Liam Wong didn’t intend to pursue photography professionally. After looking at his Instagram, it’s hard to believe, but his signature style only developed once he decided to buy a DSLR before a trip to Japan in 2015. Wong–who is an art director at one of the largest game development studios by day–visited Tokyo, and it was there that Wong’s style sparked. As he says: “It was the pictures I took then that really got me inspired to get more creative. I come from a graphic design background and so I picked up photography as a way to learn more about things like color, composition, contrast and lighting – but in the end it taught me so much more.”
Looking at Wong’s Instagram—a following to which Wong “owes a lot of the opportunities” that he has been given—his style is consistent and stunning, a perfectly curated collection of photos that reveal the heart and identity of Tokyo, with a uniform color aesthetic that radiates off the page. “In my day job, I specialise in visual identity,” Wong tells me, “I had taken a lot of photographs on my DSLR before it really clicked in my head to combine my background in art with my photography”.
After putting these two pieces together, things really began to take off, as Wong continues, “I captured one picture in particular, a taxi driver waiting in the rain for a couple to exit a love hotel. At the time I didn’t have any social media following so it was just on my personal Facebook page and my friends and colleagues loved the image so much that it inspired me to go out each night and capture more”.
Wong, who was recently featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 list, specializes in photos that unveil Tokyo after dark, meaning Wong has to scour the streets of the city late at night in search of that perfect shot. “As a street photographer – specifically a night photographer -” Wong explains, “I am always on the lookout for a shot which excites me, almost always I am looking for architecture.”
While an evening in Tokyo is Wong’s ideal shooting location, what’s even more fascinating to the photographer is rain. “I am just fascinated by how a city can light up and change mood as soon as the rain hits,” Wong says, “on those nights, I spend hours and hours on the streets. By the end of the night I am drenched, but I get shots I am happy with.”
After developing such a unique style, capturing Tokyo from its empty alleyways to its bustling intersections while maintaining a hue of vibrant neons, it is no wonder the photographer has found success in his career through his Instagram page. Wong explains that only two years ago he had just 200 followers, and now he says, “I’m en route to hit 100k”.
Instagram is a platform for Wong to share his work with a widespread audience, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive— “I took pictures for a lot of high profile people after they reached out through Instagram,” Wong says, “One of the more interesting collabs was a fashion shoot in Tokyo, with the most difficult shot being capturing 5 people in the same shot and a bunch of individual shots too. Since then I have collaborated with a bunch of models, musicians and directors but haven’t shared the work yet”.
In terms of future plans to continue his work in Tokyo, Wong hopes to use his creativity to incorporate what he has learned into other art forms. “I have a lot of cool opportunities coming up for collaborations in the near future,” he says “so I am excited about that since I always learn a lot from these interactions. I spent the last month shooting video in Tokyo as a way to venture a little more into creating a short film. I also plan to make my own video game this year, since it’s my main profession.”
If you are concerned about a possible lack of Instagram posts due to his pursuit other creative endeavours, fear not. The photographer “took a break from Instagram last year” so that he “could focus on work, travel and just being creative again,” but with an abundance of photos ready to be shared from his hiatus, Wong assures he is “excited to post the last year of captures.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2018 Issue of Resource Magazine. You can buy the whole issue HERE.