As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
On The Table Read, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, photographer Gim Liu talks about his new book, A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Gim Liu about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the work that went into his new book, A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Gim Liu, I am 33 and I am a photographer from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. I am also a rapper, videographer and author of my book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to After Dark Photography with Gimagery’. I have always been interested in exploring new countries and currently I am writing this in Romania which is my 45th country. I took the interest of being a world explorer and combined it with my love for photography. They both go hand in hand and are an excellent combination because the possibilities to take photos are infinite.
From an academic and occupational perspective I studied and worked as a social researcher. My journey to social research first started when I did a criminology BSc at London South Bank University. Carrying out my dissertation for my undergraduate provided me with the realisation that I was interested in the field of social research. Following this, I got a job as a field interviewer for Ipsos Mori which is the biggest market research company in the UK. This further cemented my interest in social research and I then went on to work as a supervisor at London Heathrow Airport for the Office for National Statistics which is the UK’s national statistical institute and largest producer of official statistics relating to the economy, population and society. Unfortunately, as there was no foreseeable career progression from there, I decided to further myself and done a MSc at University College London in social policy and social research. For now, this is where my journey in social research ended but I am definitely open to coming back to it in the future.
Being a social researcher let me do what I enjoy which is speaking to all different types of people. This has enabled me to have great attention to detail. I have incorporated this skill into my photography to take the most interesting and creative photos possible. By using Instagram as the platform to display my photos and since joining in 2015, I have attracted a large following of 12,000+ interesting people whom I engage with on a regular basis. You can find me on Instagram @gimagery_
I bought my first DSLR camera in 2009 and ever since this moment I have not stopped taking photos. I am always looking at taking the next photo and thinking what to do next. It turned from a hobby to an obsession and lifestyle. My perception of photography is that it is like art and poetry. Along with capturing moments, it can and should be used to express yourself. Long exposure photography does exactly that, it gives you the ability to create and capture something unique in an artistic way. This is why I love it because it brings out the creative side in me. The beauty of long exposure photography is that you are restricted only by your own imagination and creativity. It is also my favourite type of photography because I am forever fascinated by the vibrant colours and the different light streaks and trails produced by the camera.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
The realisation that I wanted to write a book came to me around 2016. From doing my criminology BSc at London South Bank University, I believed I was capable of writing one and thought it would be an interesting challenge which would be self-fulfilling along with being a great achievement.
When did you take a step to start writing?
So with the thought of wanting to write a book coming around 2016, I didn’t actually take a step to start writing it until around January 2018. As I was busy having fun exploring the world and also working, during this period of time I was waiting for the opportunity to have the time to do it and also to come up with the idea for it.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I am not sure how long it takes other authors but for me it took me about 4 years and 10 months from the first idea to the release. This was just the period of time, I was not writing every day or every week for that matter.
The time period of writing was around 3 years and 8 months plus the process of submitting to publishers and eventually going through the process of self publishing which took an additional 1 year and 2 months.
What made you want to write A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery?
The rationale behind what made me write my book were both educational and personal reasons.
Writing a book has always been an ambition of mine and after graduating with a MSc from University College London, I became aware of possessing the ability to do so. The question for me was what to write about. The answer became known when realising it should be about one of my passions in life which is photography. As a big believer in education and creativity, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to spread some valuable knowledge. In addition, it was a chance to teach people two types of photos that I had created myself, these being outlining and trajectory photos.
Having read numerous articles, guides and books on my book’s subject matter, I found that they were not so in-depth and always had missing information. This meant that gaps were left in important areas where the reader would have to look elsewhere to fill this void in knowledge. I felt that I could provide a comprehensive written piece where all areas are addressed to take the five photos I teach in my book leaving no stone unturned. This meant covering everything needed to be known prior to the undertaking. And also everything needed to be known whilst the undertaking is in progress in order to obtain the ideal final photo.
What were your biggest challenges with writing A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery?
I faced three big challenges whilst writing my book. These were:
First challenge was putting the practical side of taking the photos taught into actual words. I have taken long exposure photos for many years and due to this, it is just natural for me to go ahead and do it. I found that putting the process into actual words was rather challenging.
Second challenge was as I travel to at least five countries every year, I found it quite difficult to fit it in with travelling so much. In the countries where I would stay for an extended period of time, I would use this to my advantage and buckle down with the writing.
Third, when I had fully completed the writing process, I found proof reading my own work very challenging. This was due to the sheer size of it being 30,490 words spread across 152 pages. I wanted to do a good job of the proof reading before sending it to my proof reader and went through my book from start to finish countless times.
What was your research process for A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery?
As stated earlier I read numerous articles, guides and books on what I wanted to write about and I found that they were not so in-depth and always had missing information. This meant that gaps were left in important areas where the reader would have to look elsewhere to fill this void in knowledge. I felt that I could provide a comprehensive written piece where all areas are addressed.
Additionally, I went to Waterstones to take a look at what was currently out there and found that there was not anything remotely similar to what I wanted to write which was good. I also noticed that all the covers to the photography books they had in store were not particularly interesting or eye-catching and thought I could definitely create a better one than those that I saw which I believe I did.
How did you plan the structure of A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery?
From my BSc/MSc and professional background I have learnt to be very structural in both writing and in work environments. Therefore, the structure of my book came together rather naturally.
So for my book, I knew that I needed an introductory chapter where I introduced myself, explained what the book contains, described what is being taught, how it is being taught and why. Following this, I knew that I needed to explain the theory behind long exposure photography along with the safety measures which must be taken and describing the equipment that will be needed. What had to come next was the five photo guides which was then followed by the conclusion where I succinctly explained photo editing, gave some final tips and finally some parting messages.
For me, the structure did not need much planning and I found it rather easy. It was the main content and putting it all into words which was the challenge.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery need?
Yes I got support with editing. My mum’s friend Lisa Hindley kindly offered to proofread my entire book for me. Her invaluable expertise and attention to detail led to professional refinements which were influential in the success of my book.
It did need a fair amount of editing but I think this is inevitable when trying to edit/proofread your own work, especially when it is 30,490 words spread across 152 pages!
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
The first piece of writing advice I would give to someone who is inspired to write a book would be to be absolutely clear on what you will write about first. Once you are clear on your idea, set out a structure for your book and begin your writing from there. Further advice would be to be prepared for the writing process to potentially take quite some time and to be open to adding, removing and rearranging your content.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Initially I did plan to collaborate with a publisher to write a book on a similar topic which was less dangerous which did not use flammable materials. As they originally messed me around with a publishing deal for my latest release, I don’t think I want to do it anymore. But you never know, I may still do it. Other than this I don’t plan to write any further books yet as I have just purchased a beautiful property in Scotland so I will be too busy renovating it to be writing again so soon.
Nevertheless, I would be open to writing another book in the future as I know I possess the ability to do so and have the experience of doing it now. I feel like it would be an interesting prospect to collaborate with another author to write a book which doesn’t necessarily have to be on the subject of photography.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes I am very proud of my accomplishment and it was definitely worth the effort! At first I was more relieved than anything but the feeling has moved on to being more of a proud one now. The love, appreciation and compliments from people has been extraordinary and has definitely given me a sense of self-fulfilment. My main aim is to inspire creativity in others and my book appears to be doing just that so I am happy!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Link to book on Amazon: mybook.to/ADPwithGimagery
Book video trailer: https://youtu.be/juGVmvEjQ7k
Author profile: https://www.amazon.com/author/gimagery
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.