New Gen #8: Inside the otherworldly scenescapes of young Singaporean fashion photographer Feedbeng
When did you fall in love with photography?
I always had a strange fascination with beauty and strong glamorous women. I grew up watching professional wrestling with my brother. We'd watch it almost every day and I'd be obsessed with the women. They'd show up with their perfectly curled hair and a face full of makeup but they still manage to do whatever their male counterparts were doing. That fascination transitioned to stumbling across images of Veruschka and Kate Moss, which then introduced me to the work of photographers such as Steven Meisel. His images always told a story, while merging together beauty with glamour while still staying true to the DNA of that particular collection he was photographing. I immediately fell in love with the storytelling aspect of photography and have always wanted to do that ever since.
Where do you draw your influences from?
I draw influences from different places: from walking around town and seeing what the window displays look like to watching shows like RuPaul's Drag Race, but mainly my work is fuelled by my feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
The truth is navigating through this world is not easy, especially for sensitive people like myself. We see, hear and feel so many things. You add that to growing up in Singapore, in a traditional Chinese household, where you don't get to express yourself as often as you'd like and you are more or less taught to follow and abide by things. I had to find a way to condense my feelings and express them through my work.
Do you have any close collaborators you work with?
I've worked with some collaborators mainly for commercial work but its mostly uncharted waters for me. In all honesty, I get cautious about collaborating with others. The perfectionist in me gets fearful about the message getting diluted and not coming through in the way I pictured it in my head. I don't think collaborating is just getting a stylist or a male-up artist together a few days before the shoot and telling them what to do. I think it should be about everyone communicating and having a collective idea with a consistent message for the shoot.
The way I work is quite excessive sometimes. I sketch things out, do recces at least twice before the shoot, going around to grab clothes for the shoot and getting equipment all by myself. I've been telling myself to let go about my process a lot more because there's definitely magic in letting go and in collaboration. Collaboration is something I really want to do more of this year. So if you're interested in a sit down over a plate of fried chicken please drop me a message!
Generally, I usually work with my ride-or-die girls, Rudy and Kamil, who are my closest friends.
What do you hope to show/achieve through your photography?
To be honest, my work comes from a rather selfish place. I always had so much to express, and just like in most Singaporean families, I didn't get to talk about my feelings as often as I'd like as a child. I was never a great speaker anyway but I knew I always wanted someone to listen and doing shoots was the only way I could get someone to listen.
Do you have any tips for other aspiring photographers?
I was apprehensive about starting photography initially because everyone in school was super fixated about the technicalities of taking a good photograph and I was horrible at that. I then chanced upon a podcast with photographer Tim Walker. He talked about being not as technical as other photographers and how your technical abilities should not take precedence over your message or storytelling. I really believe in that.
The best advice would be to really hone in on the things that make you special, your personal experiences and finding your voice and the message you want your images to have. To not limit yourself with physical restrictions or technical knowledge. Draw, sketch, paint things out, do something! Just being authentically you is good enough.
What would be your most memorable photograph?
It would have to be the one from "Singapore Dissected". Its bittersweet because I shot that about five years ago but the feeling I have towards the country and its people still somewhat remains the same.
Name the young and local creatives that you admire.
I used to assist for Caleb and Gladys. They're a duo that does super beautiful glossy commercial work; work that I probably can never do which I guess explains my fascination with their work. Pann Lim is also an absolute legend. I just love the way he thinks and make things work. I admire creative people in general, people that make things happen and create beautiful things. I recently fell in love with Benita Leong and my good gal pal Vanessa Han, who runs the local streetwear brand, Cruddy.
One subject, location or object that you wish to photograph.
I am always excited to do more shoots that celebrate the seemingly mundane places of Singapore but I also want to do more shoots overseas and explore different landscapes. Subjects wise, I'd want to do more shoots with male models.
One change you wish to see in Singapore.
I hope people talk about or show their feelings more freely and more often, especially men or boys who are maybe not given the chance as often. Could you just imagine the beautiful children we'd raise if that actually happened.
How do you see your photographic work developing in the future?
2018 has been a great year for me, I have a few exciting projects in the works for 2019. I would love to work more with different people, fashion brands and magazines to come up with interesting concepts, ideas for different projects, campaigns and fashion stories.
I also see my work continuing to be somewhat personal and completely genuine because I think that's what people enjoy. I've heard different comments about my work; its a bit strange. It's sometimes romantic but it can also be funny to some. That's what I enjoy about creating, because everything is open-ended, as long as my work is genuine, it'll definitely resonate with someone.
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