FAQ

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Q: How did you first become interested in photography? Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced inspired you to pick up a camera?

- From The Leica Camera Blog Interview

A: I grew up in Hong Kong and was fascinated by the war photographs that were displayed in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, where my parents were members. The images from Vietnam sparked my curiosity, which then lead me to research deeper into war photography, where I found books on Chechnya, Beirut, Kosovo, etc. I have had several mentors along the way who have helped me move from one level to the next and for this I am grateful. I was kind of forced into photography as a profession early on when one of my mentors, an AP photographer called Hugh van Es, told me to take up an internship at our local newspaper in Hong Kong. I had taken a few frames beforehand during class trips, but nothing serious. Being thrown into the deep end and being forced to work right away was great. There is no other way to know if something is for you until you do it full-time. I felt it was like boot camp for photography, filled with many exercises that were repetitive and not very fun. After leaving the newspaper I went back to university with much more discipline, which let me focus on learning more about art and photo history.

 

Q: Photographers often go into combat zones or on humanitarian missions and show what is happening to the people involved. Do you think photography can change the world? Make a difference in the subjects’ lives?

- From The Leica Camera Blog Interview

 

A: I am not sure if photography can change the world or help the subjects lives. I believe in recording history, because if I don’t, who is to say it really happened.

 

Q: What best prepared you for working abroad?

- from NPPA the voice of visual journalists

A: “This questions a bit hard to answer, because I have been living abroad all of my life. 22 years in Hong Kong, 3 years in Toronto and now Nairobi. I include Toronto as living abroad, because I am originally Swiss, and to live in North America was very foreign for me. But I think it helps that Hong Kong was my teaching ground. Maybe the advice I cangive is to look for countries where one of the languages is one you speak. It’s obviously always easier to live in a foreign place without having to deal with not understanding anything. This was the case for me in Hong Kong, as well as now in Kenya.”

 

Q: Who were you influences and who do you lean on now for support or advice/wisdom?

- from NPPA the voice of visual journalists

A: “My influences first and foremost are my parents. I used to listen to their exciting stories of traveling the world and living in places like Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Egypt. So I guess I am searching for something in the same way my parents did. My support system is very strong and I think to truly work well and independently out of places like Kenya you need that. My gallery in Toronto as well as clients, researchers and agents are my safety net and I am very grateful to all of them for the work they do. I try to have a strong network of industry people who I will ask for advice (never be too scared to ask!). Some help with my editing/deciphering the photographs in my stories; others give me advice about the countries I am about to work in. I think it’s always good to find one or two very experienced photo editors who you can go to for advice and mentoring. Workshops are always great, but it should not end there. Why not be your own workshop with your mentor and discuss and analyze the work you are doing right now.”

Q: How would you describe your ordinary day?

- from NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

A: Depends where I am, what time I wake up. In Egypt it didn’t matter when you woke up, the Egyptians didn’t do anything with their mornings anyway, they are super slow but they will be up until 3am. I kind of liked that system - you didn’t have to worry, you just had to be there at like noon, that’s when they kind of wake up. If you’re working in Sudan you have to be up at 5am. So you get up, I always carry Vitamin C dissolvable, it’s just one of those things I have to have with me and I get crazy if I don’t have it with me. Then you go out, and I do a bit of warm up shooting, to get me awake and to get my eyes ready. Then you just go shoot. Sit in the back of a pick up truck and drive somewhere and follow the story, wherever you think the story is

Q: What gear do you use?

A: I use two Leica M-240 and a Leica Q with a fixed 28mm lens. My other lenses for the M systems are 35mm, 50mm and a 135mm.