The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Ruby Law
DateNovember 8, 2016
Photographer: Ruby Law
Location: I am based in Hong Kong now. The city is at the core of my being – my family, my cat, and friends are here. My favorite coffee shop is here. My favorite ice cream is here. My favorite spot in the world to shoot from is here. Being a freelance photographer can be isolating at times, and so being able to be around the ones I love gives me a great comfort.
Style: I am very inspired by photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Petra Collins and Cass Bird – and how they can capture a person’s spirit so perfectly in time – so I try to emulate that while mixing in my sensibilities which are very much influenced by Hong Kong and London, the two cities that I grew up in. I love shooting beautiful women with character. I hope the images I produce brings out that feeling in the people looking at them.
Equipment: I use a Sony a7rII, matches with manual lenses. Two of my favourite lenses I have are a Voigtlander 50mm 1.5, and a Leica 35mm 2.8. As a portrait photographer, Photoshop is always at my fingertips.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
I think building rapport with the subject is very important. They trust you and you are trusting them. It’s definitely an intimate relationship if only for a few hours. It doesn’t matter if your subject is a professional model or an ordinary person, you need to get to know the person and lead them to show you their inner self, and only by getting to know about their hopes, their dreams and even they fears do you then find the spirit to bring out in an image.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I started using Instagram four years ago when I was living in England – like most girls, I shared selfies and what I’m eating. After I came back to Hong Kong, about three years ago I met my boyfriend. He took me traveling around the world from Russia to Iceland, the U.S., Australia and a ton of places in between. I then started to share my landscape photos on Instagram, and from there I realized I wanted to make photography my career. So, late last year, I quit my digital marketing job and become a full-time photographer.
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot.
It has to the first sunset I saw in Isle of Skye – a photo I shot on my iPhone 5. In Summer 2015, my boyfriend and I went on a road trip in Scotland. We drove from Inverness to Isle of Sky. Somehow we got lost on the highlands and we drove in circles for 7 hours. We finally got to Isle of Skye and we had a huge fight. To calm ourselves down we then drove to the oldest pub on the Isle. It was this one magic hour, the sky was insanely beautiful – we stopped fighting and were speechless.
The beauty in the moment, the image it created and the emotions surrounding us – that will be the most memorable image I will probably ever take.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?Instagram. I am an Instagram nerd. I get inspiration from good photographers that I follow.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
Kit Chan has been a wonderful mentor and great friend. We were friends on Facebook for years, and I had always admired his work. Last year when I decided to become a photographer (I didn’t even have a professional camera, equipment or skills at that time) he welcomed me to his studio and let me use all the lights, tripods, flashes and lenses he had amassed over his career. He also shared his photography tips with me and let me join him on photo shoots.
Aside from every single lighting and photography trick I learned from him, he showed me how to be a selfless person and I will always be thankful for his help. I think finding a good mentor when you are starting out is very important, and can accelerate the learning process considerably if the mentor is willing to share his/her time.
“Never shoot without seeing and feeling. As a photographer, I always focus on my viewfinder and easily forget about enjoying the magical moment we are in.”
Tell us three photography tips.
1) Always be friends with the models. The only way to capture the real personality of a person is to get to know them. I spend more time talking to my models than taking pictures of them. Communication helps build trust between model and photographer, but also helps me to bring out the inner beauty of the model during a shoot.
2) Lighting is key. Photography is all about the combination of light and shadow. I often shoot in black and white when I do portrait photography, and develop color on Lightroom when I do editing. Black and white photos help me concentrate on lighting when I shoot.
3) Never shoot without seeing and feeling. As a photographer, I always focus on my viewfinder and easily forget about enjoying the magical moment we are in. You will never be able to create good images if you only think you want to take a “photo.” Before you press the shutter, give yourself a moment to look at the big picture; because good memories are worth more than just the photo.
Finish the sentence…
If I weren’t afraid I would… leave my life and just backpack around the world.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if… I didn’t quit my boring job and start chasing my dream.
I’ve been listening to… Chris Burkard’s TED Talk, and his words push me to go further – “In life, there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything that’s worth pursuing requires us to suffer just a little bit.”
Kids these days… need to see nature and the wilderness more often.
I look and feel my best when… I come out of a hot shower in a foreign country.
When no one is looking I… sing to myself.
Traveling… feeds me more than food.
I respect… young people who are passionate about the future of the city they live in.