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The Olivier Wong Interview

Feature - The Olivier Wong Interview - FilterGrade
Olivier Wong is a French photographer based in Paris shooting incredible street and lifestyle scenes not only in France, but all over the world.
Continue reading below to find out how Olivier became the talented travel photographer that he is today.

The Olivier Wong Interview - FilterGrade

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and background. When was the first time you had a camera in your hands?

I am a photographer based in Paris, France! I work as an engineer in the energy industry. I was born and grew up in Reunion Island, a French overseas department located in the Indian Ocean! It is a beautiful island where beaches, mountains, and waterfalls meet.

I arrived in Paris in 2013 to work as an engineer and just felt in love with this city. The architecture and way of life seduced me! This is only in late 2013 that I started to be interested in photography (pretty late huh!) as I signed up on Instagram. At that time, I knew nothing about photography and I started to shoot with my smartphone. After a whole year of mobile photography, I bought my first DSLR camera in June 2014 and this is when I decided to fully invest myself in this beautiful art.

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What and/or who were some of your inspirations when you first began shooting?

As I told before, I began shooting at the same time as I signed up on Instagram and this is why my main inspirations came from social media. Instagram is full of amazing creators which helped me discover photography, think outside the box, and play with new perspectives! To name a few: @vutheara, @hannes_becker, @doyoutravel, @chelseakauai, @taramilktea.

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How do you think these influences played a role on your work?

I guess the most difficult part in photography is to find your own style. Thanks to these influences, I was able to experiment new ways of shooting such as taking puddle-grams, shooting at night, or playing with light and shadow. It took me several years of practice to eventually find a photography style I am happy with. My work is now mostly about urban and city photography during the golden hour.

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What kind of photography equipment did you use when you first started?

I started with a smartphone (Nokia Lumia 1020) and shot with it for a whole year – it helped me enjoy photography as I was only thinking about composition and framing without having to worry about the technical side. Mobile photography was definitely a great way for me to start as it was accessible, user-friendly, and powerful. I was editing with some apps on the phone, which was really fast and straight forward.

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How has your equipment changed since your first started and what impact do you think equipment (camera, lens, etc…) has on a photographer?

After a year of shooting with my smartphone, I decided to buy my first DSLR (a Canon 700d) because I felt limited by mobile photography in terms of aperture, zooming and editing. This equipment upgrade gave me more opportunities to express my creativity and also experiment new kind of pictures, such as architecture and portrait shots. My first lenses were a wide-angle lens (10-18mm) and a prime lens (50mm f/1.8). I personally think that having a ‘good’ camera does not make you a ‘good’ photographer – the technique is important, but the point of view, creativity and editing are what makes a great photographer.

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What is it about travel photography that you find the most interesting?

When I was young, I hated to travel. I had the chance to visit many countries during my childhood, but I did not fully enjoy the trips. This all changed when I started taking photos. Indeed, photography gives me the opportunity to visit cities and countries with fresh eyes and the point of view of a photographer. Now, every time I travel to a new place, I take pictures because I think every place has something interesting and beautiful to shoot. What interests me the most in travel photography is the ability to capture the essence and emotions of the places, which can be architecture, landscapes, or even people. Every place in the world is unique and everyone can document its feelings with their own photography  – this is what makes photography a wonderful art.

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What are some things you always make sure of when planning a trip?

To not forget my photography equipment!

I guess my camera is the first thing on my packing list. Depending on the location and the length of the trip, I might also bring my computer to do some live editing and my drone for aerial shots. For some places I know I am about to shoot a lot, I also inform myself about the best photography spots and always check the weather and the direction of the sun to find locations that could be perfect for sunrise or sunset.

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Where are some of your favorite places on earth to shoot and why?

This is a big question. So far among all the places I had the chance to visit, here are my top 3:

  1. Paris – This is the city where I began photography and it inspires me the most! There are so many opportunities to shoot here, from the wonderful monuments like Eiffel Tower or the Louvre to the charming districts like Montmartre. I really love how dynamic this city is and what I love the most is shooting during sunrise when the touristic places are empty and the golden light hits the buildings and streets.
  2. The Highlands of Scotland – I visited the Highlands of Scotland in October 2016 and it is still one of my favorite trips. This part of Scotland offers gorgeous sceneries with its mountains, lochs, and castles! You always stumble upon photogenic places while road tripping around.
  3. Italy – I went to this country 5 times as I visited different cities and regions (Rome, Cinque Terre, Dolomites, Venice, Florence, etc.). I always enjoy discovering and shooting in each of this places. I really love the people, the food, the way of life, and the colorful architecture of these Italian places.
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What is your process like after a photoshoot?

I use Adobe Lightroom to edit all my pictures. After a photoshoot, I typically import all the RAW pictures in my Lightroom catalog and do a quick sorting and ranking to select the pictures that I will edit. This takes approximately 15 minutes to have a good selection. Afterwards, I edit the pictures mainly using my own custom presets, which saves me lots of time especially when traveling. Post-processing is an important part of my photography as well, I could easily spend hours on Lightroom to edit my pictures or experiment with new settings!

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Do you have any special tips for editing landscapes?

When editing landscapes, here are some tips that I might be able to follow:

  • Recompose to create stunning composition: Some landscape pictures looks better when reframed as it can have too much information that can distract the viewer’s eyes. Sometimes, it is better to crop and maybe replace the horizon line to give more impact to your composition.
  • Add gradient filters to create a more balanced image: Usually, landscape pictures have dark and bright areas for example a well-exposed sky with a dark foreground. By using gradient filters, you can lighten the dark part of the picture and on the contrary, darken the part of the picture that is a bit over-exposed.
  • Give more impact to your sky with HSL tool: If you are shooting during sunrise or sunset, you might have a beautiful and colorful sky that you are willing to capture. But sometimes, the colors on the RAW pictures do not pop like what you have seen. Thanks to the HSL tool, you can easily adjust the colors individually and choose to boost the warm tones by increase the saturation of orange or yellow for example.

Olivier has been shooting for quite some time now and he doesn’t plan on stopping soon – feel free to connect wit him and stay updated with his work by following him on his social media!

Also, be sure to check out his incredible Lightroom Presets to help you edit your travel and architectural photos. :)

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