The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Justin Lim
DateDecember 19, 2016
Photographer: Justin Lim
Location: I’m based out of my studio The Kandid in Hong Kong, but travel frequently to Bangkok, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.
Style: I started out shooting landscapes on film around 20 years ago, and since then my style has evolved around the corporate fashion gigs, lifestyle briefs and wedding shoots that I do. But I still love the simplicity of still life or a candid portrait.
Equipment: I own about 40 cameras, but I only use 3 commercially. For commercial briefs I typically use a combination of Nikon and Profoto. For my own projects, I am wedded to the Fuji-X system and my collection of Leicas. Editing is usually done on PhotoShop or Lightroom, although I enjoy VSCO for my Instagram feed. I own a number of rare quirky lenses, like a Foca Oplarex and a hand-crafted Sonnetar from Osaka – both are very close to my heart and are great talking points.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I was lucky enough to shoot food and lingerie (not simultaneously!) for my first commercial brief in Hong Kong. Artistically, I began to develop before then, whilst at boarding school and then law school in England in the late 90s. I also remember shooting backstage at the first ever Clockenflap very early into my pro career, which was featured extensively in Kee Magazine.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
Tenacity is important. There is a certain level of control-freakery when it comes to combining all the elements of a good photo, particularly when you are working with a model or live subject.
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
There are quite a few. I suppose that comes with a 20-year backlog of photos! But I do remember a photo that did well on social media (Flickr), it was a medium format “selfie” I shot with some “front bokeh” outside a HK shopfront. I also enjoyed both of my trips to Iceland, although it’s hard to narrow it down to just one shot. I guess if I had to, I would pick another medium format shot of a girl standing on a glacier by herself, with an off road vehicle in the distance. I also distinctly remember a shot I did of a wedding couple in Thailand, which was memorable for the spectacular setting of a 200-year-old ancestral home.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
500px is a great source of inspiration. I’m always learning from them, and was fortunate enough to be a guest editor there earlier this year. Closer to home, I enjoy any kind of heritage architecture or brutalism.
“Don’t be afraid to advance a strong viewpoint. Be creative, but be original. Nobody really needs to see the same building from the same angle 20 times.”
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
In the early days of my photography career I ran with a few of the HK Flickr Crew, like Lincoln Chan, Jonathan Van Smit and Christian Were, who continue to take great photos today. I also credit Lester Lim (no relation) for giving me a shot of business sense in my transition from enthusiast to pro level photographer. And of course, founder of 500px Evgeny Tchebotarev for making me push harder.
Tell us three photography tips.
1. Composition – use negative space and edges to your advantage
2. Viewpoints – don’t be afraid to advance a strong viewpoint. Be creative, but be original. Nobody really needs to see the same building from the same angle 20 times.
3. Respect – as an ex-lawyer, I suppose I do tend to respect property and people’s rights.
Finish the sentence…
If I weren’t afraid I would… drop the studio keys and head out to Bali for a year.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if… it had not been for the support of so many on social media, not to mention my family.
I’ve been listening to… Blur, Miike Snow, Mark Lanegan, Alice in Chains.
Kids these days… are very clever, way more savvy than me. I always feel like the old man of Instagram.
I look and feel my best when… I’m suited in something bespoke by Il Sarto, finished off with some Loakes.
When no one is looking I… eat cheese in bed.
Traveling… broadens the mind and expands the palate.
I respect… Anton Corbijn.