Personally, I mostly take inspiration from regional photographers from Malaysia and Indonesia as well as the local community.”
Covid woes to silver linings
When Covid first hit the nation, many were affected by the challenges of adapting to new rules, regulations, movement limitations, and halted social events.
The wedding industry, in particular, experienced momentous change with canceled events and an unexpected halt of operations.
Thankfully TheLM.co team acted swiftly and sought advice from other wedding vendors.
“Initially we had no idea what to do but thanks to a few consultations within our community and numerous discussions, we had a solid plan in place.”
“No matter how hard the situation was, we tried to avoid cancellations and provided our clients alternatives. For unavoidable circumstances, we could only offer partial refunds as we too, needed to make a living,” adding that he was thankful their clients understood.
Photobook prints which the company sources from neighbouring country, Malaysia, were also affected by shipping delays.
“When restrictions were eased and weddings were allowed in very small groups, we were thankful that business could resume but also felt its challenges.”
Mohd Lutfi said that instead of a team of four, only two from each photography and videography division were allowed per event.
“Our team members had to be careful not to catch the virus and if any of them were required to isolate, we had to make sure there were people on standby to replace them.”
“At the same time, we felt an immense pressure lifted as shoot times were cut down to more than half and as venues were smaller, we focused only on the important shots - work was faster and therefore safer for both our clients and the team,” he added.
Despite the tough situation, Mohd Lutfi was thankful for the great teamwork and knew that if they could get past that, they could get through any other challenges that might come their way.
“All of us got to rest and take it easy, finishing pending workload and just spending more time
with our family. All in all, it turned into a rewarding experience.”
From two to twelve
TheLM.co started with only two members consisting of the founder Mohd Lutfi and partner Mohd Safwan and has since grown to a 12-member team including parttimers.
“Once things started to pick up, we knew it was time to expand,” shared Mohd Lutfi, offering job opportunities to youths of various ages and backgrounds.
“It was a goal since the beginning and I’m glad we were able to make it happen knowing how hard it is to find a job nowadays.”