James Leung is a very talented photographer who works in London (UK) and New York City (USA).
He grew up during the 80’s in Soho, New York City. The area was a growing art scene. Makeshift art galleries appeared in old warehouses and his dad owned one of them. James studied in London, so he can get a chance to travel Europe. The drinking age is 18 there, exams were left to the end of the year, and English girls loved the American accent. They called James “the American” and asked him questions like “Why aren’t you fat?”. What did happen next? James is going to tell us in the interview.
AP: How did you get started in photography? Was there someone or something that influenced your work or inspired you?
JL: My girlfriend used to hate having her photo taken. She would scream ”Delete! Deleeeete!” at the camera display. This all changed when I picked up my first SLR, Canon Rebel Xsi (Canon 450D in Europe) along with the humble but amazing 50mm f1.8 lens. With the photos captured through this lens, she could see the beauty I see in her.
My wedding photography started after producing an album as a wedding gift to my French friend, who I thought was gay. I pointed my camera at the chapel door expecting his secret guy lover to burst through yelling “Stop!” So it was ironic to find out from the maid of honour speech that the family had thought I was that secret lover.
The bride wrote in the thank you card, that she felt I was like family and that I made them laugh.
They loved how the album reflected them so well and captured all the right moments. Getting to know the couple and their family circle became the recipe to capture the most intimate and rewarding wedding photographs.
For inspiration I visit www.strobist.com. This blog started as journal for a newspaper photographer. He usually has just 5 minutes to interview and produce cover page photos from his subjects. It is now great reference guide to lighting.
AP: What genre are your works? Can your works be characterized as unique and unusual?
JL: I use a photojournalist approach to weddings. More than just documenting an event, I aim to capture their beauty and that warm fuzzy feeling the couple has for each other, so they can rekindle those emotions when they see the photos again. Learning how they met is a good start in finding their connection.
Uniquely, most of the weddings I have photographed are multi-ethnic. Photographing weddings that cross-translate cultural traditions is like interpreting the Rosetta stone for the first time.
JL: I use two Canon 5D Mark IIs. One camera has the 35mm f1.4 lens for wide shots and the other has the 135mm f2 lens for zoomed in shots. Both of these lenses have the amazing ability to focus quickly in very low light. Photos look 3D because of their sharpness. With this combination of tools, I can capture people in candle lit rooms and “romantic” lighting.
Sometimes I use two flashes to create a stage lighting effect. I have a 580 Ex II flash on the camera and it also wirelessly triggers a 430 Ex II flash on a light stand. I process my photos in Lightroom and I produce my behind-the-scenes videos with Final Cut Pro.
AP: Do you have any achievements to tell us about?
JL: Having a perfect record of happy customers is my greatest achievement. Followed by a fan base on Facebook. I love their encouraging comments. Seeing my work being appreciated by the public drives me to do more. I was also featured in Zouknation.net, the largest website for Zouk, a Brazilian dance. They wrote about my first dance photographs for a Zouk instructor and her groom. It was also a privilege to be interviewed by Astrum People.
This year I photographed my first Indian Wedding, a very exclusive and rewarding experience.
AP: What is your professional goal?
JL: To do 6 overseas shoots per year. My other goal is to teach photography. I want to inspire others as the artists have done in my youth. My first photography workshop starts this October.
AP: Who or what is the essential part of your creativity?
JL: It is essential that my photos grab your attention and convey meaning that blows your mind. Look at the photo of Yiye and Andrew’s wedding. Yiye’s dad was handing his only daughter to a man who does not speak the same language, and in a country he has never been to. Yet, his firm hold of Yiye’s and Andrew’s hands together gave them his trust and blessing. For Andrew, this gave him the reassurance that fumbling with chopsticks at the dinner table will be OK.
Behind every good man is a great woman. Cherie, my girlfriend, is my second photographer. Her honest feedback gives me a woman’s perspective to photography.
My parents, who photographed us growing up, kept our family albums. The many great memories tie us together.
AP: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
JL: “Stop going on Ebay!” My girlfriend telling me to stop shopping [for more equipment] and start going out on shoots.
AP: Would you like to wish something to AstrumPeople?
JL: I wish AstrumPeople would have a presence in schools and museums. Inspiring the young to tap into their talents. Kids as young as 4 are winning awards at international photography competitions imagine what they could do at 20.
Photography by James Leung
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- Behind the Scenes with James Leung Pre-Wedding Video
- Behind the Scenes with James Leung Wedding Video
- Facebook Fan Site
- Main site
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