With Obstacles Comes a Shift of Focus

This week we release the third episode of Trope Stories, a video conversation with our network of photographers and an examination of their work. Filmed from the stunning rooftops of Hong Kong, Trope photographer Vivien Liu discusses how she has found inspiration in the middle of a pandemic, blending her passion for architecture into her photography, and her new solo book with Trope Publishing Co., Being There. 

Please check out our YouTube Channel to see Vivien's podcast and all future videos from Trope. If you prefer to listen, the audio version is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

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Despite the obstacles we have all faced this past year, Vivien saw it as a time for reflection and focus. Her portfolio only continues to grow, and her incredible work is featured her debut solo book with Trope Publishing Co., Being There. Here are a few excerpts from her recent conversation with Terry: 

In our current world, what is your state of mind? Creativity, resiliency, survival mode?

During the slower period, I think there was some creativity going on. I asked myself, "What can I do?" or "What can I start to put more value into to get things going again?". So I decided to look into ways to master my craft a little bit more, even taking my skills to the next level. I looked at a lot of online tutorials and took on a lot of different types of jobs, such as product photography (which I needed a lot of practice with). I focused on my creativity and doing things I normally wouldn't have had the opportunity to do. 

You're an entrepreneur and an accomplished photographer, a talented architect and interior designer. And you run your projects through your creative shop called Studio Unit. How has your business changed in the last couple years?

I started Studio Unit by combining my passion for architecture with my passion for photography. I was working on some architecture and interior design projects, all while I was doing photography. And this was about 2-3 years ago. It proved to be very taxing in terms of management and resources, so I thought about whether I should focus one or the other. Photography was really happening for me during that time, so I was inclined to focus on just photography. And then in the past year we've had protests and the pandemic - that propelled the idea to focus on one thing instead of spreading the resources too thin. I made the full on switch and I'm glad I switched the focus to photography. 

After reading the introduction to your solo book, Being There, it's clear that you found your voice through your camera and through photography. 

That is exactly what happened. I think one of the joys of me going around and taking photos is that I'm now able to express myself exactly the way that my memory had it, before I even had a camera. When I took a picture I go, 'a-ha!', this is the feeling that I got growing up, walking around the streets of Hong Kong, as a teenager or even younger. The textures that I remembered, especially being applied to older buildings that have been around since I was little. These were the sites and sounds that I remembered and now I'm able to visualize them into a single picture. It's definitely inspiring, creatively.