This week I had a chance to interview Flora Hanitijo. An awesome photographer from Hong Kong who divides her time between New York and Paris. She likes to shoot a variety of subjects — portraits, landscapes, music, and fashion. Flora’s work has appeared in W magazine, I.D, Conde Nast traveller UK, Tokion, Nylon, Surface, Spex, Dossier Journal and others in the States, Europe and Asia. She is also a frequent collaborator with musicians in the states (Common, Arcade Fire, Lupe Fiasco, Sean Lennon, etc.) as well as record labels in Paris and the UK. I caught up with Flora to ask her about her experiences as an Asian photographer, and life in the Big Apple…
Since you are originally from Macau, tell us your favorite Chinese or Hong Kong film, and why?
Flora: Oh man, I am a crazy film buff, so there are so many films I love when I lived there. I am going to show my age… From that era, I really loved this film with Chow Yun Fat, an Autumn’s Tale and A Chinese Ghost Story. The latter is just fun but the Autumn’s Tale was so beautiful and poignant, but told in such a simple way. None of the hollywood mellow drama. And from contemporary — In the Mood for Love.
Now, the million dollar question…why did you become a photographer?
Flora: I really love it. It’s a passion I can’t explain even when it’s difficult, I just keep doing it.
Last year I had the opportunity to travel to New York for a weekly stay, it was quite magical. Tell us about your worklife in the Big Apple?
Flora: It’s pretty different every day, depending on what job I have. Nonetheless, the focus stays the same. I try to work on my personal project(s) when things are quiet and I hustle for work. The hardest part of working in NYC is learning how to turn off and stop working, both mentally and physically.
I’ve noticed a lot of your photos are “off center”, any reason behind this?
Flora: Well…I guess I am a bit off myself. [laughs] It takes someone a little nuts to be a professional photographer.
What is one of your favorite places to travel to find beautiful travel/landscape photography?
Flora: No place in particular. That’s the beauty and challenge of travel/landscape photos, you have to make both the most mundane and stunning interesting.
You’ve worked with so many people and visited so many places throughout your career, what is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos?
Flora: I am not sure if I succeed but I try my best to touch people in some ways with my images. Good or bad, as long as my audience feel something. Apathy is the worst.
What advice do you have for someone who simply wants to improve their photography skills?
Flora: Keep shooting.