Chris Yee hits Central Park to mix things up for LEAP

Artistic freedom sounds like the greatest licence a creative can have. But with a whole world of possibilities before you, it can be daunting to decide on just what specifically you should dedicate yourself towards. In short, a brief can go a long way.

Which is why our friends at Canon have come up with LEAP. This awesome initiative encourages trained, training and trying photographers to hone their skills and improve their craft by supplying a new brief every day throughout the month of September.

Best of all, LEAP is community-based – it’s not just you and your lens out there, it’s a whole stack of people, who are offering tips, insights and inspiration into each daily brief.

Chris Yee – AKA Yee the East – brings a unique spin to photography, by combining his camera with his pencil.

Known for his illustration work (you may have seen his work on Zeds Dead’s single ‘Blame’) Chris is using LEAP as a chance to develop his photography.

We chatted with Chris about his Manga influences, the challenges photography presents for an illustrator, and the best ways to mix things up!

Tell us about your brief and how you approached it?

“My brief was to ‘mix things up’ and I tried to do that here in Central Park using perspective and lines, and trying to find points in the planes. The buildings have a lot of great scale and height to them, so it was a good place to mix things up scale-wise.”

What were your first thoughts on getting a brief?

“My first thoughts were trying to interpret the words and what they were trying to tell me into what I know creatively.

“I try to bring principles into illustration to mix things up, which means placing things in scale and finding things in perspective that I could see in the 2D plane as well as in real life.”

Where did you start?

“By trying to reference things in Manga or comic books – finding a focal point in the picture and trying to blow it out as far as possible with extreme foreshortening or extreme angles. Central Park was the perfect place.”

How did this brief help you find inspiration for today’s shoot?

“Through channeling exactly what I needed in the photo. It gave me an excuse to find things to put in for the right composition or in the foreground. Mixing it up was a good way to use perspective and composition.”

Does having a focal point with a clear call to action help when you’re approaching these sort of briefs?

“A focal point is great, especially in photography because when you see things not in the camera lens, everything is open-ended.

“But when you channel it and have a reason to shoot through a camera it gives you more of a basis to create your series and be more creatively succinct.”

Describe how you mix things up?

“Today in Central Park I mixed things up by finding scale in perspective. The buildings here are beautiful, modern and have a lot of lines for 3D architecture, so it’s the perfect place to shoot and make things look as warped out as possible.”

How did the brief challenge your normal process and get you to see things differently?

“It kept me on my feet and didn’t give me too much room to think about things – I just went into it and found the shots in the right location to let the brief and photography unfold itself.”

What’s different about that from your normal process?

“Because I’m shooting the real world there are a lot of elements you can’t account for – people, the environment – but it’s all part of the challenge. It helps you find something more unique and spontaneous in the end.”

Has your background as an illustrator helped with your concept?

“Yes. It helped to teach me the basics of perspective, focus points and horizon lines. I was really curious to see if these worked in the real world through the camera lens.”

What, if any, normal processes have you incorporated?

“I incorporated the idea of focus points and finding the point of an image in an abstract or normal composition – trying to find something to centre on and then push everything else into the background.”

Why do you think people should get involved with LEAP like you have?

“No matter your creative context, people should get involved with LEAP. It really helps you grow and learn how to channel your abilities. Having a brief to follow is good because you can always learn from your mistakes and errors, but you also learn from the good stuff that comes out of it.”

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.