Eileen Chang – Behind the Lens

Eileen began just as a younger sister taking photos of her older brother’s band. Since then, she has shifted from concerts to portraits. Check out her story below.

Say hello to Eileen:

Photo credit: Alexander Losch

Where are you from? Where have you been?

Hi, my name is Eileen Chang and I’m from Hamburg, Germany. I have Chinese roots, but I was born and raised in Germany.

I’ve been to several different countries (like Hong Kong, the U.S., Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore) and to some other countries in Europe for some trips. My whole family is scattered all around the globe so we have good reasons to go there and explore places, mostly in Asia and America. Hong Kong is the place that we visit most often because my grandma lived there, so it’s the only other place I really feel familiar with.

What’s your favorite place in the world?

Hong Kong is my favorite place because I associate it with good memories. I guess living there though would be too stressful for me because the city is always crowded and people are in rush; but sometimes, I enjoy that the city is always in action. Besides that, there are also a lot of places which are in more of its natural state with little to no crowds. What I need is a good balance between both. What I like are also the alleys with those tiny stalls where you can buy stuff you don’t actually need. 😉

Early mornings in Hong Kong

How would you describe your visual style?

For me, it’s more about my sense of aesthetics and the mood that I want to convey.

I try to enhance these without making things look too unnatural.

How do you find your inspiration?

Being around other photographers. Together,  dealing with photography makes me want to try new things out!

Have you ever considered what career path you would’ve pursued had you not chosen photography?

I’m still at the very beginning of my career in photography and, of course, I am still following this path. I am also very passionate about making music, singing, and painting, and would like to do all those things. At the moment, I’m focusing on my illustration studies and photography is something I do as long as I have enough free time. However, these are all artistic hobbies, which is hard to become successful with. So, I’m still finding my way.

Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?

I started taking photos for others by actually taking pictures of my brother’s school band back then.

I mean, you have to capture the moment of your big brother’s success! Members of other bands came and asked me if I also took pictures of them, so I started shooting photos of other bands as well. If they like them, they book me for their next gig.

What types of photography do you do?

I just recently started doing portrait photography which is a big contrast to the loud and very lively concerts. Doing both is a good change. What I like about portrait photography, compared to concert photography, is that you can take your time for that good shot and have an artistic license in terms of the location, surroundings, styling, model, and pose.

Landscape and architecture are also interesting and beautiful, but I like the flexibility that you have with a model.

Of the photos you’ve taken, which three are your favorite?

This photo was taken three years ago on a class trip to Berlin. We were just hanging out with a group of people at the former Tempelhof Airport. It was such a pretty atmosphere with that big cloud ceiling, but also the bright and warm light of the sun coming through. We didn’t know that a thunderstorm was coming up every other moment so this was a very spontaneous shot of my classmate enjoying the view. For me, this scene just reflects freedom and a peaceful silence. When I look at it, I can still feel the tension that is going on in the sky…

This was the first portrait photoshoot that was kind of planned. Actually, two friends of mine and I wanted to meet again after a while of not seeing each other and we thought it would be fun to go out and take some pictures. And I was very motivated to do their makeup, so we did that. It was more about spending time with each other with an informal atmosphere. I am really happy how the picture turned out. Not only because of how beautiful this shot that I got of her is, but also because I had an image of the kind of look I wanted to achieve, and it pretty much turned out that way!

This photo was taken analog. At our university, we have the opportunity to work in a photo lab and learn how to develop film and how to expose a photo on paper. I’ve never had experience with analog photography before. It is really exciting because you never know how the pictures will turn out. I also had to shoot completely manual, so I didn’t know if the exposure was right and I was afraid that you wouldn’t recognize anything at the end. This is one of my favorite shots of the film. (You can actually see the scratches and stains that I didn’t work very clean while developing.) I like the motif a lot ( – my boyfriend :P), with direct sunlight on half of his face and the shadow of the dreamcatcher on the other. It actually was really exhausting to get this shot, because I had to hold the dreamcatcher very high with one hand and hold the heavy camera with the other shaky hand, then the wind came and ruined the shadow, then he was blinded by the sun…and then finally you took one shot, and you don’t really know if it was a good shot, haha. But, because of the effort that the photo took, I am happy and proud of it.

What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?

Not be afraid to be themselves.

How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?

Most of the models that I chose are people I already know, and sometimes there are very spontaneous shoots, so people are not fixed about how they look, but just being themselves. It’s always good to get to know your model first before you shoot with them. Usually, at the beginning of a shoot, I let the models do their own poses, so you can see how they present themselves. Then I try to add suggestions for what else they can do and you’ll notice if they feel comfortable in a pose or not. Then when we try something different and you’ll find out what the best direction to go with them is!

How do you express yourself through your photography?

You always reflect a part of your personality through your artworks, because it’s your way of perspective through the lens and you have your own taste of what looks good to you, which colors you prefer, and so on. For me, I guess the color mood in my pictures reflects my personality. I’m not a fan of colors too bright, they are more subdued and not too loud and crazy. I am more of a realistic type and want to keep some look of naturalness.

What kind of gear do you have? What’s your favorite and why?

For a long time, I worked with the Canon EOS 700d. I thought it was a good camera for me, just as a hobby photographer. I wanted a tilting display for filming myself – and the touchscreen made things a bit easier. After a while, I realized that photography is something I want to earn money with, so the quality of my pictures wasn’t good enough for me, especially in low-light locations. So I just recently upgraded my camera body to a second-hand 5D Mark III and the 700d is my backup camera. At special events, you don’t always have the time or opportunity to change your lens, so two camera bodies are always helpful and worth the neck and shoulder pain. For portrait photography, my favorite lens is the Canon 50mm 1.4, because it blurs the background softly out, so the face of the model really stands out. Besides that, it is very light and affordable. When it comes to capturing more of the scenario, I use the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L II USM, also a good “all-rounder” lense.

What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

What I do is save my edit settings all the time, so I create my own presets. From always reusing my settings and adjusting them to different scenarios, I could achieve certain looks that I wouldn’t know how to re-create again. But simultaneously, I have a bunch of presets – my own individual presets, that I use for most of my photographs – that gives them my personalized look.

What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?

Seeing the world with different eyes, seeing beauty in things that others don’t. There are many situations when you’re vexed about not having your camera with you because you want to capture the moment in a picture and maybe share it with other people. But it also makes me appreciate more the tiny beautiful moments where you don’t look through the lenses, but just enjoy the moment for yourself and make them unforgettable by living it.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Travel more on my own, explore things I personally would like to.

For anyone that wants to get in touch with Eileen, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Instagram: @eileenchane | @littleleenx3 (Personal)

Facebook: LittleLeen (Photography, Art, Music)

Eileen, we are really glad you entered our photo contest and thank you for sharing your story!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iOS or Android!

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