At just 21 years of age in the midst of National Service, Lee Yik Keat has shot breathtaking photos for Ultra Music Festival, Singapore Tourism Board and Adidas, among other big-name clients.
Yik Keat’s knack for getting the perfect shot has made him a household name in social media circles- earning him a well-deserved 180k follower on Instagram. Despite having a reputation that precedes him, the reserved photographer prefers to stay in the background; letting his work do all the talking.
Utilising a combination of well-honed technique and steady hands, he’s successfully turned once-fleeting moments into picturesque pieces of still art, capturing people and bathing landmarks like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay in hues thought unimaginable.
Instagram may have given Yik Keat the platform needed to showcase his work, but it isn’t the only factor that’s paved the way for the burning passion you see today.
Just a few years back, Yik Keat helped his relatives with deliveries in Singapore. Call it coincidence or perfect timing, but Instagram was still in its infancy, and many of its users were sharing amazing pictures of their city. He found the perfect opportunity to share his shots of the concrete jungle as he traversed the island, finding angles missed by the naked eye. “The time that I spent taking those shots created the spark,” he admits.
Before Yik Keat knew it, he saw a steady increase in fans. Spikes of followers would come when his profile made it to Instagram’s Suggested Users feature, but other than that, the growth has been consistent and most importantly, organic.
Looking at Yik Keat’s photos, it’s hard to believe that he’s an introverted individual. With words unable to convey the depth of his thoughts, Yik Keat longed for an outlet where he could express his feelings. His foray into photography gave him that and more, letting him evoke the gamut of emotions often lost in today’s world of instant gratification.
Even more admirable is his source of inspiration—music. Call it weird or unconventional, but as Yik Keat plugs into favourite tunes, before taking images. While other photographers scour the Internet to feed their creativity, he takes to the streets to understand the environment.
Tokyo, Japan has also become a second home to the self-professed urban lover. Yik Keat points out that the stories to be told are aplenty, be it from the busy streets of Shibuya or the dingy back alleys.
The hype of six-digit Instagram followers does not fool Yik Keat, for he acknowledges that nothing is forever and the uncertainty of not knowing what’s next is ever real. “I always believe your work speaks for you, so I always put the best work out there and approach people whom I do not even know personally,” he says. “There’s no harm in doing that. Who knows what will happen?”
In 2018, he holds bigger dreams as he intends to go full speed ahead upon completion of his military duties. “I plan to travel to the West to increase my network, my name and hopefully land some jobs over there,” he said.