My name is Graeme Heckels, I’m a self-taught street photographer, originally from Newcastle in the UK, but thanks to some awe inspiring travel experiences in my early 20’s that fueled my curiosity to explore the world, an adventurous (perhaps nomadic!) spirit and realization that the grey UK winters weren’t for me, I was inspired to follow my dreams to migrate to Sydney where I lived for a number of years, before eventually settling Bangkok eight years ago.
By day I work in finance for a hotel company and at the start of 2020 my wife and I set off for a new chapter in our lives by boldly relocating to Hong Kong (though home and heart remain firmly in Bangkok).
Professionally I’m extremely fortunate to have a fantastic and diverse (but non-creative) career, so whilst photography is a serious hobby and brings balance to my life, intuitively I see my identity and passion as a photographer. So I would actually say, photography is who I am. Endless walking to encounter the unknown, acutely and purely focused, observing the beauty and quirks of daily life, creating candid images without agenda.
Since falling in love with photography I have been blessed to have been based in two of the greatest cities for street photography: Bangkok and now Hong Kong.
I have a pending documentary project from Bangkok that I hope to exhibit and publish in due course.
Given home location my work has a heavy Asia focus and I continue to work on long-term projects shooting across neighboring countries, including; Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh, South Korea and Japan.
I primarily shoot candid/un-posed black and white photos, central to my favorite images are people and humanity, where I seek to capture the raw personalities, emotions and untouched environments of the scenes I stumble across.
Often these scenes are fleeting and I tend to walk 7-8 hours on an average photo walk, my visual eye wired to black and white scenes, but with no set plan of what characters, places, or scenes I might encounter.
To keep myself “in the groove” and focused (with nothing but observing the world around me on my mind), I habitually find I will shoot anything that catches my eye visually – be it portraits, architecture or cityscapes, graphical signage or still life, but I’m most interested in street scenes and people.
If I’m not out on the streets, I love to take photos of my wife, family and friends. Always shooting, creating and documenting memories.
I feel like I’m making up for lost time as I only discovered my passion for photography in my late 30’s, around 5-6 years ago, so time permitting, aside from my regular weekend shooting, I try and have at least one week long photo mission each year and 2-3 shorter dedicated weekend trips across South East and Northern Asia. Travel and experiencing different cultures are a major ongoing aspect of my immersive experience in street photography.
With 2020 travel being thrown out of the window, Hong Kong is my main weekly focus for now, but can’t wait to double up the efforts on the travel front from next year and beyond!
I’m truly fascinated by the people and world around me, street photography provides me the chance to focus on nothing else but the simplicity of life around me and to creatively capture unique moments, expressed how I see them.
Beyond the physical act of hitting the shutter button and creating an image, as time goes by, I believe photography helps document not just a creative, but also personal evolution – my view amplified by the challenges 2020 has brought for many individuals, it’s clear to me that photography (or frankly any creative or artistic pursuit) can be a platform to learn about those around us and ourselves. It can favorably influence one’s state of mind, energy levels and outlook. I’m at my happiest when I’m out taking photos.