2014: A Year In Review

It has been almost 4 months since my last…blog post.

More shameful still, we are already 3 weeks into the new year.

Well, you know what they (who are they, anyway?) say: better late than never, right?

And what BETTER time than NOW?

Yesterday, Sassy Mama Hong Kong (a local expat blog zeroing in on the mummies & mummies-to-be in this cosmopolitan city we call home) launched the inaugural edition of a new monthly feature called “The Bump” which will focus on a Sassy Mama-to-be and her beautiful baby belly. Coupled with the interview will be photos by yours truly. You can check out the wonderful piece on one of my most favourite people in the entire world and a dear, dear friend of mine, Claudia Whitney, here. I also wrote a bit of sappy, long-winded commentary as an “accoutrement” of sorts on my Facebook Page when I shared the link. Feel free to check that out as well. Would copy and paste it into this post but will spare you the…over-saturation. Ha.

It was perfect timing, actually, as I’d been putting off this blog post for a couple of days. The launch of “The Bump” and seeing all those photos I had taken of Claudia over 9 months ago now brought back a flood of memories of “the early days” of Beatrice Lee Photography.

As some (or maybe none) of you know, I was ready to leave Hong Kong in the summer of 2013. I’d whittled my 5 jobs (which included gourmet popcorn maker and purveyor of all things Jax Coco) down to 1.5 or something like that, and was planning my exit strategy…to Vancouver. However, as luck, or life, would have it, love struck and I stayed for this special someone. “Vancouver isn’t going anywhere,” I told myself. (And hey, even though the love didn’t survive, last I checked, city’s still there!)

It is because of this relationship that I stayed. And it is because of this person that I decided to pursue photography. Well, I shouldn’t give him all the credit, but I give him some of it. He was my muse, my motivation, my biggest supporter, and drove me to and from a lot of my shoots at the start. His home was my office, and his dog was my office pet. My camera, lenses, laptop, cords, chargers, everything lay spread out all over his fancy Scandinavian dining table. And we agreed on kids. Not our own, but for my initial subject focus. Haha. You liked that joke, huh?

That was about 11 months ago now, in January/February of 2014. It wasn’t until the latter (when Format finally got their act together!) when I found a template that I liked for my photography portfolio and re-launched the beatricelee.com that you are looking at today…except back then, none of the photos you see now even existed. CRAZY. AND. AMAZING. HUH? CRAMAZING.

I started off with a lifestyle/kids edge, booking a couple of odd family shoots and birthday parties here and there before I was asked to do my first PRENATAL by a sweetheart that I’d met at drinks organized by a girlfriend halfway across the world, in NYC. All I can say to that is…socialize. Hong Kong is an amazing city, in that you NEVER KNOW what can come of a night out. You never know who you will meet, or what opportunities will fall into your lap. Be a yes girl. Or guy. Keep your mind open. Anyway, obviously I had no prior experience shooting a pregnant woman so I asked Claudia (ahh, ta-da!) if I could practice on her. Neither of us had any clue what we were doing but in a couple of hours in our friend Candace’s apartment, we managed to churn out some pretty dope images. I remember I was so stressed about that shoot (which both of us did as a favour to each other, mind you…) I had the biggest, coldest pint of Kirin at a bar across the street afterwards haha.

Anyway, before I knew it, I was booking more prenatal shoots than I was kids shoots, and then these ladies were giving birth to their kids, and asking me to shoot their newborns! Thus, ”Bumps” and ”Babes” happened. And ”Kids” took a backseat to…well, LIFE I guess!

Somewhere in the midst of all this, sometime, somehow…oh yes, now I remember, through a prenatal yoga workshop that CLAUDIA (my lucky charm, it seems!) held, an old acquaintance of mine (from back in my G.O.D. days when I was a Marketing Manager-cum-fashion designer, true story) got in touch with me and that meeting turned into a two-month B&W yoga portraiture project that culminated in a one-off exhibition/store launch at PMQ and gave me two beautiful friendships with two wonderful and generous ladies who I continue to have cross-supportive relationships with to this day.

So within 3 months’ time, I’d managed to become a legitimate family photographer and had my own photo exhibition (prints for sale and all!) at PMQ. Not bad.

Of course, that sparked the flame that has now become my…dare I say it, main focus of photography which is YOGA. When I wasn’t running around shooting all the talented yogis against colourful backdrops in Hong Kong, I was collaborating with the folks over at Stretch City (read my interview here) and finding traction with this whole fitness-fashion thing that was (and still is?) trending. The term, “yogatographer” was coined and a real niche was discovered.

The months that closed off 2014 were filled with a lot of yoga shoots. Business was good. I had finally found something I was completely, utterly passionate about and head-over-heels in love with doing…marrying my loves for photography, yoga, and babies and having Hong Kong as a playing field to do this on was a dream come true; something I had CHOSEN to do. There came a time when I finally realized I’d stayed for me and made this business happen.

It is now January 21st, 2015…we are rounding off a year since this adventure began. I’ve just wrapped up shooting for Yoogaia, the world’s first live online yoga studio that has just opened up shop in Hong Kong, and continue to book gigs with yogis, mummies-to-be, and new families alike.

A friend sent me a link this morning to a website that listed out a number of baby names that were popular in the 1920s that are making a comeback. On that list? Beatrice.Of Latin origin, meaning happy and blessed.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you for all the lessons learned and opportunities gained in 2014, now bring on 2015!

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