By Lim Wei Hao
A firm handshake and a warm smile. Lim Yong Teck arrives for the interview and quickly gets himself prepared, reaching out to tuck the clip-on microphone under his t-shirt before attaching it to his collar.
“Like this can? Want to test audio first?” asked Yong Teck.
Yong Teck is a photographer based in Singapore and a familiar face in the local and regional sports community.
Photos courtesy of Lim Yong Teck
In 2018 alone, Yong Teck has shot at more than 10 sports events – 2018 International Champions Cup, 2018 Singapore Grand Prix, 2018 CIMB Classic, BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global and the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018, to name a few – many of which are illustrious international sports events followed by millions of sports fans around the world.
With more than 5 years of experience under his belt, Yong Teck’s humility is a trait that stands out throughout the hour-long interview. Being behind the camera is second nature to Yong Teck. He admits that being placed in front of a camera is “stressful”, as we proceed to test the audio.
Despite a shaky start, with a few N.G.’s, nervousness transitioned into calmness and a clear articulation of thoughts – it’s clear to see that Yong Teck’s heart beats for sports and his passion shines through.
We All Start Somewhere
Photo courtesy of Lim Yong Teck
Growing up, Yong Teck played basketball competitively and, by his own admission, he couldn’t imagine himself working an office job and being desk-bound. With a natural flair for writing, Yong Teck set his sights on being a text journalist “for any local paper one day”.
Yong Teck revealed that his first ever Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR), the Canon EOS 600D, was a gift from his close friends. Yong Teck diligently used the gift and started shooting pictures of his friends while they gathered to play basketball at the court near his place. Needless to say, Yong Teck’s friends appreciated the images he took of them.
“I knew that it took better pictures, I used it, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I figured, hey, why not do something with it, why not literally try and take better pictures,” said Yong Teck.
What was a hobby that started out purely by chance, continued to be nurtured as another opportunity came knocking.
Photos courtesy of Lim Yong Teck
In 2013, Yong Teck, then pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), was an integral member of the school’s basketball team. In 2013, SIM made the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic Games (IVP Games) final and was up against Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
Leslie Tan, or more affectionately known as Uncle Les, the editor of local sports website Red Sports, was covering this particular match, in which SIM overcame NTU 57-54.
It was at this final where Yong Teck crossed paths with Uncle Les, having requested for his help to take an SIM team photo with Yong Teck’s camera. Thereafter, Yong Teck was asked by Uncle Les whether he was interested in “doing stuff” for them long-term. Yong Teck, a follower of Red Sports since he was a young student-athlete, grabbed the opportunity with both hands and that was “kind of how it all started”.
Practice makes Perfect
With a background in basketball, it was only natural that Yong Teck leaned towards covering a sport close to his heart. However, his mentor, Uncle Les, challenged him to give other sports a chance too.
“I tried it and of course, it required a lot of research, a lot of understanding when you shoot a sport for the first time, you need to understand how the sport works, how the athletes move about and that helps you get better pictures,” shared Yong Teck.
“Along the way, I guess Red Sports shaped the foundation of my photography and my understanding of sports today.”
When asked for words of advice for budding photographers, Yong Teck preached the value of putting in the hours to practice.
“It’s cliché to say that practice makes perfect but it really does. For me, if one day I’m not shooting, I’ll figure something to shoot because it keeps my mind fresh, it keeps me thinking, it keeps my eye clear, keeps my creativity going and, you just go out there, shoot shoot shoot,” said Yong Teck.
“It’s really about constantly learning, constantly pushing and then there are just so many ways to take a photo.”
With a heart as large as his, Yong Teck is keen to infect others with his passion for sports and photography. He taught migrant workers and the underprivileged basic photography skills for about a year via HealthServe. Yong Teck is also the basketball coach of Clementi Primary School.
Despite achieving much in his career, the 29-year-old has no intention of being satisfied with the status quo and wants to continue pushing boundaries and keep improving his craft. Yong Teck has set his sights on one day shooting at an Olympic Games. With Tokyo 2020 less than two years away, we’re confident he’ll be adding the honour of shooting at an Olympic Games to his CV in less than no time.
Watch our interview with Yong Teck here:
Special thanks to Lim Yong Teck.
All photos courtesy of Lim Yong Yeck. View his portfolio here: http://ytlim.com/