It was common for people who had a difficult life to complain that they never had a chance because they were born into an underprivileged family and never had the opportunity to receive higher education. However, Keda Z Feng is a shining example of what it means by rising above poverty and family limitations to attain amazing success by being creative and thinking out of the box. In an interview with Top 10 of Malaysia, the talented master of photography shares his journey in establishing his company, Amazing Baby Studio.
Keda Z Feng (Keda.z) has always been known to be artistic. In school, his art teacher recognised his talent from a young age, and selected him to join art competitions when he was 9 years old in primary school.
“From those competitions, I developed a mindset for success. In my adult life, I believed that building a career is also a competition to learn more about myself, especially my strengths and weaknesses,” says Keda.z.
Coming from an underprivileged background, he went to work after finishing high school to help support his family. He did not have the money to pursue higher education. However, he loved to be involved in creativity, hence he chose to enter the creativity industry. He had learnt music when he was a child and decided to work in cafes as a performer.
Then, his friend opened a photography studio and invited Keda.z to work for him. It was something totally new for him. He had to learn how to use a camera, but when he discovered that the camera could produce beautiful images in a short time, he was hooked on it for life. In fact, he learnt how to use a camera to shoot captivating photos in 3 months.
“I didn’t have a higher education certificate, but I never gave up. I took up self-learning by taking photography courses online. In 2011, I achieved the Fellow level in the Master Photographers Association (United Kingdom), the highest qualification within the Association. The award is conferred for excellence in photographic technique and interpretation,” says Keda.z.
Photography enabled Keda.z to take creative expression and interpretation to a higher level. He loved what he did. As a result, he has been recognised with numerous international and local awards.
Keda.z took the leap to start his own company in 2012 with his wife, Kelly Ng. He started very modestly, operating out of a small room in his grandmother’s house.
“During that time, I started my company with an artist’s mindset and named the company after myself. I had one laptop and built a website to reach potential clients. I had borrowed money from my family and relatives and was determined to pay them back. Finances were tight, so I didn’t have money to buy a camera,” says Keda.z.
“However, before I started my company, I had spent a lot of time building up my personal branding from 2006 to 2011. My strategy was to establish myself in the market before striking out on my own. It worked. My personal branding was strong enough for Canon Malaysia to notice me and they sponsored my camera and gear,” he recalls.
Because his target market was not only confined to Malaysia, Keda.z did not set up a physical shop. He aimed for the global market. He operated through his website and social media, which at the time was Facebook.
Keda.z worked alone, because he still had an artist’s mindset, but he eventuallly realised that he had to evolve to become a successful international entrepreneur.
In 2014, he tried to build a team under another company called, Amazing Group. He started teaching photography professionally and his students were very appreciative. Keda.z noticed a trend – his students had the necessary skills and knowledge but they stopped at that. He taught them to achieve the next level by teaching them how to use their skills for business in the open market. From 2014 to 2018, he built teams in China, Malaysia and Australia.
“We serve more than 50 countries and over 100 cities worldwide,” says Keda.z.
To date, Keda.z offers a range of sold out seminars, master classes and workshops worldwide to an ever-growing fan base eager to learn from him and be inspired by his success and positive attitude.
In 2017, Keda.z decided to branch out into a new area to create more happiness in society, by setting up the Amazing Baby Studio. Furthermore, he decided to come back to Kuala Lumpur to set up his first gallery and studio here in 2018. Previously, he only spent 2 to 3 months a year in Malaysia.
The Amazing Baby studio helps people to create priceless memories with their family that they can look back with fondness in the future. With the studio’s expertise, the experience can be enhanced to make it better.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, photographers and their studios could not operate, so Keda.z went back to the drawing board to figure out how to operate the business online.
“Before the pandemic, all our services were offline. Then, we realised we couldn’t serve our customers face-to-face. We had to change our business model. In the months of March and April in 2020, I did a lot of research. I took online courses on business and marketing. I realised that photography was a professional service, but the value we provided was in the form of happiness and creating valuable memories,” he explains.
“We created a new product called the Time Machine, to bring the studio to the home. It was a very innovative product at the time. Our product was delivered to our customers in a box with an instruction manual. We taught our customers how to use their smartphones to take their family photos, then upload their photos to our system. Our artificial intelligence system will then help with the post-processing to enhance their photos to achieve a professional studio quality outcome,” he adds.
The Time Machine was so well received that it contributed half the revenue of the company during the pandemic.
“The pandemic changed everything. I had to unlearn and relearn to keep moving forward. We must be prepared to do that. Besides that, I always want to surround myself with people who are smarter and better than me, so that I can learn from them and improve myself. The networking is important for growth,” says Keda.z.
Keda.z’s achievements in the photography industry is exceptional, especially for a Malaysian. He won over 350 awards in Asia and also internationally. He travelled over five continents to nearly 100 cities in over 50 countries worldwide. He created countless masterpieces for people and is a lecturer and mentor. In 2019, he was the only photographer in history who was awarded as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Young Malaysians. He was nominated by his mentor, Dato’ Dr Calvin Khiu for the award. In the same year, he was awarded the World Most Outstanding Photographic Art Celebrity and Grand Master Award.
He has experience of fifteen years in the photography and art industry. “I’ve been teaching for eight years since 2012 and have educated 10,000 professional photography students in over 50 countries,” says Keda.z.
“I also embrace Corporate Social Responsibility in my business aligning with my belief that everyone deserves opportunities to fulfill their potentials,” he says. “I would waive the fees for disabled and orphans who participate in my classes.”
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, he continued to study photography art. After ten years from his first Fellowship from UK, he passed the assessment again in 2021 and was awarded the second Fellowship of British Institute of Professional Photography.”
In the next 10 years, Keda.z hopes that his company can become the number one franchise company in the creative and visual industry in the world, to bring more happiness into people’s lives.
Despite being an ambitious person, Keda.z prioritises his family. “I prefer the term “work-life-harmony” instead of “work-life-balance”, he says. “It is often difficult to spend equal time in every area of our lives but it is good to spend time whenever we could with our loved ones and this will bring us happiness.”
“If you are interested to start a business, do not be hesitant and just get started. You will face disappointments and failures but the difficulties you encounter will be a learning experience,” he advises.