Alan Wong (@alaninfinity) isn’t your typical street photographer on Instagram, as he often showcases his marriage, travelling, and more while juggling a full-time job in digital marketing. Read on to find out how he manages it all.
If you like scrolling through street photography on Instagram, chances are you may have checked out Alan Wong, or @alaninfinity. Clocking almost 23,000 Instagram followers as of September 2021, Alan is not your average street photographer – in the sense that he doesn’t only showcase Instagrammable locations and hotspots in Hong Kong – he also puts much of his life on display. From his romantic relationship, eventual marriage, and his wife’s pregnancy; to dining out, travelling, and going on staycations, Alan seems to be living the dream life. But what is it really like, and how did he get where he is now? We had a chat with Alan to find out.
Alaninfinity’s journey to becoming a photographer and Instagram influencer in Hong Kong
Hey, Alan! Thank you for chatting with us. What is your day job?
My previous job was at Google and I was in digital marketing. We would help the sales team and take care of huge clients – it was tough. When COVID-19 hit, I began helping out with my family business, which is a chain of four learning centres started by my parents. My parents have no clue about online learning, but because a lot of the students haven’t been able to attend lessons physically throughout the pandemic, I’ve had to help my parents shift all the course materials onto virtual platforms. Until now, I’m still helping out at the learning centre, so I’m not actually a full-on, full-time photographer.
How did you become interested in photography?
I started taking photos in 2014. I feel I’ve come a long way, because if you look back to the very first posts on my Instagram, they’re noticeably different from the ones now; my style and subjects have changed over the years.
If I think back as far as to my childhood, I was never particularly interested in photography as a kid. In fact, before I began working in Liechtenstein, I only had an iPhone and I used that to take photos, much like everyone else. That said, I did have a bit of an interest in mobile photography and I even took some courses for it. I was also one of the go-to people to take photos for company events and social media when I was working at Google.
Your time in Liechtenstein kick-started your passion in photography. Could you tell us a little more about your time there?
Back in 2014, I was working for a company that was based in Liechtenstein, so I would go there once a year for training. It was during my first visit when I decided to invest in my first camera, a Sony A5. This was because shops in Europe tended to close quite early (in Hongkongers’ perspective, at least); everything closed at around 6pm, and sunset was late, too, as it wouldn’t occur until around 9 or 10pm. So, between six and ten, I would just wander around and explore the old town area. There were a lot of stunning historical buildings, so I enjoyed taking photos of them and sharing them with my colleagues. I also had the chance to travel on my own to Italy and Switzerland; those became great opportunities for me to focus on my craft, too.
Aside from using the camera, you also use smartphones to take pictures. But, don’t most people regard using an actual camera as being more ‘professional’?
I believe that’s not really the case nowadays – not when there are so many new, cutting-edge smartphones coming out everyday. For instance, some of the latest smartphones have multiple lenses: ultra-wide, portrait, super zoom… You name it. Having said that, I think there’s still a gap between smartphone cameras and actual cameras when it comes to night photography. When using a phone to shoot at night, there’s usually a lot of noise in the picture and the lighting gets kind of off, too. Also, I’ve become so comfortable carrying my camera around with me wherever I go, so I still use the camera more often. I consider myself still exploring smartphone photography.
Having travelled extensively for business, what are the charms of Hong Kong to you?
Hong Kong offers so many different, enjoyable experiences. Because the urban city is geographically small, it’s convenient and super dynamic. There are always so many new things going on everyday – even at places like Tai Kwun, which we’ve visited multiple times. It’s impossible to shoot everything in Hong Kong, as there are so many choices, and so much variety.
How has the pandemic affected you?
Helping out with my family business has resulted in a lot more free time, so I’m enjoying this change. Back at Google, there used to be days when we’d have to work until 3am. Nowadays, I usually work at the learning centres in the afternoon; I can be flexible and schedule my shoots for the morning or after work in the evening. Although my wife and I haven’t been able to travel as much as we used to, and there have been less events, we’re lucky to have been able to do more local photoshoots and go on staycations at many different hotels – it almost feels like we’ve been travelling! Sometimes, we also manage to find places we haven’t been to before in Hong Kong, so having that breath of fresh air also makes us feel that we’re overseas, as well.
Now that you’ve mentioned your wife, can we just say: Congratulations on the pregnancy! You two tend to do a lot of PDA on Instagram (not that we’re complaining…), but are you guys not camera shy?
Personally, I’ve always been comfortable with being on camera, but my wife, Joyce, was definitely shy at first. Say, she’d feel embarrassed when we’re modelling with so many people around us in restaurants. To reassure her, I’d just say: ‘Although they’re in the same room with us, they probably won’t remember us the next day, and we’ll never meet them again. What’s important is that we have a lovely time here.’ Now, she’s more comfortable with having her photo taken.
As a result of social media, a lot of your relationship with your wife is on display in your photographs. How does social media add to, or take away, from your experience and identity as a photographer?
Frankly, before we got married, I used to half-jokingly say (and worry) that if we broke up, I’d have to go back and remove all the photos of Joyce and I on Instagram! Luckily, that never happened and we got married in the end. Also, we’re both quite carefree and happy-go-lucky; we value communication, too, so we’ve seldom argued. When it comes to taking photos with my wife, especially back when she was more camera shy, I don’t like to drill for perfection in the same location, with the same poses and whatnot. I don’t want her to feel that photo-taking is a negative experience. So, I’d rather focus on enjoying our time there together. And as there’s less stress to be ‘candid’, the resulting photos turn out more naturally, as well.
Furthermore, not only has Instagram allowed me to connect with a much wider audience, but for Joyce and I, it’s been a great tool for us to keep track of the places we’ve visited; we love reflecting on our times together. Photos are like time capsules; they capture small, intimate moments that your memory may not have been able to retain.
What are your future plans?
Taking care of our baby is the biggest ‘project’ to come! There are only around two months left until she’s due to be born, so we’ve been doing a lot of shopping for her. We’ve been considering incorporating her onto our social media, as we’d like to share our memories as a family. But, we’re also mindful of her privacy and we certainly want to protect her against harassment, so we’re still thinking about the whole thing carefully. Nonetheless, you can always look forward to me posting more amazing food and staycay pics!
Follow @alaninfinity (Alan Wong) on Instagram and stay tuned for more of his adventures with Joyce.