Victor Cheng is the photographer behind the popular Instagram account @veeceecheng, where he posts colorful, eye-popping images from around the world. Although Victor previously worked at a creative agency, he recently left his job to become a full-time content creator. Eager to learn about his inspirations, process, and transition period, we caught up with Victor and asked him a few questions.
When did you begin taking photos, and what have you done to hone your skills along the way?
Years ago, I loved taking random photos, but I was just borrowing a camera from my dad’s friend, and I was unsure of how to share the images. When Instagram was introduced for Android, I downloaded the app to see what the buzz was all about, and I was instantly hooked. I quickly shifted toward mobile photography, and Instagram became an everyday habit of mine. Not long after that, I got an iPhone 5 and started taking more photos of my daily life. It became a side hobby — some friends and I would meet up over the weekend and go on a photo walk to explore a new part of town. Eventually, I learned a lot of the technical terms related to photography, largely thanks to photo-editing apps. I drew a lot of inspiration from the first people I followed by looking at their feeds, and I began to see areas for improvement in my own work. To this day, I still value what I learned about symmetry, lighting, and composition in those early days.
How would you describe your style?
I shoot a wide range of subjects and topics, but my style is oriented toward natural light, bright colors, clean composition, and unique perspectives. In almost every photo, I try to apply a whimsical touch, often manifested in where I place my subject or how I play with perspective. For example, I tend to find locations with a huge scale and place the subject in the middle of the photo to give a comparison between the size of the person and the backdrop.
In short, I always like to add something that makes the person looking at my photo say “Ooooooh” instead of “Oh.”
You’ve lived in several cities around the globe. How have those settings influenced your photographic style?
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada when I was three years old. Throughout my life, I’ve lived in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Toronto, and I currently reside in Hong Kong once again. You could definitely say that my places of residence have grown busier as I’ve progressed, but since I’ve always gravitated toward urban photography, I love leading a fast-paced life. Both Toronto and Hong Kong have really influenced the way I capture architecture and city life, but with its bold and vibrant colors, Hong Kong has done the most to help me master my craft. When it comes to photographing everyday life here, I’m always walking the streets and looking for striking colors and textures.
In the past few years, what have travel and photography taught you about life?
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I’m naturally a calm person. That said, photography has taught me to be even more patient and level-headed. It’s taught me how to avoid feeling frustrated when things don’t go as planned, and it’s helped me learn to look for solutions and alternatives. Often, when I arrive at a certain location I want to shoot, it is either too crowded or the lighting isn’t quite right. That means that I have to wait — wait until those two seconds when the crowd has dissipated just enough that I can get the perfect shot, or wait until Golden Hour makes everything look a little more magical. Once, I waited almost an hour and a half to get a photo during Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. This little hallway was a perfect example of what it was like to shop for a lantern, but there were so many people coming and going. I was ready to give up within the first 20 minutes of waiting, but my girlfriend and I agreed to wait for another 30 minutes, which turned into an hour. There were finally five seconds where no one else was around, so we snapped the photo and called it a day.
Of course, travel has also taught me that the world is beautiful and that you should always take any chance you might have to see more. I only started traveling frequently this year, when I quit my full-time job and became a professional photographer and content creator. I’ve since realized that travel definitely helps creatives find new inspiration. The cultures, foods, locations, and friends you make along the way bring much-needed (and much-appreciated) insight and perspective.
What encouraged you to take the leap and become a full-time creative?
I owe a lot to my girlfriend, Sam (@samishome). When we met, she was already a full-time influencer, and she showed me the creative freedom you can achieve while working for clients and building a portfolio. Not so long after that, I had to take a lot of time off of work because some pretty cool brands wanted to hire both of us for really exciting projects, and I realized how much fun it was to do what I love for a living. That’s when I began pursuing that full-time. It wasn’t an easy decision (or one that I ever could have anticipated having to make), but I love it more than any other work I’ve done.
What’s your favorite part about working as a photographer? What have been some of your favorite experiences as you’ve worked in this domain?
Being able to create content in a new city — and being paid for it — is amazing! Simply centering my career around photography has allowed me to do what I love, and the ability to capture moments and share them with an audience is extremely satisfying. I also love waking up and knowing that the day’s experiences won’t be like the ones I had the day before. Each day is something new, and there’s always so much to learn.
That said, there are a few drawbacks, such as not having a solid schedule (since jobs come and go) and not knowing when you’ll get your next paycheck. Luckily, I like the spontaneous lifestyle.
What do you do when you feel yourself moving into a creative rut?
Whenever I feel uninspired or stuck, I force myself to explore a new part of town and find new things that are worth sharing. I’ve been living in Hong Kong for about two years now, and I still think there are areas that I have never visited. That can definitely spark my creativity.
Finally, do you have any advice for creatives who are just starting out?
I get asked this question quite a lot, and I always answer with the same thing: put out your best work and make sure you are constantly creating. If you build an appealing portfolio of top-notch material that you can share with potential clients, then it will be much easier to market yourself and stand out from the rest.
Want to get to know Victor a little better? Head to his website or Instagram page. And, if you’d like to learn how to take your own captivating photos, check out our Photography Basics series.