Freedom Seeker

This month's Creator Spotlight shines on photographer, Eugene Lee, whose experimental work challenges us to rethink conventions in beauty and fashion.

Tell us about yourself and the kind of work you do.

I’m Eugene, a 24 year-old fashion and portrait photographer based in Singapore. Through my work, I always believe in bringing out the narrative form of imagery, whether in singular or collective form, to evoke certain emotions, as well as to piece together a story while focusing on the raw beauty of the subject. 

What is Freedom Seeker about?

In the planning of this fashion story, we wanted to portray its key themes in consecutive stages – from exploration, to discovery, and finally, empowerment – with each stage showcasing a new-found perspective/identity. We decided to have a simple set-up of a moss bed and the bow and arrow (made of branches and leaf petals) to create the image of an adventurer exploring the wetlands. We also took this direction with the styling and the hair to showcase fearlessness and bravery – the looks transition and get progressively bolder throughout the series. Distortion of the images and the power poses were used to show unconventional beauty and empowerment, respectively.

How did you get into photography?

I first started out prior to National Service, taking an interest in street photography. I often found myself in Chinatown taking images of people going about their daily lives and the architecture there.

Over time, I gradually shifted towards portraits, and then, fashion photography. 

“Home Alone” (Eugene Lee, 2021)

What do you love about it?

Photography in general is so limitless and open to interpretation. The fact that you can explore so many different genres and create so many different things is exciting for me. This is especially so when the concept you have in mind comes through, which is also made possible by working together with like-minded individuals.

What do you hate about it? 

Photography is not always about what you like. When it slowly transitions to a profession, as for most creatives, there are certain traditions or expectations to be met, such as the need for “perfection”. Sometimes, it can get a little dry when keeping up with such standards. Also, the constant need to innovate and create something that stands out can cause creative burnout. 

What’s your creative process like? Do you have any habits or rituals that ground you, inspire you, or help your art-making in any way?

Personally, planning for a shoot is really important. I prefer to ensure that the concept and the flow of the images are clear from the start. This includes preparing pose references, the kind of lighting involved, hair and makeup, etc. Whenever I feel like I need inspiration, I just take long walks at night, thinking about life. And scrolling through Pinterest.

What was your inspiration for this shoot?

Borderlands, the video game. In the planning of this shoot, I was thinking about how to make this series unconventional, but at the same time, expressing boldness and empowerment. Not sure why, but I had this image of the wetlands in Borderlands and I thought it would be interesting to develop a character who was in pursuit of freedom.

If you could collaborate with anyone, or shoot anything in the world, who/what would it be?

I’m a huge Chelsea supporter so I would love to cover a football match at Stamford Bridge. It would also be amazing to shoot alongside or to simply observe Cho Gi Seok

Singaporeans tend to complain that our society lacks creativity and freedom. As a creative, do you agree?

I agree to a certain extent, and I think it’s mainly due to consumer preferences and traditional ideals which have been ingrained into society.

However, I think that there is a shift in mindset and attitude, where an increasing number of young creatives are expressing themselves more and are slowly making their mark in the creative scene. I believe that there will be a “creative revolution” soon, and the near future will present much more room for creativity and freedom in Singapore.

Any advice for aspiring creatives trying to find their voice?

Believe in your own work, and always try to break new boundaries.