Eric Lau，來自紐約的香港業餘街頭攝影師。有一天收到來自 Eric Lau 的訊息，看了他的經歷之後感覺他是個非常有活力跟創意的人。除了街頭攝影之外，Eric 還是 Miami Ad School 最年輕的講師，也製作過全球最大的 Lego – Star Wars X-Wing 並展示於紐約時代廣場，曾於紐約開過多次攝影個展，令我眼睛為之一亮的是他在紐約的第一個攝影個展的照片全部都是用iPhone拍攝的。為了維持訪談內容的原意，除了第一段（截自他的個展簡介），後面的內容我只翻譯了大致上的意思。
Who is Eric Kt Lau?
When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression, and art form, a profession?
When I was 15, I started doing design for high school projects and that was when I started to take photos. I was working at the school newspaper and school magazines for my high school and was mainly using photography as a tool for my design.
Are you a full-time photographer or would you describe yourself as a serious enthusiast? If not a full time photographer, when do you take photos? weekends? or on daily basis?
I don’t make any money from photography so I would describe myself as a serious enthusiast. I take photos on a daily basis since I switched to my iPhone as my main camera 18 months ago. Before that, I mostly took photos only during weekends and when I traveled.
Eric 在廣告公司工作，並不是全職攝影師。他形容自己只是個攝影愛好者。大多時間都是用 iPhone 拍攝。週末比較會用相機出去攝影。
Did you have any formal education in photography, with a mentor, or were you self taught. Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
My passion was first sparked by a photoshoot during a summer internship in Hong Kong. The photographer had created powerful images with cameras and light, which I found very impressive. Although studio photography was out of my curriculum as a communication design student, I put together a body of work that had convinced the department of chair that I could handle the class. In the year that I pursued studio photography, I soon found studio photography too clinical and artificial for my liking. My interest was re-ignited after 2 years, by a friend of mine who invited me on a trip to Brooklyn for street photography. I was deeply inspired by the spontaneity of street photography. Not only this has become a way for me to explore the street and get to know my hood and city better, it also launched me on a journey to visit many countries where I made many connections with strangers, which led to many stories and conversations.
I took a street photography class with Harvey Stein at the International Center of Photography. Harvey had inspired me to get closer to my subject, and use wider a lens. I would probably still be stuck with my 50mm as my only lens if he didn’t show me how much fun it is to shoot with a 21 mm.
What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
I continue to be inspired by the spontaneity of street photography. It’s not only become a way for me to explore and to know my neighborhood and city better, it’s led me on a journey to visit different lands and cities.
What is your daily gears on the street?
Before 2009: DSLR body, 20 mm, 50 mm, 80-200mm
2010-2014: Leica M7, 50 mm (one body, one lens, shooting only b&w)
2015 onwards: iPhone
As you can see, I am going lighter and simpler. I find myself a more joyful photographer, carrying less, practicing more frequently, and I’m happier with the result.
What do you think is the most important thing in photography?
Everyone has a different approach to photography. I think the most important thing is probably be personal so your work has a unique voice.
How do you define a “good” photograph?
A good photograph should raise questions and awareness. Like a great piece of art, everyone should be able to see something different in it and there are different ways to interpret it.
Some say New York city is a paradise for street photographers, can you share some interesting experiences while photographing in New York?
One time I was on my way home after work. I was riding on the 6 train. Two teenagers tried to get onto the train when the door was closing. One of them managed to get in, but his friend didn’t made it. He tried to force the door open and his friend was laughing at him in the face as he was trapped on the platform. The whole drama lasted for around 10 seconds, I ended up with this interesting photo with a teenager trying to open the door and his friend pointing a finger in his face.
How would you describe your photography?
Can you tell us more about “<Detour: From the street of NYC to The Americas>”? What inspired you to pursuit this topic?
For many people, America equals the USA. However, America is really the entire continent. Since moving to NYC in 2005, I’ve been exploring the America(delete colon) based in NYC. I had combed through the streets of Belize, Guatemala, Cuba, Ecuador, Columbia, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Honduras. Although some of these explorations were short in duration, these images recorded my first impression to this vibrant street scene: focusing on people and action, with added layers of texture from local architecture, costumes, and traditions. The exhibition is named Detour, as photography had given me the courage and reason to explore.
Who’s your favorite photographer and why?
Ho Fan, Steve McCurry, Sebastian Salgado, Henri C Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Nikos Economopoulos
It is hard to say who is my favorite out of these photographers. I think Ho Fan is probably my favorite out of these. I admire his unique vision of turning something very ordinary into something extraordinary.
我喜歡的攝影師有 何藩, Steve McCurry, Sebastian Salgado, Henri C Bresson, Elliott Erwitt 以及 Nikos Economopoulos。我最喜歡的是何藩，他能將非常平凡的畫面捕捉的非常不平凡。
Any final words for aspiring street photographers out there?
Keep shooting, and keep things simple.
Keep the intention simple
I think it is harder to shoot what you love and to make a living out of it at the same time. If you have only one goal instead of trying to do both, you will have a much easier time.
Keep your gear simple
You really don’t need a fancy camera to take good pictures. My first photo featured in the New York Times was shot with an iPhone; same with every single photo in my first solo exhibition. The gear is rarely the bottleneck of your photography. Instead of focusing on technique and technical details, I think people will shoot better photos if they focus instead on better understanding themselves and what they are interested in.
我建議喜歡街頭攝影的朋友不要停止拍攝。保持你的目的簡單，對我來說要用嗜好來賺錢很不容易，我建議喜歡拍照就好好拍，不要一直想要去賺錢，可能心情會輕鬆一點。我也建議讓器材簡潔一點，我第一張被 紐約時報刊登的照片就是用iPhone拍的。我在紐約第一場攝影個展裡的每一張照片也都是用 iPhone 拍的。我不認為攝影會被器材影響。專注，了解自己，以及瞭解自己想要拍攝的內容才是重點。
謝謝 Eric 的分享。Eric 在台灣的展覽一直到 2/28。有時間的朋友可以去看看喔！