Inspiring Conversations

Reality Check, interview with Joan Leong


  • SumoMe

Joan Leong

Joan Leong

It’s always a risk straying away from the usual road-tested career decisions to forge your own path. We speak to photographer and television producer, Joan Leong who decided the fast pace of reality television production  is where she finds her pulse, rather than teaching.

This Singaporean, who was part of the 2012 Emmy-award winning team behind The Amazing Race, Australia, was first a Speech & Drama teacher before branching out into photography. She was even developing curriculum for pre-schoolers in China, learning English as a second language, before falling in love with photography and television production while working on Eye for a Guy as a stills photographer. 

While being a producer/photographer is not commonly seen as being on the same par as being a doctor or businessman, Joan stuck it out despite not being schooled in the technical aspects of either positions. While she did take a few courses, she attributed her success to her father’s ethos of excelling in whatever one does and kept on working hard and smart. 

 

1)   What are you up to currently and what is your main focus for 2013? 

I hope to focus more on my photography this year, put up my travel photos (I went around the world 3.5 times and I still have the photos sitting in my hard drive) and spend more time with my daughter and family. Right now, I’m just focussing on me — recovering from the really busy year I had last year!

Stills from The Amazing Race, Australia

Stills from The Amazing Race, Australia

2)      Being a part of an award-winning programme must definitely be one of the highlights of your career, what does it mean for you, moving forward?

I was pretty lucky to be given the opportunities to get to where I am today. Being part of a production that won the Emmy award has helped me achieve yet another milestone in this career and this just means that there are many more milestones to achieve.
Stills from The Amazing Race, Australia, photography by Joan Leong

Stills from The Amazing Race, Australia

3)      The reality shows that you do are rather respected but reality TV shows in general don’t have a great reputation in the Hollywood realm. Is that the case in Singapore or in the Asia-Pacific region?

It is something that I am not aware of, in terms of how reality TV producers are being treated. Reality is still a big and strong genre so there is never a shortage of work to feel like one is being passed over. However, I have witnessed people from the drama genres discrediting the work of reality directors as they feel the latter do not do any real work. I am not sure if drama producers feel the same way as reality producers though.
Stills from Top Chef, Episode 713

Stills from Top Chef, Episode 713

 

4)      Besides commercial and journalistic photography, are you looking to do more art-centric series?  We LOVE your Food Pre-Constructed series!

There will be more coming for sure! I took a break as I was in the midst of moving homes! That series came about as a surprise one day and I am glad to have done it. I definitely want to expand it more and hopefully create a trend or something!
Food Pre-Constructed: Chicken Rice, by Joan Leong

Food Pre-Constructed Series: Chicken Rice

 

5)   You’re successful in your career, a mum, and have your own business, what’s your secret to juggling everything?

A very good support network. 

Food Pre-Constructed Series: Steamed Fish

Food Pre-Constructed Series: Steamed Fish

 

6)  Best words of advise you were ever given that you still live by?

In whatever you do, do it well and do it smart.  

Paris, with the Leica X2

Paris, with the Leica X2

 

All images used with express permission from Joan Leong. Head on over to www.joanleong.com

 

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