Behind The Creatives is a blog series of interviews with amazing creatives in different fields to feel inspired and learn industry tips. First up is with Ryan Chua, an LA-based Content Creator and Photographer, and one of the partner photographers at Lenu Agency.
When did your passion for photography start and what was your experience like in the beginning phase?
My college girlfriend at the time had one of the first digital cameras, and I was fascinated at the wonderful things it could do — be able to see your photos right away and take as many as you can without having to rely on the number of shots you have left on the roll. I wanted to capture all the beautiful things that caught my eye.
After experimenting with different types of photography, I found my true passion in photographing fashion. It was hard to completely quite my full-time Pharmacy Technician position at UCSF Medical Center, but my heart belongs to someplace creative and I decided to go full speed at photography and social media. I knew in the beginning I had to build my portfolio, so I networked with as many new and established models, makeup artists, hair artists, and wardrobe stylists as I could in San Francisco to get my name out there. I realized your connections were crucial in gaining a lead to your next client. I made it my goal to develop as many friendships and alliances as possible in the beginning.
How did you become a content creator? How long did it take and what do you think made you reach over 100k Instagram followers and over 1.1 million followers on TikTok?
I started way back when Facebook first began just for college students. I knew I was in love with social media since then. Then Instagram came about and I got an iPod Touch just to be able to use the app. Being a photographer and having the desire to share my work with everyone in the world was the perfect recipe for becoming a content creator for social platforms.
I love what I do and it really helps when you’re passionate about it because it never feels like work at all. For Instagram, it took about 6 years to get to 100K, and for TikTok, it took about a year to get 1.1 Million followers. Being consistent and always ready to evolve with the type of content that is consumed or favored by the algorithm is key to growth and staying relevant!
Do you find yourself feeling “stuck” at times? Where do you find inspiration?
Every now and then I’ll just feel unmotivated to create content or edit, I usually just take a break and do something fun, and then it eventually comes back. Usually it’s the music tracks on TikTok that inspire me for a video concept.
How do you find the time to create content for others (including brands) and also for yourself?
I have a weekly content creation schedule with each client of mine, and then I plan my other shoots around that time. I just have to be selective with my time and who I shoot with since my time is way more limited than ever before. I just prioritize my paying monthly retainer clients above else, and then whatever time I have left I’ll shoot with friends or new talents.
What do you think is the secret or the top 3 tips to creating viral content?
Honestly, the secret to creating a viral video is making it as random and/or genuine as possible. Sometimes the behind the scenes do better than the most edited/curated aspect of the photoshoot. Most of my viral videos were 80% random stuff I didn’t expect to go viral, and 20% were based on trends.
Once a video goes viral, how do you keep up with it and build momentum or top that video?
Engage with the audience! Stir the pot. Do some follow up video responses to keep up with the momentum! Collaborate with other influencers or industry leaders in your niche market and make it fun. Honestly, just keep posting and don't get too lost in the algorithm - have fun making content!
What are your 5 must-have tools as a photographer or content creator?
The latest iPhone Pro that comes out. I like to stay on top of the competition and have the best quality video and photo camera for mobile. Seriously, the iPhone can do everything nowadays.
Rode Wireless Go 2 for wireless audio is a game changer, especially if you or your client will be doing a lot of talking. My go-to camera and lens for all my shoots are the Sony A7iv and Sony 35mm 1.4. I use Final Cut Pro for video editing on desktop and Capcut for video editing on mobile and adding audio-captions.
What advice can you give to aspiring photographers or content creators?
Stay consistent! Have a habit of preparing for a photoshoot or content day (making sure memory cards are wiped clean, batteries at 100%, lens clean, etc), and then a habit of uploading your content right away and backing up those files with Dropbox or Google Photos and also a secondary external hard drive, and then editing promptly.
Then make time for posting your content for yourself or your client on a daily basis. Having a routine for your workflow will keep you ahead of the game and keep your clients happy.
Tell us about your partnership with Lenu Agency and what you love most about working with the team.
Lenu and I are partners for photography/video content and creative direction. Lenu Team has all the shoots streamlined so I can mainly just focus on just shooting. Lenu is definitely fun and easy to work with, very professional and has all the information I need before and during the shoot. They're so efficient and film trendy reels in between the shoot to really optimize the models' and client's time.
During shoots, the team is very organized with their shot list and well-attuned to keep the shoot on schedule that we always have time left for more creative content at the end. The models are taken care of while communicating with the clients to keep them up to date so I personally love working with Lenu Team. As always, I highly recommend Lenu Agency for all creative shoots.
Creating content is a lot harder than it sounds but as Ryan mentioned, it's all about being consistent with posting and having a clear schedule, creating valuable content in your niche, and engaging with your audience.
Want to work with us? We offer creative photography services to elevate your brand with beautiful and on-brand imagery. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.