After having several careers (website developer, programmer, motorcycle painter and darkroom operator), Chung Li found that he wanted to return to his first and original passion, photography.
At the age of 15, Li accidentally found his dad’s mechanical camera in a closet. He’s been involved in every aspect of photography: first learning photography through film, printing in his own darkroom, to the current technology today of digital cameras and digital images, bringing his images to the next level.
Chung Li’s style as a photographer is a combination of editorial, photojournalism and classic. You will find that his unobtrusive approach allows him to capture all of the excitement, beauty, emotion and joy of a wedding day. Wedding photography is Li’s deep passion and he wants every image from a wedding to speak to the heart and let you relive your wedding day through the power of your wedding images.
Li’s goal is to make every client remember him for the rest of their life after their wedding.
He is based in San Francisco and can cover weddings all over the world. Li is currently booking wedding for 2014 and 2015. Please visit his www.chungliphotography.com.
ASIANCE: How did you get into photography as a profession?
Li: I started shooting when I was 15 years old and I have always been in love with portrait photography.
In 2006, I decided to be more serious and started working with several wedding photographers as assistant / 2nd photographer. I photographed my first wedding in Santa Cruz, California that same year and I just couldn’t stop. After being a part time wedding/portrait photographer for 7 years, I finally quit my computer system engineering job and started doing photography full time in 2013.
ASIANCE: What is the best education/training to be a successful, professional photographer?
Li: To be a professional photographer, we need to continuously educate ourselves. We need to be good in so many different areas. We need to be solid in the basics such as lighting, posing, editing, but we should also be good in marketing, branding and how to communicate with people. To achieve all of the above, I found myself continuously learning from different talented people from workshops, online trainings, books and magazines. Practice, practice, PRACTICE.
ASIANCE: What did your parents say when they found out you were pursuing photography as a profession?
Li: As you can imagine, I grew up in a traditional Asian family. My parents were not really that supportive when I mentioned it to them. I wanted to pursuing photography as a full time career. They only wanted me to have a stable job in a big company, have a good 9-5 job. But I persisted in what I believed and showed them what I can achieve with actions. After being a part time photographer for 7 years, I showed them I had everything lined up to be a full time professional photographer and able to earn my own living.
ASIANCE: What constitutes a great wedding photo? What are you looking to capture?
Li: To me, a great wedding photo has to be good in many aspects. It should be good in lighting, posing, location selecting, composition and most importantly, the expressions of the couple. When I approach a wedding, I am always looking to get the above elements in the wedding photos. When the couple look at the photos later, I want them to be able to feel how beautiful they were and how happy they were on the wedding day.
ASIANCE: Was there ever a favorite shoot?
Li: Every wedding is different, the couples, the venues and the stories behind them. I love all my clients, but if I really have to pick a favorite shoot, I will pick the wedding I photographed for Toshi and Yukari in Tokyo. As their wedding was in a very traditional Japanese style, from the ceremony to the reception. It is just so unique, their attentions to detail blew me away.
ASIANCE: What are your favorite themes?
Li: I am more drawn to weddings that are classic and elegant, with simple, neutral and softer color palette .
ASIANCE: Any bad experiences?
Li: Fortunately, I didn’t have much bad experiences in my wedding photography career, but I think when the bride and the groom are not really on the same page with the photography part, when one of them is not willing to spend as much time as the other to take the wedding photos, that makes things more difficult.
ASIANCE: Best experience?
Li: I have so many “best” experiences….photographing in a castle in England, a 5 day destination wedding shoot in Mexico, photographing in some beautiful wineries that I have never been before, all makes me want to do this job forever.
ASIANCE: Who would be your ultimate couple to shoot?
Li: If I can even choose movie couples, I actually want to photograph Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I have been a big fan of Meg Ryan since I was young. And I think Meg and Tom look very lovely and fun together .
ASIANCE: Any advice for aspiring photographers?
Li: There are so many shortcuts to create good images in this digital age, like different Photoshop techniques. But I really suggest photographers, especially aspiring portrait photographers, to really invest time in the foundations, such as lighting, posing, and composition.
This will help you to create so much more beautiful things than just relying on Photoshop. Even though “posing” sounds like a negative word to some portrait photographers, many stunning portraits are based on some important posing techniques. Learning all these will help you to survive in this industry in the long run. Once again, practice, practice and practice.
I think there are a lot of talented people out there. Some really want to spend more time in photography and are dreaming to be a professional photographer one day. However, they seem to be really tied down by their current jobs and financial situation. My comment is, if you try hard enough and persist, it will happen !