Awarded Best Portrait Photography by Singapore Tatler, EOS Professional Kelvin Lim’s sensual portraits, unique vision behind the lens, and personal ethic have made many clients happy. EOS World discovers what makes Kelvin tick.
EOS Professional Kelvin Lim
How did you begin as a photographer?
Fifteen years ago, while working in one of the world’s top accounting firms, I realised the corporate life wasn’t for me. I wanted to be an artist.
While I could draw, paint and do computer graphics, I started exploring photography at 30.
My first wedding shoot as an unpaid backup was terrible. Only ten out of 300 shots were usable. They formed my portfolio. After a few more assignments, a respected wedding photographer in Singapore interviewed me for a job. His humility and class deeply impressed me up to today.
I quit my job to work under him. It was the most important break in my creative career, leading to a crazy adventure that’s still unfolding as I’m writing this.
Why focus on portraits?
I was already shooting “portraits” from day one. I felt constrained by people’s expectations of wedding pictures. Everything looks so staged. I’d to shoot and deliver a package that looks pretty and unreal on the outside. But what if I stop posing and pasting people in spectacular backdrops and start learning about who they really are?
How much time do you dedicate to photography?
About 20%. Another 20% is spent on writing and creative expression. The rest on understanding people, connecting with fans and self-reflection in solitude.
How did you feel being awarded Best Portrait Photography by Singapore Tatler?
Having avoided competitions for almost a decade, I was surprised. The best judges ought to be the photographer’s very own audience rather than a panel of “experts”. Since this award is given by the readers – not professionals paid to judge, it’s an honour to be told to keep going because someone’s listening.
What do you look for in portraits?
Moments of beauty and magic when my subject is relaxed. For studio shoot, I plan my lighting (a simple and safe setup e.g. 2 soft-boxes or window light) and where to place the subject (usually comfortably seated). For outdoors, I find the most relaxing and comfortable spot – usually in the shade, with natural props that the subject can sit or lean on.
I keep an ongoing conversation. Guidance is simply part of that. I’m not looking for certain looks or poses, but the moments that inspire.
I don’t choose subjects. Everyone has the right to be heard.
Do you work more with natural light?
I’ve no preference. Experience can transform studio lighting into something beautiful and natural. The question is: can we use whatever light to express our message with clarity and conviction?
I’ve learn to use different lighting situations the way I’ve mastered the strengths and limitations of my equipment.
What’s your most fulfilling experience as a photographer?
It’s being able to touch people’s lives.
I’ll never forget the dying woman who was moved by the reflection of her beauty before passing on. Nor the lonely man who cried when he saw the happiness reflected in his portrait.
Hidden stories are waiting to be told if we listen carefully with our lens.
What do your clients love about your work?
They enjoy our private conversation which is reflected in their portraits.
I’ve consciously distanced myself from the marketplace. My images are not voices dictated by trends, technology and market forces.
What advice would you give to those considering this genre?
Think less, feel more. Put yourself in your models’ shoes. Care for them as real people with feelings. You’ll be amazed at the beauty you find. Eventually, you’ll appreciate the deep, positive impact it’ll have on your career.
Despite your busy schedule, find time to reflect on yourself and what you stand for. Find your voice and stick with it. Your passion will lead the way during difficulties.
Any exciting projects this year?
My art residency with Exactly Foundation is about elderly caregiving in Singapore. Unlike commercial portraiture which delivers “answers”, we ask questions on pressing issues that affects many of us.
I’ll be sharing my experiences in December and discussing photography with fellow shutterbugs.
i’m having a discussion with VWOs and social enterprises on promoting empathy.
Lastly, I hope to share my experiences in photography to benefit others.
Which camera do you consider upgrading next?
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.
Check out Kelvin’s incredible work at: