What do you shoot with?
I shoot with a second-hand Fuji XT1 mirrorless camera. Most of my portraits are captured with 56mm prime. Street shots are captured with 23mm (35mm equivalent).
For software, I use Capture 1 Pro, Snapseed on Mobile. UNIM to plan Instagram grids.
How did you learn photography?
When I started, I limited my gear to the Fuji mirrorless + 35mm and a tiny tripod stand. I shot with this for 8 months while on the road in Asia and produced around 12,000 shots. For the first month, I used auto settings on the camera. Then I learned about f-stop, shutter speed and ISO by watching videos. At the same time, I began learning how to encourage people to self-express and finding my way into unique, meaningful spaces. It wasn't until I got comfortable with the technical and social aspects of photography that I started developing an artistic editing style.
Where do you find inspiration?
I'm inspired by dramatic, vivid storytelling in film noir and East Asian cinema. I'm also drawn to dark corners of a city - the darkness brings out imagination and intimacy in people that I love to capture.
How do you make your photos so vivid?
Synesthesia makes me experience emotions in colours. Rather than following a specific palette for colour grading, I ask: what colour is this mood, this memory, this person? I treat every photo like a painting.
How do you find the places you shoot?
I'm always scouting when out and about. When I see something I like, I pin the coordinates and remember to come back at night. They are usually off-beat streets, interiors that carry an essence of the city I'm in. I look for distinct lighting and interesting history for inspiration. Shooting in other people's space is also one my favourite things to do because it requires a bit of social engineering.
How do you choose people you collaborate with?
I keep a list of people I like to work with - They are usually other artists on social media. For each person I try to imagine what will be a fitting narrative given their style and personality. As such, I usually prefer reaching out to people when I have an idea in mind. Although on the day of the shoot, it's equally about having a solid art direction while letting my team's collective creativity drive our collaboration.
I'm trying to get better at shooting portraits, what's your advice?
Learn to perceive whether a person in front of the camera is performing verses expressing. There is subtle shift in their facial expression, body language, way they move about when they are caught in a moment of authentic self-expression. Every human experiences bursts of expression, whether they are aware of it or not. As a people photographer, it's not only important to spot these moments and press the shutter, but also to use our identity as storytellers to ignite people's expressive side. I wrote more about this skill when I did a social experiment to shot portraits for people on dating apps, check it out!