Creativity As Told By Lee Yik Keat

Creativity as told by Yik Keat-cover
Photography: Courtesy of Lee Yik Keat

Self-taught urban photographer Lee Yik Keat is only 23 years young — but he’s already amassed an impressive following of 30K followers on Instagram and collaborated with the likes of Samsung, Singapore Management University, and even the Singapore Tourism Board.

Here’s a fun fact about Yik Keat — he pursued Aerospace in his polytechnic days, which is hardly related to what he’s up to these days.

The young but talented creative began his foray into photography in his teens, when he was just 16 years old. Back then, Instagram, the photo-sharing social media platform, had just launched and its popularity was growing steadily. Armed with a mobile device and just a spark of curiosity, Yik Keat, or @YK on Instagram, began taking photos and uploading them on social media.

This ignited his passion for photography six months down the road.

Getting Discovered

Say what you will about social media, but we can’t argue that these platforms open up a plethora of opportunities for creatives. A few months after Yik Keat first started shooting with his DSLR, a digital single-lens reflex camera, Instagram put him on the “suggested users” list and that soon led to him receiving paid engagements for his visual work.

A Visual Style That’s Uniquely His

Pull up YK’s feed on Instagram and you’ll see a distinct visual uniformity across his entire feed. While his visuals used to feature intense red and blue hues, he’s now shifting towards more contrast and moody visuals.

“I do like to have complementary colours in my feed, it helps to create a mood.”

Here are some of our favourites.

A well-composed shot of a high-rise building in the evening lit up by corridor lights. This picture captures symmetry, light and reflective surfaces, yet weaves in the stories of the city’s inhabitants through the windows which show that the units are occupied by people. Photography: Courtesy of Lee Yik Keat
The energy and vibrancy of Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport depicted through bright hues applied to the HSBC Rain Vortex. Photography: Courtesy of Lee Yik Keat

Reinventing Each Shot as His Own

Picturesque places often attract many photographers — so how does Yik Keat make photos uniquely his?

Photography: Courtesy of Lee Yik Keat

“Reshoot and reshoot,” is Yik Keat’s advice on making each photograph look as unique and original as possible. The self-taught urban photographer says he spares no effort in discovering different angles and compositions for each shot.

“Master that, and you will make any place look different,” he says.

Light is everything, I think it’s so crucial as it shapes and changes the whole mood just by a slight tweak of it, so master it!

Taking On Different Perspectives

According to Yik Keat, the toughest part about urban photography is that it is very dependent on environmental conditions, and the photographer is at the mercy of the weather.

Though his Instagram feed is populated with inspiring photos, Yik Keat reveals that it often takes multiple attempts to create the perfect shot.

“There were some projects where I just can’t seem to get it right [sic] and I just kept redoing it and trying to communicate with the client on the final visual.”

Whenever his creative juice runs dry, Yik Keat takes a step back and tries to get a fresh pair of eyes to help him get a different perspective. This helps him look at his work through another person’s lens and allows him to get his creative gears moving again.

Yik Keat captures a crowded street on a rainy day, featuring blurred faces and a greyish tone with pops of colour in the shop signs. Photography: Courtesy of Lee Yik Keat

Through multiple collaborations with brands, Yik Keat learnt that “communicating and understanding the client brief is really important.” As a branding agency, we know how important it is to understand clients in order to fulfil their objectives.

Of course, we couldn’t conclude the interview without first asking if there were any #photographyhacks he’d like to share with our readers.

“Light is everything, I think it’s so crucial as it shapes and changes the whole mood just by a slight tweak of it, so master it!” TOC

Liked this article? Find out how photography inspires local poet, Marc Nair.

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