Flash Back Fridays with Elaine Li aka @lielaine

Author: Kristen McCloud / Photos: Elaine Li
08.31 / MB Series

It's that time of the week again, Flashback Fridays! We're reopening the conversation with different BISHes we have interviewed in the past; seeing how their attitudes and creativity have evolved over time. This Friday, we're catching up with photographer Elaine Li and learning more about her journey from Hong Kong to Sydney. See more below!

How has your work/professional life changed since we last spoke to you?
It sure has been a while. The biggest change for me is that I moved from Hong Kong to Sydney a few months ago.

What's the biggest difference you've seen in your industry?
I was at Cannes Lions this year, and every year there seems to be a theme for campaigns. Last year was refugee issues, and this year there have been a lot more conversations on women and gender issues. Thinking about this issue lately has been particularly interesting to me, because back when I was working in Hong Kong, we had an equal amount of female and male creatives at Ogilvy, so gender ratio wasn't really a thing we talked about. Whereas in Australia (or Sydney), it still feels like a very male-dominated industry.

How has getting yourself or your work seen changed? Any changes in how you market yourself or your brand?
As someone working in the ad industry, you have to know the local culture well to create work that is relevant and impactful to people. Australia is a completely different market, and for me, it's been a few months of learning and diving into the local culture. The working culture and way of working are quite different too - so I'm adapting to change.

As a content creator, it's been a process of establishing a presence in the Australian market - things like reaching out to influencer marketers, contacting local brands and sharing my portfolio. There have also been a lot of changes on Instagram as a platform, with algorithm changes and the launch of IGTV. Just posting photography work isn't enough for people to see your work, so I've also been thinking of different ways to engage with followers, like sharing my travel itineraries and collaborating with other artists like illustrators and calligraphers.

Anything that you know now that you wish you had known then? What's the biggest lesson you've learned?
I do wish that I understood Australian culture and humor earlier on, but I think it's something one has to experience to be able to understand. It's not something you can pick up from textbooks or google searches. In Australia, a lot of the ideas are more conceptual, whereas in Hong Kong most are quite execution-based.

Where do you see your future going?
I see myself working in Australia for at least a few years, hopefully, I will create some impactful and award-winning campaigns, then return back to Asia (perhaps Shanghai or Singapore). Being in Asia is just a lot easier when it comes to traveling.

What advice do you have for others when handling things not going as planned or adapting to changes?
Just go with it. I think most people are not comfortable with change, and there are definitely challenges and barriers. But that's just how life is. Embrace the change, and think about what you can do to adapt.

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