Titled “#legend100takes: A Reflection”, the second edition of #legendchats put the lens on photographers who have contributed to the #100takes feature of #legend magazine, namely Renee Neoh and Ruby Law
Held at Soho House Hong Kong on 20 March, the venue was peppered with full colour printouts from previous editions of #legend100takes. The drinks from sponsors Nespresso, Duppy Share, Fantinel, Soplica and Wine Cloud got the guests buzzing and chatty. But everyone was all ears when the #legendchats began in earnest.
#100takes is the magazine’s longstanding monthly photography project, which asks photographers to interpret a theme through 100 shots. Both guests have contributed to the project and recounted their efforts.
Law was given the theme of “travel” during the pandemic, a time when moving around was not really an option. “I went through my archives of photos to find something that fits the theme, which is quite interesting. Usually when I get an assignment from a magazine, I get to creating something. But I get to go back in time. When you are going through your phone, hard drives, and other forms of archives, it’s quite a personal journey to look at old things in a new light,” said Law.
Neoh was given was the theme “time” to coincide with a watch focused issue. She ended up taking pictures of different phones. “I went to Sham Shui Po and started shooting pictures of the old phones sold there by placing them on a white board,” recalled Neoh, who thought showcasing different phone models captured the passage of time perfectly, instead of an on-the-nose take on watches.
Though she was eventually turned away by vendors for not purchasing any of the phones, she moved on to various stalls and shops until she had enough for the project. “I did not purchase 100 phones for this,” Neoh said to great laughter from the audience.
As for Law, she does not mind spending money on projects she is passionate about. This led to a good chat on fun editorial projects versus the bread and butter of commercial work.
“Editorial is like a playground for photographers,” Neoh concurred. Both photographers spoke at length about the restrictions of commercial work. “Commercial clients may ask for something new and innovative but at the end of the day, they will stick with what they have seen you do before. Editorial is the chance to be creative and get your hands dirty so to speak,” Neoh added.
“Editorial shoots tend to be the work I’m proudest of and the ones I will upload to my Instagram. Those say more about me and who I am,” said Law.
The freedom that editorial endeavours like #legend100takes affords photographers is something that is cherished by them. After all, both started their journeys as a way to free themselves.
For Law, photography came from freeing herself from the shackles of the corporate world and taking pictures of her travels. The ball got rolling for her when she started posting her snaps on Instagram and Tumblr. Her business and marketing helped her build her footprint in the industry.
In Neoh’s case, the fashion design graduate found navigating the world from behind the lens to be a better way of connecting with people and freeing from her shyness.
Reflections aside, the conversation was also forward thinking. A lot of queries about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on photography was brought up.
Law has yet to work with AI but doesn’t rule out using it. She thinks it would be particularly useful for the storyboarding process, as it can give clients a more precise picture than say, mood boards from Pinterest. Neoh, too, thinks different types of AI could be a “useful tool” to expand one’s horizons during the brainstorming stage.
Law sees its potential but feels “photography the old way” will always have its allure. Part of it being the collaborative efforts from everyone else involved, be it the models, lighting or makeup department. There is also the chutzpah needed in certain areas like street photography that is missing.
“In real photography, you need courage to capture certain things. The effort to do that isn’t something that AI can produce.”