HK Magazine Tablet App for iPad and Android

Upclose with Wing Shya
Wing Shya is best known for his photographic work in Wong Kar-wai’s “2046” and “Happy Together.” Recently, however, he’s gained notoriety as a “subversive” artist. He tells Winnie Chau how acupuncture and sailors inspire him.

By Winnie Chau | Sep 04, 2008

Share this article
  • Upclose with Wing Shya

HK: Are you comfortable being called an artist these days?
Wing Shya:
I used to see myself more as a designer and I wasn’t totally at ease being called a photographer. Whenever I filled in arrival cards, I would write “designer” in the occupation box. Only recently did I start putting “photographer” there. Actually, I don’t really know how to address myself. Calling myself an artist is a bit scary...

HK: Where do you get your inspiration?
Everyday life is inspiration. Even the color of your nail polish can inspire me. It looks as if you are bleeding blue blood. Recently, during a photo shoot on the ferry, I asked the model to stand next to the sailor. I was stimulated by the scene and thought, “a romance with a sailor would make an interesting story.” I am always sensitive to photos that entail narrative. Another time, I was inspired by a colleague who likes to get acupuncture. We took a model to the acupuncturist to be needled on for a photo shoot. She screamed helplessly and we pretended not to hear anything.

HK: The photography in your first solo art exhibition is inspired by Tatsuyuki Tanaka’s manga. Are you a fan of fantasy?
I believe in fantasy; my fantasies are evident in my works. Tanaka’s books give a strong cinematic sense—just like movie stills—which is something I love. It’s not easy to turn fantastical comic scenes into reality. Casting is one thing. I actually used a female model in the photo shoot to represent a male character.

HK: Most of your models are actors, but wouldn’t their acting skills make the shoot somehow artificial?
I love working with actors. They have their own way of doing things. Even if they behave “naturally,” there is something that distinguishes them from others. They aren’t merely models. When Chow Yun-fat puts on his trench coat, he immediately transforms into someone else. They know how to make use of different costumes and locations to bring out something unique.

HK: Who has been your most difficult photography subject?
I’ve worked with professional models, actors and strangers on the street. To me, there is no such thing as “difficult subject,” as long as you know what you are doing and design the settings accordingly.

HK: Are you camera-shy?
A little, I guess... I don’t know how to pose, especially when I can’t see what’s happening behind the lens.

Related Articles

Upclose with Almond Chu
HK Magazine: You’ve just released a book of your works. Tell us something about it. Almond Chu: My book, “Hong Kong Photographers Three—Almond Chu” contains a selection of my most recent works. One of my favorite series in it is “Parade,”…
My Muse
Michael Wolf German-American Michael Wolf started his career as a photojournalist, eventually shooting all over the world. When SARS and the financial crisis conspired to make cash-strapped magazines rely less on editorial photographers, he embraced the opportunity to turn a lens on his home base,…
Artist Wilson Shieh
HK Magazine: This doesn’t look like the Hong Kong I know. Wilson Shieh: I intended to represent Hong Kong as a relaxing, pleasurable place. I imagine it as a place for people to chill. HK: Who are these odd little people? WS:…
Kayt Jones
HK Magazine: How old were you when you picked up your first camera? Kayt Jones: When I was fourteen, I borrowed my dad’s camera. It was a film camera, a Pentax Spotmatic. I still remember my first roll of black and…
Siu Ding a.k.a Liu Ngan-ling
HK Magazine: How did the idea for this photo exhibition come about? Siu Ding: Last year, I posted some semi-nude photos of myself on Facebook. Shortly afterwards, my former lecturer from Polytechnic University asked me to speak at a General…
HK Magazine iPad App
HK Magazine Sign Up Form

Sign up for HK News, Hot Deals, and Party Invites!

* Email

Prefer to read HK on your computer? Get your free PDF download by signing up to this. Delivered weekly

Exclusive deals and discounts from our partners. Delivered no more than twice a week

Plan your next 48 hours off with our curated list of happenings over the weekend. Delivered weekly


Barfly App by HK Magazine