Rico, Sai Cheong Tsui is a passionate portrait and wedding photographer and his wife Caroline Sze is a creative make up artist and stylist based in Hong Kong. The couple have worked together for 10 years and with a background in advertising, graphic design, styling, photography and make-up hair-styling between them, the creative pair have turned their love for photography and make-up styling into a new venture called Couture Portrait.
We caught up with Rico and Caroline to find out more about their passion and current work with An Ant Capture, Seasoning and Couture Portrait.
Rico, Sai Cheong Tsui of An Ant Capture
Caroline Sze of Seasoning
How long have you been working as a photographer?
Rico: 10 years of photography, after 14 years of visual work in advertising/graphic design.
What inspires your photography?
Rico: First of all, I photograph real people. 2 things inspires my photography:
-curiosity on people, as everyone has his/her own story.
-my life experience at different stages of my life as a husband, a father, which influences my photography on weddings and other portraits or my perspectives of photography. For example, after I got married, I understand deeper the essence of marriage and wedding. As I became a father, I understand deeper about love between wedding couple and their parents when shooting for weddings.
What is the best part of your job?
Rico: The best part is to receive the pay cheque. Ha ha… To be serious, the best return is non-monetary, for example my client rolled tears during their pick up of the album at my studio, as they’re touched by what they see in the album and they recalled the beautiful loving moments of their lives. To help someone photo-record something meaningful of this person’s special stage of life is also another best part of my job.
What do you carry in your camera bag?
Rico: At work, I normally bring 2 DSLR cameras, 4-5 lense and lighting equipment. Very heavy! At leisure or non-work travel, I will only bring 1 mirror-less camera. Very light weight. Photographing my son are mainly just with my iPhone.
You’ve recently started a new husband-and-wife collaboration called “Couture Portrait”, could you tell us more about that?
Rico: I always think this husband-and-wife team of “Couture Portrait” is very romantic, just like your Eco-frame maker husband and wife team.
Couture Portrait is a unique experience of styling and photography provided by Caroline, director of Seasoning and myself, director of An Ant Capture. We believe that a portrait is to capture what the person is really about, instead of a mirror image. It seals the individual’s unique beauty, emotions, and moments at that stage of life. Caroline will “couture” customize the face and hair design and guide the styling for the portrait.
Here’s The Making-of the Couture Portrait for guest Sherry:
How was it, working together for the first time?
Rico: Our first work together was an engagement shoot in Kyoto Japan 10 years ago. This couple inspired me to turn my photography hobby into serious profession. In daily lives, Caroline and I both are very harmony, but we had so many discussions at work, which lead to many fun new inspirations.
Caroline: I think in opposite way. We have so many discussions/debates on every day life/values in the past 19 years together as a couple, which leads to a surprisingly harmonious couple power at work.
What is your favorite part of the “Couture Portrait” process?
Rico: To help a person’s dreams/visions come true and to bring out the inner voice in such a unique portrait experience. For example, Sherry who’s a simple and humble lady, but she dreamt of her feminine glamour and she secretly wished to reflect her sexy cool and a bit dangerous side.
Caroline: Same as Rico’s but through styling, colors, make-up and hair design customized to project that images after the consultation. I love the excitement of “limitation” – say through her existing set of dresses/accessories, guiding her on what to put together or to take out in order to help enhance that image. I just love the whole chemistry with the client and the team!
What is your favourite up and coming beauty trend/look?
Caroline: Individuality. Projecting personality. During the old days, beauty had rules or standards. Nowadays, it’s about embracing yourself, instead of balancing off your weaknesses. A bit of twist, or even out of proportion or out of rules, but with a character and attitude.
What is you most memorable assignment and why?
Rico: A charity portrait styling and photography project in Cambodia, to help the human trafficked survivors raised public awareness of the issue and to raise funds for this charity organization. The return is far bigger than what I contributed, as I learned a lot from the strong spirit of these survivors and their attitude of never giving up.
Caroline: Same as Rico’s mentioned project “Women Who Shine”. This stretches to the deepest on my belief of true beauty which is from within. Due to the limitation of time or glamorous outfits for this special case, I need to look through the surface and deeper into their eyes of soul to enhance their true beauty through make-up, hairstyling.
Where would be your ideal location to photograph a wedding/ portrait shoot?
Rico: Location is indeed not important. Any place chosen by the couple is the most ideal, as this must be a reason or meaning to the couple. Most important is to capture the love and relationship between people. For engagement shoot, I always encourage couples to choose a place not because it’s beautiful but meaningful to them.
What is the most popular Folio Albums product among your clients?
Rico: Portfolio with USB key is the most popular product among my clients. However, I wish more clients will order the refined album with bamboo box in the future, because this album is the most beautiful bespoke album that I’ve seen and the album together with the box itself is an art piece.
Caroline: Every guest visiting my make-up styling studio is wowed by this refined creation of album with passion!
Are there any photographers you admire?
Joe Buissink. He has strong passion at photography, specially wedding photography. He started his photography career late at the age of 44. This reminds us it’s never too late to pursue to your passion. Annie Liebovitz. I’ve grown up with her images at 1980s. Her photography at different years reflect the changes of the time period, just like flipping a history book. Her photography strikes a balance between commercial and artistic.
What advice would you give to a wedding photographer at the start of their career?
First of all, I would advise that this photographer would ask himself/herself whether he/she has true passion at it. Then, devote your full effort into it.