Forget New York to Cali, try New York to Japan. Photographer and Hypebeast.com contributor Eddie “The Locust” Eng has made a name for himself traveling just that route taking fliks along the way. DeFY. New York caught up with him to talk more about his come up.
What’s up Ed? Thanks for taking time out to sit down with us.
DeFY: I’m curious, what are the origins of your moniker “The Locust”?
Ed: Its based off the California hardcore band The Locust. I just though it was a great alias so I used it one day and it stuck with me all this time.
DeFY: Interesting, so when did you realize you were into photography?
Ed: A little over 5 years ago. I was always one of those people who brought a camera along with them, just in case something needed to be shot and remembered (before the time of smart phones of course). It really sparked my interest when I moved to Japan in 2009 and picked up my first “real” camera, a Canon 7D, body only, with a 50mm f/1.8 II.
DeFY: What was the deciding factor to turn your hobby into a professional career path?
Ed: I still wouldn’t consider myself a professional of sorts (laughs). But I suppose it is approaching that. As I got into the fashion scene through a select number of friends, being “pro” in their eyes allowed me to meet certain people through them who I would never have had the chance to meet, so I guess that excited and motivated me to pursue a possible career in it.
DeFY: Do you feel the average individual needs schooling to be a good photographer?
Ed: Not at all! How do people become good at something? Through practice. We can just simply grab a camera, a memory card, go out to shoot and it wouldn’t cost you more than your initial investment. I feel you learn most of what you do by trying. But that’s not to say schooling is a waste – there are certainly things you’ll learn from a teacher that you may miss otherwise. Find out if you want to learn from someone experienced or if you want the excitement of discovering things on your own and take it from there.
DeFY: In an age where anyone can pick up an expensive camera and start shooting a million photos until one comes out presentable how does one distinguish a legit photographer from a true newbie?
Ed: In my opinion, someone legit would be a person willing to go out for no apparent reason, practice within and outside of their comfort zone, and challenge themselves to shoot new things while fine tuning every step of the way.
DeFY: How did you and Hypebeast link up?
Ed: A good friend of mine James originally had his own fashion blog, where I was a guest contributor. For the site, we would talk about what the Japanese magazines were writing about, snapping and posting pics of storefronts and new releases, spreading gossip and rumors about upcoming things we heard from reliable sources, etc. Over time the editors of Hypebeast emailed James and offered us a position as contributors to Hypebeast, and the rest is history. We figured this was the break we were both looking for and decided to transition from the blog to Hypebeast.
DeFY: What’s been your most exciting project so far?
Ed: I would have to say the Nigo interview (Hypebeast Magazine Issue #3 “NIGO and SK8THING”). Not only was it the chance to finally meet someone I’ve looked up to ever since I got into fashion,
but having Hypebeast send James and I to Tokyo, expenses paid as a business trip, gaining access into the Nowhere headquarters; it all felt so surreal in the end. Plus having a nerdy conversation with Nigo about our cameras was absolutely incredible (laughs).
DeFY: Of the thousands of photos you’ve taken over the years can you share with us which ones hold the most meaning and tell us why?
Ed: There was one shot I took of a train approaching a platform.
I simply wanted to catch the train blur as it went by, but the timing was just right when I released the shutter and three separate passengers are reflected in the train windows. I was really surprised when I got home to find that out as I processed it. I also like the man in the middle. He isn’t quite happy or tired, and he’s not in a cliche business suit, but he is holding a business bag with this odd “straight up” posture. It’s quite anonymous and mysterious as to who he is, which is why I like it.
My time shooting Eiichiro Homma (nanamica Japan) was also a great experience.
To be honest I didn’t know much about him before meeting him, but he turned out to be an extremely warm and friendly person. It really made the photo shoot easy. Plus we didn’t really have anything planned out as for where and how to go about shooting the session but the pictures came out exactly how I had envisioned and hoped, so it was a great success.
DeFY: I know you love sneakers/fashion and recently paid a visit to k-Skit; the Japanese Mecca of vintage sneakers. Was it everything us shoeheads yearn for and more?
Ed: It’s quite amazing. Rows and rows of shrink-wrapped used and new sneakers!
The staff are really enthusiastic about every piece as well, with an extensive knowledge about what you’re looking for. Also, the k-Skit near me is only one of four establishments, the Tokyo one being even bigger and more extravagant. Definitely worth a visit!
DeFY: How would you compare it to Flight Club?
Ed: Flight Club is via consignment – k-Skit deals primarily with collectors selling off their collections.
DeFY: K-Skit is truly amazing! Now, as you know, a photo can sometimes make or break a shoe or clothing release. We’ve all had those instances where a great photo of an item we didn’t pay much mind to showed up on a forum and it officially changed the way we looked at that item and our desire to own it. On the flip side, a bad photo can kill the hype. When it comes to photography of people, good shots can make an individual look larger than life or have them look……..not so good. Is it harder to get a good shot of a product like a pair of vintage Jordan’s or shooting a fashion mogul like Nigo?
Ed: Theoretically product photography yields better results, because products don’t move, don’t smirk, don’t blink, don’t change expressions. You control the shot, the lighting, everything and literally produce the photo. But for these reasons I feel that portraiture is more interesting. It’s challenging, but more rewarding in the end. Plus a model helps you along the way! How they act may be completely opposite to how they are when not in front of the lens, so that surprise is also highly rewarding.
DeFY: Continuing on the last question,these photo’s of people tell an unwritten story and your the story teller. As a photographer your entrusted with telling an audience who this individual is or what that individual wants you to tell them by visual means only. How do you gain the trust and make the individual comfortable enough to know you will make them look great? How do you translate the individuals persona through the lens (do you talk to them a little before hand to get an idea of who they really are)?
Ed: I always tell my models to act natural, but that’s usually easier said than done. At times they can be shy, so what I usually like to do is not jump right into the shoot and spend some time loosening up. I photographed a friend of mine for another friend’s t-shirt company (November Red) under a theme of cosplay (dressing up in costume), which was her interest as well.
Usually when we spend time together, I try to snap a picture of her but she would turn away, so well before the shoot we were in contact talking about it, preparing it, deciding this and that, plus talking about things besides the photo shoot and literally just hanging out so that I could get an idea of how she would react. By the time the day arrived she was more excited than nervous. I think the hesitance and shy-nature of being photographed is simply them not being ready for something, or not having an idea of what to expect.
DeFY: Where can everyone go to follow your work?
Ed: Please visit my site at www.LocustDigitalProductions.com, or follow me on Instagram @LocustDigital. Also be sure to follow up on Hypebeast.com.