Interview with Stefan Irvine, a freelance photographer based in Hong Kong

Stefan was so kind to send us some amazing photos. Check them out beneath the interview or click here. He’s also worked on the PanoramaStreetline project together with our previous interviewee Jörg Dietrich.

Who are you?

Stefan IrvineI’m Stefan Irvine, a freelance photographer based in Hong Kong. Although I started out in photojournalism, I am also known for interior and architectural photography, and most recently I have collaborated on fine art photography projects.

Where do you call ‘home’ and what do you like about it?

Although the word ‘home’ will always make me think of England, Hong Kong has really been my home for the last 15 years. There is an incredible energy here, with endless visual inspiration. Not many people know that over 60% of Hong Kong’s territory is country park, so it’s easy to escape the city and explore wonderful mountains and beaches.

Describe your favourite place to work and the view out the window.

My favourite place to work currently is my home studio. When I’m not out shooting on location, you can find me editing images at home on the 43rd floor, where I am lucky to have an amazing view of the South China Sea.ViewfromHomeStudio

Where do you find inspiration? Where do you ‘get lost’?

I often find inspiration in the tiny details of nature, whether it’s during a hike through a forest, or snowboarding in the Alps. I also try to visit galleries and art fairs for inspiration – the art scene in Hong Kong has grown exponentially in recent years. With the arrival of Art Basel a few years ago, I can get lost in the paintings, sculptures and photography from all over the world.

What is your favourite way to get around and why?

If I can get there on foot, I’ll walk. For me, it’s the best way to find hidden parts of any city, which could eventually become subjects for a photography project. The next best option in Hong Kong is the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), which is fast, affordable, air-conditioned, and spotlessly clean.

Describe a trend in your industry, or in society more generally, that fascinates you.

It has been interesting to watch the “democratisation of photography” during the last ten years or so. Digital cameras and smartphones have reduced the barriers to entry; so far, that almost anyone can be a photographer today. This is a wonderful thing, but of course it is also a challenge for professionals to maintain an edge.

Name your favourite spot to hang out when you’re off work.

One of my favourite places to hang out is the Foreign Correspondents Club, one of the region’s best-known press clubs. Located within a beautiful colonial building in Central Hong Kong, its main bar is a legendary hang-out for local and international reporters. They also have outstanding exhibitions of documentary photographs.ForeignCorrespondentsClubHongKong

Name and describe your favourite city.

Edinburgh is right up there as one of my top cities. Perfectly-sized, it boasts breathtaking architecture, world-class cultural and entertainment scenes, and yet you can be deep in the countryside within 30 minutes, with the Highlands and islands beyond.

Name one object you cannot live without and tell us why.

My passport. Although Hong Kong is a great place to live, sometimes you need to get away from it all, and there are many wonderful destinations just a short flight away.

What’s the most or least exciting thing you’ve got coming up this week?

This week, I’ll be preparing for a trip to the upcoming Photofairs Shanghai, which is an art fair devoted to photography, now in its second year. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of great photography from around Asia and beyond, and I’m also keen to see how Shanghai has changed since I last visited about six years ago.

You have exactly one minute to share your vision with our readers about anything you want.

For guiding principles in my personal photography work, I have always borrowed from the BBC’s mission statement: ‘to inform, educate, and entertain’. If I can also give people pleasure through my art, that would be hugely rewarding for me too.

Website: Stefan Irvine

Some of Stefan’s work is displayed below. Click on an image to view the full size version and additional information.