Photographer Kelvin Yuen on Capturing Unseen Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s known for being a dense urban center; a city full of skyscrapers. But award-winning photographer Kelvin Yuen is trying to change all that. He first picked up a camera at the age of 18 and since then, he’s developed a unique, ethereal style of landscape photography that presents a little-seen side of Hong Kong. From Sai Kung and Tsing Yi to Eagle’s Nest Nature Trails and the Peak, Kelvin’s photography centers around dramatic scenes of Hong Kong’s rugged wilderness. He has an unwavering dedication to his work - he only weighs 43kgs, but hikes with a 26kg backpack to capture his shots - which was recently rewarded when he was named the 2020 International Landscape Photographer of the Year. We speak to Kelvin about getting his start in photography, his challenges and inspirations, and why he so loves Hong Kong’s wild side.

Kelvin Yuen Hong Kong Photography Artist with his photography art camera on Kowloon PeakBamboo Scenes Photography Artist Kelvin Yuen - Kowloon Peak, Hong Kong

 

What was your first camera? Which camera would you suggest for photographers that are just starting out?
My first camera was a Canon EOS 450D, which was an old camera from my family. For beginners, I recommend starting to use your cellphone to capture what you want. At this stage especially, the idea and photographic eye are more important than the equipment. 

Kelvin has an unwavering dedication to his work—he only weighs 43kgs, but hikes with a 26kg backpack to capture his shots 

What editing software do you like to use? Do you have any quick tips for editing photographs? 
I use Photoshop to edit all of my photos. I always have an overall idea of the final image in my mind before I put the image into Photoshop, so I always know exactly what I’m doing. My main tip would be to think before you edit because overediting is real!

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of taking unique, interesting photos when traveling?
The weather! Because it’s something I can’t control when I’m traveling. I always have a certain expectation of lighting when I’m shooting different scenes, such as a heavy storm with a mountain, or the Northern Lights over a village. Normally, I take a “draft photo” in as many weather conditions as possible, which helps me understand how to compose my image when I come back to the same spot in more favorable weather and lighting. 

Hong Kong Photography Wall Art Print Call of the Mountain by Local Photographer Kelvin Yuen"Call Of The Mountain" by Kelvin Yuen (Hong Kong) - available in art print via Bamboo Scenes

 

What inspires your photography? 
I watch a lot of epic CGI animation openings and draw inspiration from them. I find that animation always creates a surreal mood and unique compositions, so I notice how this is done and then try to see if I can find something similar in real life to create a real image. 

Which photographers have influenced your style the most? What do you most like about them?
Marc Adamus is my favorite landscape photographer. He has a really strong personal style and unique profile and has such a passion for the wilderness and artistry. When you look at his images, you’ll notice that most of his photos are shot in extreme weather conditions, giving them a truly out-of-this-world look. You almost can’t believe his photos are taken on our planet.  

Wall Art Photography Print by Artist Hong Kong Kelvin Yuen - Mysterious Fine Art Photography
"Mysterious" by Photographer Kelvin Yuen (Hong Kong),  available in art print via Bamboo Scenes

 

How is your personality reflected in your work? 
I’m a very purposeful person, and a bit of a perfectionist. I set a goal, and work relentlessly to plan and execute it. No matter how challenging it may be, I keep working until I get the perfect shot. That’s why all of my artworks are taken with extreme composition and the best weather conditions—I know exactly what I want to capture, and I always want to do it in the most perfect way. I want the viewers to be able to see my imagination through my epic works.

Why are you particularly drawn to landscape and nature photography? 

I tried shooting event, promotional, and product images at the beginning of my photography journey. But I only really feel alive when I’m facing nature. By nature, I’m an impatient person, but when it comes to landscape photography, I seem to have infinite patience. I genuinely forget the time when I’m shooting and exploring. 

I’m an impatient person, but when it comes to landscape photography, I seem to have infinite patience. I genuinely forget the time when I’m shooting and exploring.  

What does Hong Kong mean to you and your photography? 
Hong Kong might be a very well-developed city, but to me, it still seems like an undiscovered place on earth. No one takes nature photos in Hong Kong, so I don’t have any preconceived ideas before I go exploring and shooting. It means I can give my imagination full reign and unleash my creativity to create these images. 

Kelvin Yuen Hong Kong Photography Artist with his photography art camera on Kowloon Peak
Bamboo Scenes Photography Artist Kelvin Yuen - Kowloon Peak, Hong Kong

 

What advice would you give to today's young aspiring photographers? 
If you want to try landscape photography, you can’t turn off your alarm and go back to sleep. You have to wake up really early, before the sun, and go out to catch the first light of the day. And don’t be afraid to play around with your camera—you might discover something you never expected.

Don’t be afraid to play around with your camera—you might discover something you never expected. 

What are your photography goals for 2021? 
I’ve been working on a Hong Kong GeoPark project to capture the most beautiful part of Hong Kong over one year—I’ve gone to all the remote islands in the GeoPark. At the end of this year, I will release a brand new collection of photos and timelapse videos about Hong Kong’s nature, which I’m really excited about. No one’s ever used this level of photography to create this kind of high-quality artwork before...stay tuned! 

Why did you choose Bamboo Scenes to showcase your artwork? 
This is my first time working with a curator like Bamboo Scenes to sell my art. When they came to me to introduce Bamboo Scenes and propose their idea of working together, I could feel their professionalism—especially around print production—and their respect for their artists. I thought that these were the kind of people I could sell my works with—people with good taste.

Wall Art Photography Artist Hong Kong Kelvin-Yuen - Autumn in Black Art Frame"Autumn" by Photographer Kelvin Yuen - Handmade Black Art Frame by Bamboo Scenes

 

What is your favorite photograph from your collection at Bamboo Scenes? 
My favorite photograph is “An Island” from 2020. This image was taken from Ma On Shan, early one spring morning. I started hiking up to the mountain at 3AM, and I was surrounded by fog the whole way. I arrived at the peak two hours later, I was finally above the clouds. I couldn’t believe the view, and when the sunlight hit the mountain range, the lighting and conditions were epic, just absolutely insane. I felt like I was shooting in heaven.  

Wall Art Photography Artist Hong Kong Kelvin Yuen - An Island"An Island" by Photographer Kelvin Yuen (Hong Kong), available in art print via Bamboo Scenes

 

Want to learn more about Kelvin Yuen? Check out his exclusive artist video to go explore an undiscovered side of Hong Kong with Kelvin, and explore his Bamboo Scenes photography collection

Kelvin Yuen Hong Kong Photography Artist with his photography art camera on Kowloon Peak
Bamboo Scenes Photography Artist Kelvin Yuen - Kowloon Peak, Hong Kong

 

Learn more about fellow Bamboo Scenes photography artist Elaine Li

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