In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with Hong Kong’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Joyce Yung.
Hong Kong is a city that sees a lot of cross-industry movement. Career-wise, we’ve spoken to some great folks who’ve pivoted from banking into the culinary scene, from art curating to designing homes, and so much more. Joyce Yung is another one of these multi-hyphenate talents, deftly navigating into the world of film and photography after a decade in risk management.
“I’ve always had a drive to be an entrepreneur,” says Yung. “My job at the financial firm was nice though, and it was a great company, so I was never in a hurry to leave. It also took me a while to develop the appropriate skillset to pursue — I even tried baking at one point, but I was terrible at it!”
Honing in on her craft
Toward the end of her time in the firm, she was hitting the ground running with her camera, juggling street photography and freelance work to build up her portfolio.
“In the beginning, I was taking up gigs at events and weddings, but I realized quite quickly that I enjoyed the luxury of portrait photography; really having the time to hone in on the individual. Even when I was going around taking street photography, there was always some form of subject there that I would almost subconsciously highlight.”
A woman of many talents
Yung’s keen eye and attention to detail has led to her being shortlisted as one of Shutterstock’s Top 100 Photographers in the World, having pieces exhibited at the Affordable Art Fair, and even earning an opportunity to lead a portrait workshop in collaboration with Apple. Yes, that Apple.
If that isn’t enough, she’s also teamed up with her equally talented husband Derek Ting to produce their Agent film series, runs a monthly podcast titled “Powerhouse with Joyce Yung” that celebrates the stories of successful females, and launched her first NFT photography artwork. Phew. Talk about accomplishments.
Name: Joyce Yung
Neighbourhood: New Territories
Occupation: Photographer & Film Producer
1. What is your typical Sunday like?
There’s really no typical day for entrepreneurs. I sometimes have photoshoots or editing work on Sundays. If not, then I’m just hanging with my family, taking our son outdoors as much as possible.
2. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Right on a beautiful beach with pristine warm water, and still have easy access to daily necessities.
3. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
Pressing that close elevator button impatiently just to shut that door a couple of seconds quicker.
4. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?
Richard Branson, Michelle Obama, Trevor Noah, Sheryl Sandberg and Christopher Nolan. All different but amazing people.
5. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?
“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. That used to be my song at the karaoke with friends though it’s not the most cheerful or upbeat song to sing. I have a friend in New York who would harmonise with me every time, and she was amazing, so we really enjoyed singing it together. Everyone else just took a bathroom break halfway through as the lyrics start to be quite repetitive… or maybe it was my singing.
6. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?
7. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
I enjoyed all the trips I took with my family when I was young. My parents tried to have one big trip a year for the family; I specifically remember the trip we took to Phuket when I was around 13 years old. We had just moved to Bangkok earlier that year when my dad took on a country manager job there. The beaches and the islands are just amazing in Phuket. I just had so much fun being on the boats, swimming in super clear water, and snorkelling with fishes. It was just great hanging out with my family.
8. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
9. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
I’m a very average (maybe below average) cook. There’s a garlic sautéed zucchini dish I make that Derek seems to like. I recently got into making cheese baked cauliflower and that seems to be quite tasty, too.
10. Do you have a catch phrase?
Derek makes fun of me because it sounds so old school. He’s like, “Who says that anymore?”
11. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Taking the jump from a stable corporate job to start my own business in a completely different field.
12. Your go-to coffee order?
Hot latte with whole milk. Nothing fancy, but it’s the most comforting one for me.
13. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
I don’t think I feel that yet. There’s so much more I want to achieve before I think I’ve made it.
14. What energises you about your work?
As content creators, I love the fact that some of the projects are very much self-motivated and self-started. So it’s exciting to always know that if we come up with a good concept or project and if we feel that it’s viable, then we can just execute on it without having to wait on other people’s decisions.
15. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast forward 10 years?
Start life again at age 15. There’s so many things I want to do and while I don’t think it’s too late to do any, it would be nice to go back to a younger self with all the current knowledge and do even more.
16. What’s your favourite tradition?
I don’t have a specific one, except I just love all the food and gatherings that come with a festive holiday especially for Chinese New Year, New Year and Christmas.
17. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
Solve the energy crisis, make everything run on clean energy.
18. What is your life motto?
Don’t overthink it.
19. Who is your role model?
My parents; I really admire their hardworking ethics and their can-do attitudes.
20. What was your first job?
My first full time job was in risk management at American Express at their headquarters in New York City. I didn’t find my passion till later in life, and I have always been good at math and science, so I studied Operations Research and Industrial Engineering in university. I had a few offers from major corporations and decided to work at American Express. It was a great 10+ year career that was exciting and challenging, especially when I was asked to move to Hong Kong to start, head and hire the credit risk team.
21. What is your drink of choice?
A good glass of Merlot.
22. When was the last time you drove a car?
The last time I drove a car was pretty much when we were filming Agent Intelligence in Los Angeles back in 2016. We were filming in the desert a couple of hours outside of LA, so we drove from LA to the desert near the beautiful Joshua Tree/Palm Springs area. I’d drive 30 minutes into and from the desert every day for a month. It’s very hilly, windy and when it got dark, it was challenging to get your orientation.
23. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
We get a lot of light in our apartment and that’s the best feature. It feels nice and it makes me happy.
24. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Certainly a night owl. I guess it started in college and the habit came back as I became an entrepreneur. It started off with the feeling of freedom from the day-to-day, 9-to-5 job. Then I just went out a lot more at night, and then just the habit of working till late at night as well.
25. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
There are a few apps that I find quite amazing, especially for creative content creators. Canva, Adobe Photoshop Express, Snapseed and VSCO are great photo editing and design templates that streamline the content creation process.
26. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’m into soup noodles. Beef noodle soup is my favourite.
27. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
I would love to go to the Galápagos Islands. It would be so amazing to see the wildlife, the marine life, and just take in the whole experience. The photographic opportunities would be amazing there as well.