Topaz Leung is a Hong Kong based photographer, snapshot & design fanatic. Her works, including travel, fashion, commercial and film stills, have appeared in numerous popular local magazines. Let's check out her most recent adventure with the Sprocket Rocket!
When and how did you become a Lomographer?
I became a Lomographer in 2011 during the first year of college. I bought the Actionsampler in Page One at Festival Walk, and began my Lomo journey. Then I submitted some of my actionsampler shots to a competition hosted by Lomography x G.O.D. and won a Lomography cameras (though I forgot which one…). That’s also how I met Arnault and Tian who first established the the Lomo Office in Hong Kong at that time and became an intern there in that summer.
Basically my work as an intern includes: taking the phone call, ordering A4 paper, water, photocopy, receiving the courier….but I was very happy to be working at the SOHO area (one of the hippest areas in Hong Kong). I bought the LC-A with my first month of salary, the value of the camera is much more than it costs! I took many great photos with it and by far my favorite camera still.
During my work there I learned so much about the Lomography products, as well as the culture of Lomo and snapshot. When i graduated in 2003, I became a designer at a magazine, but I still love snapping, developing and uploading to my LomoHome. That was an important period that really blossomed my love for photography.
Describe Sprocket Rocket with 5 words
Feels. Light. On. My. Hands.
Your Sprocket Rocket photos are amazing! Which photos are your favorite, and why?
I’d say the photos I took for my cat Miu Miu, these are the first b&w photos in her life!
If you have to select a soundtrack for your photos here, which 3 songs will you pick (song/artist)?
If you could take your Sprocket Rocket, unlimited rolls of film and a flight ticket, where would you go and why?
South America! It’s colorful over there and a lot of sunshine! Panorama will be best for the panoramic landscapes!
What is your most unforgettable, unexpected and painful photographic experience?
Some years ago I was working on an article in Iceland with the Holga and only realized the shutter was set to B by accident! I was devastated, wondering if I would ever return to Iceland in my life. The photos actually came out pretty nice…a little blurry, which matches well with the hot spring of Iceland. Those are still my favorite photos!
How do you handle your work as a film stills photographer (this always looks like a very masculine job to me)? How did you start this line of work?
It’s true that taking film stills requires a lot of energy in term of body and mind. I created a series called “Solitary Kills” with Heiward Mak for the City Magazine. Through Heiward I met the film director Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung, who was filming Love In A Puff at that time. Edmond asked me to do the film stills for him, many black and white photos were taken by the Lomography cameras, which were eventually compiled and published in a photo book.
Film making is a magical experience, but also extremely painful. There isn’t much time for resting. Pretty much shooting over night everyday. I also have to shuffle between different spots to shoot the film stills without interrupting the filming process such as the lighting. The film sets are always extremely warm or cold, and when you are carrying a gigantic camera with the silencer, as well as the point and shoot, Rolleiflex, lightmeter, tons of films in the pocket, all these require a lot of energy to carry around. The film circle is very small so one always gets the job through personal network.
After that I also shot the film stills for Merry-Go-RoundLike and another movie called “天馬行凶” (no english translation available yet). Each shooting was extremely painful but memorable.
How do people react when you shoot with your analogue equipments?
Usually they react by saying “You are so different!” or “Why would anyone still shoot films?” but also now some clients ask me to shoot with analogue or snapshot specifically. For example I shot a Levis ads in Singapore, they asked me to shoot specifically with the Lomography cameras, so I only brought my Lomo LC-A , several colorsplash flash and many rolls of films! The client liked my equipments, because they thought the true spirit of snapshot could not be reproduced by digital photography. Not that many clients out there could accept this kind of styles nowadays.
Can you share with us your favorite photographers?
I like Ryan McGinley a lot, his photos always show the wildness and randomness of the youth. He can see through the hearts of his subjects. I think that’s really pushing the boundary of snapshot photography. I also love Mark Borthwick for the overexposure or light-leaking in his photos, very provocative in commercial photography. Also some Hong Kong photographers such as Jimmy Ming Shum , Dustin Shum , as well as the famous pinhole photographer Martin Cheung ! Haha!
Your Lomographs are beautiful, can you share some tips with our Lomographers?
“Don’t think just shoot” is the ultimate rule. Keep practicing it until you connect with some levels of emotion and rhythm, because beautiful photos always rest upon real emotions.