Jeff Hui’s chameleon-like talent has found itself serving brands such as Harry Rosen and in stunning conceptual shoots displaying soul, stylistic traits and depth. After enrolling in a Graphic Design and Printing program at Centennial College in 1998, Hui showed great creative potential when he landed a position as creative director at a company only after one year of acting as a junior designer.
However, he felt a void – the photographer within would not rest. Inspired by the career of fellow Canadian Yousuf Karsh, Hui decided to dedicate himself to his passion and started Fizheye, a photographic company.
Capable of solid commercial photography, Hui is also at ease in telling masterful tales in his works, suggestive faces and postures all entangled in the artistic flamboyances of dynamic lighting, thematic theatricality and visual prose. As a true leader in artistic photography based in Toronto, Hui plays boundaries of fashion and art as master composer.
“A picture may never be worth a thousand words to me, but might be worth a few. After all, a thousand words may entertain a crowd but a few words can touch the heart and soul of one.” – Jeff Hui
Your father gave you his Pentax in 1994 and this started your whirlwind love of photography – has he influenced you in other ways?
He encouraged me to focus on technique and develop my own personal style. In fact, my father was an artistic photographer back in the 70’s – when he composed his greatest works, there weren’t shortcuts like Photoshop to bolster one’s own creative visions! He had to use advanced techniques to obtain results that now only require the click of a mouse.
How did your formal education affect your growth as a photographer?
My formal education was just a foundation; most of my growth as a photographer came through my own self-education. I also have learned from my fellow photographers to whom I owe a lot.
Can you tell us more about Yousuf Karsh’s work and why he means so much to you?
Yousuf Karsh’s work is the definition of mastery. His attention to his subject’s eyes and body language is remarkable. He once said: “There is a brief moment when all there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit is reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record”. This quote says it all. He knew exactly when to click; he only took a couple shots and that was it. A single Karsh photograph reveals a person’s entire life: their past, present, and aspirations for the future.
What were the challenges and fulfilling aspects of starting a company? Do you think there’s a trade off between creativity and commerciality?
Some of the challenges are the hidden expenses like equipment, bills and salary. At the end of the day, you have to make a profit. It’s not just about being creative anymore. The tradeoff is that a lot of the projects I do are no longer for myself but for my clients. The fulfilling aspects include having the ability to call the shots. I can set my own schedule, as well as make time for myself and my personal projects.
What is your creative process? How important is the initial planning stage to the final result?
We start with a meeting that includes creative directors, wardrobe stylists, and makeup artists. We brainstorm from a single topic and consider the current trends in the industry. This initial stage is important to get everyone on the same page and to share the same vision.
Speaking of which, have any of your final results ever surprised you?
No, my projects typically turn out as planned.
Which is one of your favourite of your own pieces and why?
It’s called “The Blackout” I did this piece around 7 years ago. It’s one of my favorites because it speaks to our obsession and dependence on digital technology, which is continually growing.
Who would you jump at the chance to photograph?
Johnny Depp. Because he has amazing facial features and he can be anything.