Felix Lai - The Photographer's Interview
The beauty of light and composition is on full display in Felix Lai’s impressive photography. Seascapes, landscapes, wildlife and exquisite flower photography, Felix clearly knows his craft and is passionate about the locations that he shoots. If you love American scenery, towns and cities, as much as I do then you are going to love spending some time pouring through his portfolio.
You can also buy Felix’s excellent work on Fine Art America
Felix’s website: www.felixlaiphoto.com
He’s on Twitter
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Hong Kong, educated and worked in Hong Kong, Australia, United Kingdom and United States. Currently I am living in Florida, United States.
Why photography? As an art collector for many years, I always have the desire to express my appreciation of the beauty around us. After much self introspection, I understand I do not have the patience to be either a painter or a sculptor. My interest turns to photography which I believe gives me the medium to capture the beauty around us, not as a technician “duplicating” all the minute details of the world around us, but as an artist.
What photographic education have you had? If you are self taught how did you learn? I do not have formal training on arts and photography. I bought an inexpensive canon DSLR for Christmas in 2011 to start my photographic journey. For technical use of the camera(s), I rely on the camera manual and the internet especially YouTube. I do not remember I ever bought any books on photography. For composition of photography, I rely on my love of arts and my constant exposure to paintings and other artistic creations by artists.
If you could talk to a younger you when you first started Photography, what advice would you now give to yourself? If I have to redo it again, I probably would upload my photographs to social media earlier on. I bought my camera for Christmas in 2011 and did not show my photographs to the public until November 2015. One thing I found out is once you show your works publicly, you will put more discipline in your work and develop your own style quicker.
As a photographer how would you like to be perceived? Firstly I like people to enjoy my works. I like people to find my works artistically pleasing but they are not faithful “duplication” of the subjects (especially landscape).
What are your favourite lenses for each of your photographic genres and why do you like them? For landscape photography, I mainly use 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses. For macro photography, I use 100mm macro lens. For wildlife photography, I mainly use 100-400mm and 70-200mm lenses.
What planning do you undertake for a wildlife photography shoot? Like many photographers in Florida, we also like photographing birds which are plentiful in Florida. Winter months in Florida are the best time for bird photography as they are migrating south. After years of observing them, I have a good idea when and where they are congregating, and have a better than average understanding of their behavior. I usually spend more time photographing birds in winter and plan my trips to various bird sanctuaries in Florida.
What is your post processing process for your landscape photography? What programs do you use? I use Photoshop predominantly. I did not process my photographs until 2015 when I started uploading my photographs to social media. I deliberately limit my Photoshop knowledge so I am not tempted to alter my photographs too much. I do not regard myself as a fine art photographer. I use Photoshop just enough to present my works in an artistic way. I upload my work only when I find it “artistically” pleasing (at least to me). Who has been your greatest inspiration as a photographer? My photographic inspiration always comes from artists. Among those, to name a few, are British artist, John Constable; Australian artists, Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin. In US, when I went to college in New England (New Haven, Connecticut), I discovered the beauty of Hudson River School paintings, I just love the seascapes of William Trost Richards. Most of these Hudson River School painters were Plein-air painters, so they were “photographers” in their time! I also do not forget Oriental arts (Chinese, Japanese and Korean). With few brush strokes in black and white, the artists are able to convey the beauty and serenity of a landscape. Westerners would call them minimalist arts (photographs). I encourage photographers to get their inspiration from artists in addition to photographers. This also explains why my photographs are always colorful!
As a photographer, what would you say are your strongest skills and weaknesses? My strength is my ability to see beauty everywhere I go as a result of my love of arts. My weakness is taking too many photographs when I was on a trip far away from home knowing I might not come back for a long time. I sometimes regret I did not spend more time and effort photographing in one particular location.
On your photographic journeys where has been the best place to visit and why? New England where I used to go to college is my best place for photography. After college, I moved away from New England and spent more time visiting the spectacular landscapes in the west. I gradually realized the West has been over-photographed by professional photographers and tourists. Recently I turned my eyes back to New England for my photography. New England reminds me the beauty of the Hudson River School and Australian landscape paintings.