Photography & latte art have been strolling hand in hand since the birth of the smart phone! And it's hardly surprising. Both baristas and photographers obsess of the same things - contrast, detail, balance...But probably the most important similarity is this: all the best photographers and all the best baristas know that you cannot save a mediocre effort by adding pretty patterns after the fact. The subject matter or substance must be excellent from the start. Rosetta Roastery team member, Pang Isaac, understands this concept from both sides of the fence. We chat to him about how his pursuit of excellence in coffee making has influenced excellence in his photography - and visa versa.
ROSETTA: Introduce yourself to us and tell us what you do at Rosetta / how long have you been working there?
PANG: My name is Pang Isaac, and I’ve been working for Rosetta for about three and a half years.
ROSETTA: What are some of the best things about being a part of the Rosetta team?
PANG: I think working with a small team like this helps you to learn fast — especially with Rob and Jono. The whole team knows what they want, and they work towards it. The small details — they want something, and they push. That inspires me to push as well. These guys don’t overlook anything. I tend to look at details and go, “it doesn’t matter,” but watching them — I’ve come to realise that everything, whatever you do, matters. It’s inspiring.
ROSETTA: It’s quite clear that you love photography too (quite the multi-hyphenate we see) — how long have you been taking photographs? How did that all start?
PANG: I’ve been doing photography for the past four years — more or less the same time that I started coffee. I was babysitting. The lady I was babysitting for was a wedding photographer who had a 5DMKI.
She said, “Pang, buy my old camera and see if you can use it." She saw I had a camera body, a horrible one. She had a 5DMKII and wanted to sell it to me, but then gave it away.
The 5DMKI was what I ended up with — the first classic, the That 12MP camera was the first camera I used for the last two and half years, and that’s how I got into photography. I’ve just kept on shooting since then.
ROSETTA: What are some of the similarities that you see between coffee and photography?
PANG: The love for people. It’s underrated. In coffee, community and relationships are essential. You stand by a coffee counter all day, and you don’t know who you’re going to meet. With photography, relationships matter as well. The more you can engage with people, the respect, the little things like asking, “how are you doing?” — people appreciate that.
People say, “I want to work with THAT photographer.” Not because he does the best work, but, because he’s great to be around.
In terms of focusing on the details; details are something that I never really looked at; sometimes, someone asks you, “What do you like?” and you’re like, “Ah, I’m not sure.”
But, when you know yourself, you have an idea of the details, you know what you want — I don’t like this, I like that — you end up not wasting time on things. I’ve learnt more about myself through working here and having to focus on the details. I now know what I like and what I don’t like.