G K Lee is a New York based fashion photographer who's breathtaking sharp photos look like they live in a utopian universe. Working with model, Jessica Witkowski and the Lomo'Instant Square Glass. And to top it all, we also gave him the Wide-Angle Glass Lens Attachment. After seeing his wonderful results, we sat G K Lee down to discuss his photos and current work.
Welcome back to the magazine, tell us what have you been up to since we last saw your work?
Thank you! It’s great to be back. The past year has been quite an adventure – I resigned from the ad agency I was with and re-directed my focus to my own creative pursuits. Recently, my closest friend and I started a company called Varamode to collaborate on crafting high-touch content and experiences for brands. It’s very early on, so the process is still a bit intimidating and nerve-wracking. Nevertheless, very fulfilling. We’ve just finished construction on our studio; it was a huge milestone for us. We now have a dedicated space in which to work through ideas and immerse ourselves in inspiration.
Your work has amazing callbacks to classic covers of VOGUE, who or what influences you?
That’s something that is always shifting. I’m very affected by the environment I find myself in, and I also tend to draw inspiration from art, literature and nature. Most recently, I’ve been heavily influenced by the Hellenistic period and the writings of Haruki Murakami.
Working in fashion and beauty, what excites you about those subjects?
Growing up, art and fashion were very much a part of my household culture. My father spent his entire career in advertising and my mother designed childrenswear. Although the entirety of my professional life has been centered around these industries, I fell into it completely by accident. My first job out of university was a producer role at a small digital agency. We only had fashion brands for clients and it was there that I truly fell in love with the work. It’s such an exciting industry to be a part of – there’s a constant drive to create something new; to evolve something old in a way that is relevant for today. It’s also an industry where the tiniest of visual minutia can shape the story and meaning of the work. This is the type of environment in which my somewhat-obsessive compulsive personality thrives in.
You kind of stripped back a bit on this shoot working with the Lomo'Instant Square Glass, what was your approach?
I initially had something completely different planned for this, but at last minute, the weather turned and there just wasn’t enough natural light to pull it off. Thankfully Jessica Witkowski is amazing and was open to some experimentation around the studio. There was something very special about the mood that day, between the late hour and the turbulence just outside the windows. It was all a bit melancholic. I wanted to capture the vibe in a raw format; it simply would not coming across in the digitals beneath the bright, studio lights.
How was it working with the Lomo'Instant Square Glass, what did you like about it?
I love instant film. It’s a medium that I always try to have on me, especially when I’m on set. It’s a great tool for energizing the room—everyone loves to watch them develop. It’s a feeling that you really don’t get with digital. Instant gratification. I use the Instax Mini film a lot, as I’ve long since retired my old Polaroid cameras, but they never really felt the same. The Lomo’Instant Square was so refreshing—its size alone presents a lot more options in terms of composition and framing. I especially love that it has a remote, as it allows me to set up the camera on a tripod and fire away as I’m shooting with something else. It enables me to capture the unexpected.
Working with something as gratifying as instant photography, what challenges did that present to you?
It’s always hard to work with a camera that you have not yet familiarized yourself with. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t realize it was out of film and completely missed the moment. So embarrassing! Hopefully as I work with the Lomo’Instant Square Glass a bit more, I’ll be able to utilize it in ways that I haven’t thought of yet.
What do you love about photography, what keeps you returning to that medium?
I don’t think I have the words to accurately express all of the things that I love about the medium, but one of the things I enjoy the most is the challenge of figuring out how to tell a complete narrative within a single frame.
How do you think you define yourself amongst the over saturation of photography and media with platforms such as Instagram?
I find social media to be both the most wonderful thing as well as the most horrific. It connects us and creates an audience for creativity that never existed before, but at the same time pushes us to rigidly define our sense of self-identity. I try not to fall into this trap, because I feel that we are constantly changed and shaped by our interactions with the world around us. I love the process of creation; coming up with an idea and bringing it to life. I want each thing that I create to be different in the sense that it reflects my own metamorphosis, whether in terms of thought or style or process or whatever.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
An evolution, I hope.