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InspireMeWith Interview Stephen Duddridge

Photographer, Hong Kong

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

After having moved around a lot as a child, I look at myself as a global citizen. Constant travel has made a strong impact on me, and from a very young age I knew that I enjoyed visualizing the world across a range of sensory perceptions, from beauty to ugliness and everything in between. As a visual person, I have always wanted to capture the variety of the world’s imagery so that others could understand my unique perception. Today, I’m striving to capture this city, Hong Kong, which makes me feel so alive. I’m so very fortunate to call Hong Kong my home.  My very first project (www.thisis.hk) has entailed a time-lapse journey that attempts to show how this unique urban atmosphere creates a sensory experience unlike any other.

 

  1. Describe your path to becoming a photographer.

At least initially, it was all a little bit happenchance. I had set-up a company that was based on teaching children using unconventional methods inspiring them to think creatively. At the same time I was, for my own interest, dabbling in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography—but at an amateurish level with very little focus. At a basic level, I began to ask simple but important questions about how the aesthetics of time-lapse could place further demands on existing technology, such as a “third space” that might exist between extant still-capture and slow-video frame-speed technologies. There continues to be room to explore artistically between the two. One day, while living in a heavily populated area of Mong Kok, I experimented by placing a camera out the window using an intervalometer (an automated camera release tool). The set-up was crude, but I noticed that I could achieve basic effects I had not yet encountered in the work of other time-lapse artists. Whereas other time-lapsers focused on the heavens and the night sky, I began to look around my city, and I continue to see limitless potential here. For the first few months, sleeping was hard as I was thrilled by the endless possibilities for camera set-ups.

 

  1. Was creativity a part of your childhood?

In my youth, growing up in the 1970s, the world was a different place. We would build basic objects using Legos and make things we imagined rather than simply following the demands of computer-programmed interfaces like people do today.  In general, my childhood gave me the freedom to explore apart from preconceived or programmed mindsets.

 

 

  1. Is there any one particular risk you have taken in order to move your art forward?

I am not only self-taught but self-funded. Especially with a young son to provide and care for, the demands of achieving the highest artistic potential require a careful and daily rebalancing with the demands of everyday life.  As an artist one is driven by the passion to create; if the fundamentals of the vision are executed well and innovatively, the money will follow. The challenge, of course, is to use the high-speed, on-line social mediascape to brand your work and to disseminate it as widely as possible without losing the integrity of your own personal vision to the copycats and image pirates.

 

  1. What projects would you like to develop in the future?

I use cutting-edge technology, but I also remain committed to more traditional, theme-based images and projects.  A key feature of effective time-lapse is to break new artistic ground while at the same time achieving continuity with the corpus of the past. For example, I have always been fascinated by some Asian art that captures the same scene across different seasons. I’m also working on something that uses my past images to create something very unique in an image.  I call it lapse of time or transitioning time shifts.  It’s taking many images over one extended period of time highlighting the elements often not noticed. Hong Kong changes so quickly, such that a time-lapse aesthetic of ephemerality seems uniquely suited to the place. I have some more radical ideas in mind, too. I’m not one to walk the path most travelled.

 

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?

Most typically, nothing is very typical about me or my day!  Often my day involves climbing too many stairs, a few too many visits to the clinic for fractures or abrasions, and multiple visits to the camera repair shop. Then there are the many endless hours behind the computer screen processing time-lapse footage, adjusting density levels and frame-speeds, as well as researching new locations.  Plus, after school hours I greatly enjoy looking after my five-year-old, who I often refer to not as an apprentice but as my executive producer.

 

  1. Where would we find you on a Saturday morning?

If it’s a blue weather day—clear skies—I’ll be at home relaxing enjoying family time or working on post-production next to my console, perched near my terabyte hard-drives. The more dramatic the weather is likely to be, then I’m up before dawn and off with my gear high above the city as it awakes.  You can follow me at www.facebook.com/thisishk

 

  1. What are you most looking forward to?

I most look forward to gaining access to presently off-limits locations legally or working on other ways to get a unique vantage point, as well as achieving wider recognition as a time-lapse artist and digital creator. It would also be terrific if my son were to carry forward into his own life education (and eventual career) the same passion I bring to my time-lapse artistry. My work is my gift to the future, and I hope others will be inspired by it.

Interview: IMW  | Text: Stephen Duddridge | Editing: Bryan Salyer | Photography: Stephen Duddridge

Links to the original article in Cantonese, French, English, Simplified Chinese