Interview with Felix in Canon BUZZ Issue 19 (Oct 2010)
November 8th, 2010
Based in Singapore, Swiss-born photographer Felix Hug hopes to communicate and promote diversity and humanity through inspiring travel images. The award-winning photographer has been working in the region on assignments for some of the most recognized companies in the travel and leisure industry, including Silk Air, Lonely Planet Images and Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts.
Canon BUZZ: Tell us how your adventure in photography started? Has travel photography always been your “calling”?
Felix Hug: I took tons of pictures with a camera belonging to my late dad, who sadly passed away when I was 18 years old. It was my first serious attempt on travel photography. The images were a total disaster and i remember being so disappointed that I immediately bought photography books, pledging to improve my photography. But it was only when I travelled around the world six months at the age of 30 that I thought my skills had improved to a point I started to see my travel experience being reflected in the images.
The move to becoming a professional photographer was only prompted 10 years later when I took photography courses at the Australian Center of Photography. It was almost like homecoming and within days decided I want to do this for living.
Its a combination of talent and passion; but its mostly hard work. To bystanders, it looks like an easy, logical and clear journey one has taken from the start with a destined outcome. Bout only passion and dedication can bring you through periods of financial instability, setbacks, inspirational droughts and self-doubt.
Felix Hug: You must love the matter itself- the travel and photography experience. Passion is the motor, while skills can be added over time. Its important to stay curious and look at the world through the eyes of a child. The skills of observation must be the greatest trait for any travel or documentary photographer. Its through the eyes of the photographer and the resulting images that we enable the viewers to see the world our way.
Its is a relentless process of constant editing and making difficult choices. Its not about objectivity – its all about the photographers subjective viewpoint and how we choose to trigger emotions in the viewer.
In todays world, images need to have increasingly visual impact to prompt an interest from viewers. But there is a need to look beyond the impact, or else they remain shallow images when you examine them closely. The danger is always there with travel photography, because it’s a constant struggle to find a balance between impact, inspiration and storytelling.
How do you keep a fresh eye despite repeated visits to the same places?
Felix Hug: Fresh perspective comes with inspiration, as well as time for relaxation and reflection. That’s sometimes hard to manage with a full schedule. like any artist a photographer goes through periods of mental blockages. Most of the times it happens, because you are stressed or worried. Or your senses are overloaded, which can easily happen in our age and time. It helps to do something different for a while, such as reading a book, or going to a concert or an exhibition. It helps to free your mind again. There is a reason why the concept of a “muse” is so important in the arts world. Creativity is one thing that cannot be triggered with dills or hard work. Often the best ideas happen at the moment of relaxation.
Returning to a place repeatedly has also its rewards – it challenges you to see past the first impression and to create something different. Often, thats when you get the most rewarding images. A place can look very different when you revisit it – the weather or light has changed, the activity-level might be different and so on. There is no pressure to “document” the place anymore, as you have done that already before. So you are free to experiment.
Besides travel, are there any areas in photography that interests you?
Felix Hug: I did some advertising and fashion photography work for designers, modeling agencies and companies in the past and we still do this, when we see a chance. But its hard to work successfully in different areas of photography. At the end of the day, it just boils down to how much time you are willing to dedicate specializing your photography for the different areas of the market.
We never publicize this much, but I had won awards for my fine art and fashion work in the past as well. At present we are looking to do a few more jobs for advertising. Its good to do something a bit different once in a while to stay current, fresh, inspired and to challenge yourself again. When I get a chance I will want to work on some of my own projects, but lately that has not happen due to lack of time.
What is in your camera bag during a typical assignment?
Felix Hug: For travel photography I try to keep it as simple as possible. I use two bodies: The Canon 5D Mk II and the 1D Mk IV. The standard lens would be the EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens and a EF 70-200 mm f/4 lens. Sometimes I add a EF 50 mm lens (f/1.8 or f/1.4) and a wide-angle EF 16-35 mm f/2.8. I have three flashes – the 270 EX, 420 EX and the 580 EX, but I only use them in specific situations. I rarely use a tripod, mostly for twilight shots and of course hotel work. And I ll always carry a laptop and two external drives. Its important that I have options if any of my equipment breaks down or goes missing. That is the reason why I carry spare equipments with me. Most of the things stay in the hotel when i go out shooting, as weight is a constant factor. I love the EOS 5D MK II and the EF 24-70mm, and I carry them with me 90% of the time as they cover most of my needs. I love the addition of HD video capabilities and sometimes when I take stills i just ad short videos as well.
Canon BUZZ, retyped EOA