From our Hot Seat series.
Ever since being tapped as still photographer for famed director Wong Kar-wai in 1997, photographer Wing Shya and his work has become an indelible thread in the fabric of Hong Kong’s culture. Shya has shot for big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton and Rolex, but perhaps most importantly, some of the city’s best-known film stars (Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung) have featured in his photos. His inaugural exhibition took place in 2006 at the esteemed Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (he was the first non-Japanese photographer to be invited to exhibit there), and he made his cinematic debut in 2010 with feature film “Hot Summer Days.”
About to launch a retrospective exhibiton and his first photography book with The Shanghai Center of Photography (SCôP) called Wing Shya: Acting Out, Shya gives The Loop HK an insider glimpse into his creative processes.
A Little Background
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Wing Shya graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Canada. He swiftly returned to his hometown after graduating, deciding to create good Hong Kong art after his classmates in Canada mocked the region’s artistic creations. He founded award-winning design studio Shya-La-La Workshop and went on to shoot artistic, commercial and editorial photography.
5 Things You Should Know, according to Wing Shya:
1. Don’t take advice
Don’t listen. I really think you shouldn’t listen too much. Not even to me. Just don’t read this interview! I think if you listen to too many people, you don’t focus on yourself, because you’re spending the time on listening, not thinking. I actually tried not to listen during even my college years. Not even to my tutors or teachers. I didn’t care about their comments.
2. Live in the moment
Whatever project, I just concentrate on that moment. When I finish a project, I forget about it. I want to work on the next one.
3. Same same but different
Different people are different. You have to find different ways to get them to do what you want.
4. Work and play — simultaneously
I’ve been doing this for many years, so I have many friends. Actors, singers. If they ask me [to do a project], I’ll do it. I always enjoy working with friends because we can spend more time together. We usually eat together after the shoot.
5. Talk with young people
I’ve always loved youth. I think their purity is very powerful. They have passion, even if they don’t understand why they’re doing something. I love talking with youth because I find it fascinating and fresh.
Looking towards the future?
Because I’m getting old, I don’t understand what [Hong Kong youth] are thinking. So I started to do a lot of casting with youth, and I talked to them after the casting. We went to eat, I asked what they like and what they think of Hong Kong in the future. They want to know more, they’re so curious. I kept answering all their questions, even the stupid questions. I really try to support them, but I also try to step back and let them face problems themselves. If I [interfere too much], maybe I’m actually not helping them.