To view Liam Wong‘s photography is to enter a new universe. Although he creates work that’s tethered to the here and now, Wong isn’t afraid to take artistic liberties and tread outside the bounds of reality. The majority of his work features Tokyo after midnight, a time that even locals may rarely see. Through masterful command of color, his images of the city’s lights and signage drip with a heightened sense of mood and mystery. They hint at stories and worlds just beyond reach. As a former art director at Ubisoft, his work is directly inspired by video games and the escape they offer.
Liam Wong 的摄影作品让人有种时空转换的错觉。虽然拍摄的是当下的世界，但摄影师却大胆发挥自己的艺术创意，游走于现实的界限之外。他的大部分作品都拍摄于东京的午夜，往往在这个时间段，街上当地人的身影也寥寥无几……通过对色彩的出色把控，他照片中所拍摄的东京城市的灯光和商铺招牌，涌动着丰富的情绪和神秘感。似乎在暗示一段画面以外的故事和世界。作为 Ubisoft 前任艺术总监，他的作品灵感正来源于电子游戏和其中的虚拟世界。
Wong almost never traveled as a child. But when he landed a job after graduation and moved to Montreal, Canada, the world opened up for him. “I didn’t really have the money to travel growing up,” Wong recalls. “The first time I went to Tokyo was in 2014 for business, and I immediately knew I wanted to come back.” These work trips inspired him to take photos, mainly on his phone at first. But beyond creating visual travel logs for himself and close friends, he also shot reference images for work. “One time in Tokyo I did a full sweep of an alley, up and down every surface to capture the weather and texture and grime. Everyone who works in games takes reference photos.”
小时候，Liam 一直没有机会外出旅游。但当他毕业后来到加拿大蒙特利尔工作，眼前像是打开了全新的世界。“我小时候真的没有钱去旅游。直到 2014 年出差时才第一次去了东京，我当时就觉得我会再来的。”Liam Wong 回忆道。出差途中他开始拍摄照片，最初主要都是用手机来拍摄。除了拍照给自己留念或分享给好友，他还会拍摄工作用的参考图片。“一次东京之行，我在一条小巷子里来回拍照，用相机捕捉下每一个角落，包括天气、周围环境的表面和污垢。因为从事游戏行业工作，需要用照片的形式进行参考。”
Once Wong made the leap and bought a DSLR camera, his coworkers taught him the basics of photography. “That was a steep learning curve, but there were a lot of people around me who didn’t mind answering my stupid questions,” he laughs. “Sometimes at lunch we’d walk around alleyways and they’d show me tricks. I already knew what was wrong with the photos I took. It was the technical side that was the hard part.” Eventually, he started an Instagram and the immediate feedback the platform offered motivated him to take his photography further.
Soon the desire to focus on his own creative endeavors took hold and Wong decided to leave his job. “We had just wrapped up a big game and I had a bunch of compensation time, plus my apartment lease was about to run out, so it was like, now or never,” he says. He moved back to the UK for a while and then spent a few months in Japan, trying to figure out what he wanted to do. All the while, he continued to take photos, building a body of work that was slowly gaining a loyal online following. “It felt much better working on my own ideas.”
随着 Liam 的摄影技术快速进步，他又买了一台单反相机，请同事教他摄影的基础知识。“那是拍照技术直线提升的时期，幸好我身边有许多人不介意回答我各种愚蠢的问题。”他笑着说，“有时候吃完午饭，我们会在小巷里闲逛，他们就会跟我分享一些拍照的技巧。我知道自己拍摄的照片问题出在哪里。技术是最困难的部分。”后来，他开设了一个 Instagram 帐号，在上面分享照片，从平台上获得的即时反馈，也促使他更进一步提升自己的摄影水平。
不久后， Liam 想要专注于自己的创作，遂辞去了工作。“我们当时刚刚结束了一个大型的游戏项目，我有一堆补休的时间，再加上我的公寓租期快到了，所以我当时就觉得机不可失，时不再来。”他说道。搬回英国生活了一段时间，他又去日本呆了几个月，试图理清自己想做的事情。在这期间，他没有中断摄影，慢慢累积自己的作品，在网上也吸引了越来越多的忠实粉丝。“能够按照自己的想法来创作，这感觉好多了。”
When Wong comes across a scene he likes, it’s not as straightforward as pressing the shutter button. It’s often a game of patience. He’ll wait for the right moment—for a person to enter the frame or for day to turn to night. Sometimes, though, he admits there is an element of luck. “There’s one picture of a girl in a taxi that I didn’t even know I took until I went back and looked at my camera roll.”
Rather than simply capturing reality as is, Wong’s snapshots are often just a base he uses to build his final image. “For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself a photographer, because I thought photography is about the shot itself with limited editing. I never thought to take artistic liberties,” he says. It wasn’t until he found a book of work by Syd Mead, a concept artist of Blade Runner fame, that Wong began seeing the creative possibilities of the medium. “My approach to photography is similar to filmmaking, in how they take a shot and build off it with color grades and adding effects. It’s less photography in the traditional sense and more of a hybrid. I’m not a photojournalist.”
Liam 的摄影并非简单地捕捉现实，而是他用来创作最终作品的基础。“在很长的时间，我不认为自己是一个摄影师，因为我觉得摄影主要是拍摄，对照片只能做少量的后期编辑。我从未想过真正的艺术自由创作。”他说。直到他读了《银翼杀手》的概念艺术指导赛得·米德（Syd Mead）的一本作品集，他才开始看到媒介创作的可能性。“我的摄影方式与电影制作类似，在电影制作中，人们拍摄影像后，通过颜色处理和添加特效来打造最终的成品。从传统意义上来说，这不算摄影，更多是一种混合创作。毕竟我也不是摄影记者。”
Earlier this year, he announced a photo book titled TO:KY:OO, which marks the first time he worked with print. “There are some photos that look better on the screen than they do in print,” he says.“I even had to re-edit shots for the book.” His publishers are also helping him put together gallery shows, which he plans to debut in different cities early next year. “In Canada, they printed up one image the size of a door frame. I’d never seen one of my photos with that much detail before. I pretty much stick to a 13-inch Macbook screen, so it was overwhelming. The possibilities of print are exciting.” The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
These days, photography has completely taken over his life. Wong can’t go anywhere without a camera. If he doesn’t at the very least have a phone to take photos, he feels guilty: “It’s very hard to turn off now. The thing I love most is getting that one perfect shot and going home to look at it. It’s really rewarding.”
今年早些时候，他为摄影作品集《TO：KY：OO》做了预推广，这是他第一次接触印刷作品。“有一些照片在屏幕上看起来比打印出来的效果更好。”他说，“我甚至要为出版的书重新编辑了一些照片。”他的出版商也在帮他策划画廊展览，计划于明年初在不同城市亮相。“在加拿大，照片会被放大到门框那么大的尺寸。我从来没有见过我的照片呈现出如此多的细节。我一直都是用 13 英寸的 Macbook 笔记本处理图片，所以打印出来的照片让我很震撼。印刷作品的效果真是令人兴奋。”本书现在已可在亚马逊接受预定。