Bobby Yip

Bobby Yip

Based
Hong Kong, China
Born
Hong Kong, China
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 5D Mark II
“Being a photojournalist won't make you wealthy overnight, but it’s a shortcut to getting rich in terms of accumulating life experiences.”

Beat

I cover general news of all kinds. Economic and business-related events are important here, as this city is one of the region’s financial hubs. I also cover major sports and entertainment events.

One Shot

. Hong Kong, China. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A mourner wearing a mask to ward off SARS hides under an umbrella during the funeral of doctor Tse Yuen-man in Hong Kong.
“During the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in 2002-2003, I covered the funeral of a young female doctor who got infected by the deadly virus herself after trying to cure several patients at a public hospital. Umbrellas were opened at her funeral, and this moody image seems symbolic of people hiding from the virus. To me, this picture also highlights the role medical professionals played on the front line during this epidemic. I feel my role as a news photographer is similar – instead of hiding away as I wish I could, I take photos so that I can show the world what’s going on.”

Profile

My earliest memories of photography are the pictures of me that my father took after I was born. It was not until the end of my high-school days that I “borrowed” all his photography equipment (a camera body with two lenses) and started using them.

My friend helped me load my first roll of film, but I began my formal photography training with a one-year, full-time basic photography course at a vocational centre. I then continued at a polytechnic with a two-year, part-time applied photography course. I also attended exhibitions where the works of photo contest winners (mostly amateurs) were displayed, to learn why their images were good enough to be exhibited.

I first joined a local newspaper in the mid 1980s and my first assignment was about a guy who woke up one morning and found a beehive full of thousands of bees on the terrace of his small flat – something that is rare here. When I reached the apartment, all the bees had been killed, but they were still stuck together and lying about. Local newspapers were interested in these odd stories with a visual impact, so my career in news photography began with an image of dead bees.

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which killed an estimated 68,000 people, left a big mark on me. When you see dead bodies lying under debris, you can feel the fragility of life on a grand scale in a single moment. With bad luck, I could be one of them. I learnt to take nothing for granted.

A recent trip to North Korea gave me a rare opportunity to take a look inside a tightly controlled country. From the North Korean perspective, allowing journalists to visit a rocket-launching site and control centres at close range was by far the most open-minded event in their history.

My audience is anyone who believes serious news or documentary photography is still important in a world that is flooded with superficial images.

One day in China in the 1990s, I suddenly found myself facing an unexpected evening protest but I wasn’t carrying a flashlight. If I hadn’t had the good luck to meet a photographer friend on the street and borrow his, I would have been left with blurred and underexposed images, and they never would have been printed on the front pages of many newspapers, including several top-selling ones in Japan.

I respect any news photographer whose integrity and commitment to the highest standard of professional ethics create a solid basis for producing reliable news images that people trust. Even the famous W. Eugene Smith, who made many great images, fell short after it was discovered that a few of his pictures were manipulated during post production (in the days before Photoshop).

Being a photojournalist won't make you wealthy overnight, but it’s a shortcut to getting rich in terms of accumulating life experiences. One day you're staying with some of the poorest people in a run-down village, another day, you’re walking among celebrities or top politicians. You earn more this way than money could ever buy.

Behind the Scenes

. HEKOU, China
Photographer Bobby Yip sails down a flooded street in the township of Hekou, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.