Denise Kwong takes a LEAP and follows the light

It’s a big, beautiful world out there – so big and beautiful, in fact, that it can be hard to decide just what to train your expert (or developing expert) lens on. So our friends at Canon have come up with LEAP – an awesome way of keeping creative photographers on task.

LEAP is – in the vein of so many great ideas – brilliantly simple. Every day throughout the month of September, LEAP provides a new brief, providing a focal point for you and the community of photographers getting stuck in.

The community are then encouraged to share their work, and offer each other ideas and inspiration.

Over the coming days we’ll be chatting to six of Australia’s best and brightest creatives about how LEAP has helped with their process. Today, we’re chatting to Instagram champion Denise Kwong.

From humble beginnings – a smartphone at Bondi’s ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ and an Instagram account – Denise now has over 60,000 followers on Instagram, who have seen her style develop.

Denise filled us in on her brief, how she approached it, and what inspiration a focal point provided.

Tell us about your brief for LEAP and how you approached it?

“My brief for the LEAP challenge was ‘Follow the Light’

“When I think light, there are two aspects: either natural lighting from the sun, or artificial lighting.

“Obviously light is the focus of the challenge, so I wanted an environment where it allowed the light to shine – whether it’s from creating shadows or whether it’s light shining through a window or through gaps amongst trees. So when I was thinking of where I wanted to shoot, that played heavily on my mind.”

How did this brief help you find inspiration for the shoot?

“Having a brief means you have something to focus all your creative energy towards. Usually when you’re approaching a shoot you’re so overwhelmed with everything that you don’t have a focus point, but by having a brief you have something you can drive towards.

“So you can channel all your creative energy into thinking about something to make the highlight.”

How did having this brief challenge your normal processes, make you see things a little bit differently?

“Obviously with something with light, you can’t control the day, the environment – you can’t say, ‘I want sunshine’, you can’t say ‘I want this element’, so you have to work with what you have on the day, and that does make you look at things differently.

“How can you look at it creatively, where are you? Are there shadows, do you have branches of trees where the light shines through?

“So you have to look around you and try and make light the hero.

Why should people get involved with LEAP?

“Because it’s a great way to challenge you in a creative sense. It makes you look at your environment differently, it makes you focus on a certain element within your environment.”

How do you use light in your creative process?

“I use light to highlight my subjects. My photos have a lot of emotion, whether it’s from people’s faces or human body or hands and arms.”

How do you normally approach a creative shoot?

“It really depends on my environment and what’s around me, what the weather conditions are like, and what props I may have on me at the time.”

Why this location?

“I chose this location because there are a lot of elements which allow the light to hit it. There’s water reflection, archways, trees – lots of interesting ways that light can cast a shadow.

How is following the light different in a brief in terms of how you approach it?

“This brief is different to what I would normally shoot. Despite the fact that I use light a lot, the challenge is what is ‘follow the light’?

“Is it chasing light? Is it finding where the light is and almost getting there but not quite making it? The challenge is trying to do the ‘follow’ part in a creative way.”

What are you going to do today?

“I brought a friend along to be my model for the day so I’m just to see what works, what shadows are casting. I’ve also brought some props to help if need, I’ll just see what this environment might give me.

Tell us about how the shoot went?

“First of all, I was lucky that the sun finally came out and we got some really nice, direct sunlight. It also a bit glarey, so I wanted some way to direct the sunlight somehow, so I brought this prism, which created a really nice rainbow effect which we reflected onto the wall. I liked the way it was just a spot of rainbow coloured light on a blank backdrop.

“Essentially the rainbow was the light and it was my interpretation of following that light.”

What were the techniques that you used?

“The space that I was working in was actually quite small and tight, so the only angle I could have gone was straight-on, because we were in an archway. But that worked out for the shot, because we had to be nice and close.

“It was a very direct spot of colour, it was just a blank wall, so being nice and close worked well.

“Because the space is quite big and the focus was light, as per my brief, I wanted to centralise it without the distraction of what else was around it.

“I wanted that source of light to be the main subject matter of the shot.”

If you’re ready to think abstractly, push the boundaries, expand your creativity, and LEAP out of your comfort zone, then you can find out more about the Canon LEAP project here. Stay tuned to Lost At E Minor for more interviews and videos over the coming weeks with our creative guides.

Denise Kwong - LEAP Image

About the author

Joe likes to write about himself in the third person, even if he thinks it’s horribly pretentious when others do it.

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