Photographer Issac Lam gives authentic expression to Hong Kong culture with his nonconformist take on fashion

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Issac Lam is an antidote to bland fashion photography. The Hong Kong photographer, who originally studied fashion design but felt photography allowed him to make a more immediate statement, creates candid and often gritty images that draw out the character of his subjects. He regularly uses unconventional angles and dramatic styling to create drama in his shots. Inspired by the everyday style of Hongkongers, his work is a tribute to local youth culture and often uses classic Hong Kong scenes as backdrops, which helps it stand out in an industry that often champions identikit transnational luxury.

Perhaps his best-known work is a notable 2019 collaboration with buzzy Taiwanese contemporary artist John Yuyi, showcasing a fantastical vision of Hong Kong. He has also worked for commercial clients including Chanel, Lane Crawford, Adidas, Nike, Rimowa and Anaïs Jourden, and for publications including Vogue, Ming Pao, Hypebeast and i-D.

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Issac Lam has said that his most formative shoot was with two young albino boys, who made him appreciate how the fashion industry’s frequently narrow definition of beauty can limit diversity.

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