By ANGELIN YEOH
VINCENT Paul Yong began developing his passion for photography at a young age. He got his first point-and-shoot camera at 11 and growing up, he decided to pursue photography as a career.
Unfortunately, that ambition had to be put on hold.
“My parents thought there was no future in it – so I had to do something else. That’s how I ended up with a degree in Electrical Engineering,” Yong said during an interview in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
In 2004, Yong started his stint as a freelance photographer and said the job gave him a whole new perspective on what the industry is really like. For starters, it’s not as “glamourous” as most people assume it would be. He vividly remembers the agony of constantly chasing clients just to get paid for his work.
“I had a day job as an assistant technician and I gave that up to commit to photography full-time. Of course that wasn’t easy, because whenever my clients are late with my fee, I struggled financially. It was a very humbling experience.”
Besides facing financial difficulties, Yong also had to prove himself to his naysayers.
“My parents were questioning me, asking why was I putting myself through all that. Plus, I was a self-taught photographer. When people looked at my work, they thought I was being ‘experimental’ and that I had no consistency.”
However, Yong never regretted his decision to pursue his dream career. If there’s one good thing that came out from facing his critics, it would be how their negative comments pushed him to keep moving forward. He developed his photography skills and found his niche in using the medium to tell stories.
“I have a very meticulous approach. I focus on the subject I want to photograph and highlight it. I don’t want to overwhelm the subject with unnecessary elements. That way, the viewer is focused on the story I want to tell.”
Yong’s tenacity to make it as a respected photographer paid off.
Today, he is one of the most highly sought-after fashion photographer in the country. His portfolio includes deejays Goldfish and Blink, top model Angie Ng, renowned fashion designer Paul Smith and international jeanswear label, Levi’s®.
On top of all that, he is also the founder of Studio Verve; an art and design visual production studio located in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
In July last year, Levi’s® launched the Go Forth global marketing campaign to celebrate the “can-do” spirit of the youth and their desire to make a positive difference in the world. The powerhouse brand honoured Yong as one of their Go Forth pioneers.
Yong humbly accepted the recognition, and said he is still “very shy” about getting the honour.
“I honestly never thought of myself as a pioneer in any sense! But I’m very honoured. It’s nice to know that I have the ability to inspire others to go forth with their dreams and make their ambitions a reality.
“I believe the younger generation today has every chance to do the things they like; they just have to work hard and stick to their primary goal. Don’t get sidelined, focus on your niche and do what you love.”