Norm Yip

"Everything has a life of it's own and is in constant flux, even inanimate objects as they age and decay."

Name: Norm Yip

Location: Hong Kong



Profession: Photographer

Email Address:

About: Norm Yip (葉灃) was born and raised in Canada by Chinese parents. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in 1984 at the University of Saskatchewan and his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1989 at the University of Toronto. In 1994, he moved to Hong Kong where he worked as a project architect for Wong & Tai Associates Ltd and RTKL International Ltd before pursuing his greater interest in art and photography.

In 1999, he co-founded the art collective Meli-Melo Artists Alliance (MMAA) where he curated several exhibitions with artists such as Gavin Tu, Neung and Oksana Movchan from Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada.

Shortly after that, he formed his own photography company Norm Yip Photography, in addition to Studio 8, a semi-public photographic and art space located in the district of Sheung Wan — where he hosted private and selected exhibitions in all three mediums of photography, painting and graphite.

As a photographer, Norm’s work has appeared in HK Magazine, WHERE, Global Investor and American Express’ Centurion magazine. Celebrities he has photographed include Zhang Yimou, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Destiny’s Child and Korean pop-star Rain.

Norm is recognised for his fine art photographs of beautiful and sensuous Asian males. His work has been featured in ‘2Blue’ and ‘Dreamboys 2’, both special edition of Blue magazine, known for its excellence in fine art male photography. His photography of Asian men has been subject to thesis graduate work in RMIT (Australia) for it’s cultural impact sociologically and culturally.

Norm has taught photography courses at The Open University of Hong Kong and has been a guest lecturer at Hong Kong Art School. Also, he has been invited by the Cathay Camera Club to act as a judge in their monthly photography competitions.

Norm provides a unique approach to the way he sees, whereby both his interest in fine art, and his training in architecture and design, are intertwined in his work, whether it be photography, painting or drawing — fusing both western and eastern concepts both conceptually and visually. In 2008, he moved his studio to Chai Wan, an industrial neighbourhood, where he continues to photograph, paint and draw.

Tell us something about yourself. What you do, passion and aspiration in life?: My passion lies in the arts, namely photography, painting and drawing. I am attracted to beauty and what lies beyond the surface, the spirit or essence of the soul. Everything has a life of it's own and is in constant flux, even inanimate objects as they age and decay.

Who is your inspiration in life? How do you keep inspired?: As far a people that have inspired my photography: Herb Ritt, Ansel Adams, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Irving Penn, Frank Horvat, Horst P. Horst, Annie Liebovitz and many more. Their work inspires me, but true inspiration comes from living and experiencing life. Some say that you must travel in order to be inspired to create. I don't believe that is absolute. The mind has the capacity to go places beyond what one sees. With photography, I have mostly been inspired by the people that I shoot. They give me ideas of how to interpret them within what I find intriguing. Sometimes, we don't connect and I don't find the essence of their being, which then can turn out to be a dry, lifeless shoot. When we do connect however, there is something magical and special that happens. The shoot can go beyond needing to talk or say anything. A dance between two persons: photographer and model.

What is your aspiration in life?: Aspiration is about seeing how one's life should be like in the future. Sure it gives us a goal, something to aim for: the dream. I think I am living the dream now. I have published 3 photography books on Asian male nudes and I have a working studio. Then again, I have desires to have my work reach out to more people. Being human is strange. We crave recognition and we all want approval and validation of what we do is good. Creating something of beauty is honourable and having that beauty recognised gives the creator the necessary encouragement to continue to create.

What is the most challenging part of your profession?: I think in any creative profession, it is getting good clients. It is disheartening when people don't see the effort or skills needed to produce a quality photography shoot. Secondly, the landscape of commercial photography is being undermined because there is no regulatory system in place to ensure that the clients that hire photographers are to be paid according to industry standards. Licensing of photographs have become diluted, whereas, in the past, this fee was vitally important to the livelihood of the professional photographer.

Tell me about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities.: One case would be a shoot with Arena Swimwear, where everything from casting and fitting of models, location scouting, boat hire (we went to an outlying island near in Hong Kong), shooting, F&B, retouching, and graphic design/brochure layout was all provided. My stylist and I both worked as coordinators for the project, so we just separated the tasks between us. The most important thing was making sure there was constant communication him and me, and between me and the client. 

A side story... on the 2nd day of the 2-day shoot, it started off really bad with horrible weather. It was cold and cloudy as we made our way to our destination island. The models were shivering, and I wondered how we would make it through the day. Strangely enough, as soon as we arrived at the outlying island, the clouds parted, and the sun broke though. It felt really biblical! The shoot ended up being simply amazing... one of the best jobs I ever conducted and quite proud of.

How old do you have to be before it can be said you died of old age?: I am openly gay. We all die at age 40, because by then, no one wants you. I am 54 as I type this. There you go.

Do glow-in-the-dark objects stop glowing when somebody turns the lights on?: I think I have one of those glow-in-the-dark thingies I bought at a party shop but haven't used yet. Can I report back to you?

Photo Credits: Photographer: Norm Yip
Instagram: normyipphotography

Model: Cheng Ho
Instagram: cheng