Blue planet

Local student Sammy Freeman opened her very first exhibition over the weekend. Here’s why you need to check it out…

Turtle bay
Turtle Bay was taken very early one morning near Sai Kung in Hong Kong’s New Territories. It’s Freeman’s favourite image to be exhibited – “this particular morning I felt the earth was dancing for me.”

Your images are stunning. What inspired the fascination with water?

I think I was supposed to be born a fish or something. I’ve found if I’m out of the water for too long I get anxious and a little bit insane. After finding surfer magazine I was so inspired by the works of Chris Burkard and Clark little, I knew I had to combine the two passions of water and photography. I find that shooting the ocean is so unpredictable and exciting, yet so comfortable and natural to me. You never know what you’re going to come out with, no matter how much you plan.

How tough is it shooting aerial images?

Aerial images are getting more popular as technology develops. I invested in drone just six months back and have managed to practice non-stop, it’s so much fun. The drones are very user friendly making it easy to direct and control. It took a while to learn and gain confidence and I have crashed it a couple of times but that’s all part of the fun.

You studied at ESF King George V School in Ho Man Tin, what sparked your interest in photography?

I have been a creative being for as long as I can remember. My interest for photography came a lot later in life, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and needed spinal surgery at the age of 14. I had to give up playing rugby which was the end of everything (or so I thought at the time) and my parents bought me a basic SLR as a get well soon gift. I spent my recovering days in the garden taking photos of my dogs and fell in love with it

Was there a teacher who inspired you?

Mr Baker! He was my drama teacher and although he wasn’t an art or photography teacher, he seemed to have a huge impact on my creative pursuits. I didn’t have the best attention span in school but I think he could tell I had it in me to be better, he gave me an ‘E’ and I remember crying so much and changing my attitude in an instant. Thanks Mr B!

How did you develop your interest in school?

My hobby started developing into something more when I finally took photography as an A-Level in boarding school. I seemed to get more encouragement from teachers who saw I had an eye and a passion for photography than I ever got before, my work was featured in the school gallery a couple of times and I decided to start working on it more, putting in time for volunteer photography work to build up my CV.

You’ve travelled all over the world for your work, what’s been favourite destination?

I’ve been so lucky and I have never once taken it for granted. My favourite place is a tough toss up between Iceland and South Africa. South Africa for the incredible surf and amazing people and Iceland for the landscapes that are out of this world, I just wish I could somehow combine the two!

What’s your favourites piece so far?

A photograph I took in Iceland of an Arctic fox. The journey I took getting that photo and the memories it brings back when I’m looking at it are what I love most about it. I think that’s so important when looking at photography, it shouldn’t just look pretty, it should hold some sort of emotion that captivates you at the same time. What you see may be completely different to what someone else might see or feel.

Can you tell us about Turtle Bay (pictured above)?

This is my favourite piece in the current exhibition. It’s a drone photograph that I had in mind for a while before capturing it. I got up really early that morning so that the tide would be out (and I am NOT a morning person) and I managed to capture exactly what I wanted, if not more.

And after this exhibition, what plans do you have?

I would love to be able to make a career as a photographer, all my efforts right now are aimed in that direction. There’s a lot of skepticism and negativity around the subject as it is a tough industry to break into, but I believe I have the motivation, skills and head start needed to do so. I am so happy to have my first solo exhibition at H Studio, it’s such a great opportunity to have as an emerging photographer.

Any advice for budding young photographers in Hong Kong?

For sure! I definitely think it’s important to not get too hung up on photography gear. Some of my best and favorite shots have been taken on my iPhone and I think starting out this way really teaches you the raw form of the craft rather being all caught up in specs. Another piece of advice is to keep on going. Keep practising, experimenting and don’t be afraid to fail, it’s all part of the learning process.

Jade Jungle, Crimson City runs until Nov 30, 12-4pm (closed Wednesday), H Studio, 1/1 Wan King Path, Sai Kung, www.sammyfreeman.com

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beyondthehighrise

I'm a freelance writer and editor living in Hong Kong.

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