Michele Yong is the epitome of cool. She has the right balance of femininity and edginess that gives her photos a sleek, simple, yet refined aesthetic that has taken her from Sabah then to KL and now the birthplace of photography and the world’s fashion capital. She first dipped her toes in photography at the tender age of 14, organizing photo shoots of her friends and capturing their life in high school. The prefects would also try to confiscate her digital camera, but she would somehow always manage to persuade them not to. She was often referred to as ‘That girl with the camera’. Many years later, her photographs have been seen on billboards around France, England, Germany and published in international magazines. She has worked with numerous designers, start up companies and was also named as a photographer to watch by Lone Wolf. A well traveled Michele reminds us that despite growing up in a small town with few creative prospects, you could always end up living in Paris, learn a new language, have an international career and end up with a dachshund named Lipton.
What inspires you?
I find my inspiration in many different ways and forms; very often it can be also from a banal situation. Because my work is visually oriented, I am always observant of my surroundings. Seeing the way light falls at sunset when I’m walking my dog, the interior design of a restaurant when I’m out at dinner, travelling to a different city and seeing the way people dress and interact; Sometimes an idea can even pop into my head when I’m in the shower or when I’m trying to fall asleep. I also try to surround myself with creative people be it from the art, fashion or even food industry, it’s incredibly inspiring when you feed of other people’s positive energy. I think it’s quite similar for a lot of creative people, so it’s definitely not a very original answer but my inspiration can come from anywhere.
What would you tell your 18 year old self?
I would say to focus as much as possible on developing your work and yourself as a person. Do not let relationships or negative emotions distract you because it will only bring you down. This industry is not very forgiving nor easy and you need to build your career early on because it takes a lot more time to build a reputation. Being self employed means everything will depend on your own performance and you have nobody else to blame. You will come across countless moments where you will want to just give up, but push all these negative thoughts away and carry on. You will need to learn to go on survival mode. Work as hard as you can. Focus on yourself. Do not be distracted.