We had the good fortune of connecting with Derek Liang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derek, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
As a photographer, there has been many habits that I believe have valuable in helping me grow my business. The first one is consistently spending time every day to improve my craft, from a few minutes fine tuning my editing workflow to learning new skills from other creatives. Another would be planning out my work day so I would prioritize tasks that add the most value to my business first. In general, habits have been a crucial part of not only my freelance and creative photography career but also my life. I hope to maintain them and add new ones to continue to help transform my career and life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My photography is travel landscape photography, with a majority of my work having water. My affinity for the ocean really developed while I was starting to pick up photography. At first, I had no idea what I liked to shoot nor the technicalities of how to shoot. I would visit Orange County beaches to practice using my camera after work. I gradually learned to appreciate the ocean more and nowadays, I would go out to Newport Beach just to enjoy the sunset without shooting a single photo.
I believe one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from photography is being consistent. If you keep practicing something, you will get better. At first I was never good at using a camera but over time, I learned every function of it. Similarly, at first I was not proficient at neither Lightroom or Photoshop. After many YouTube tutorials and sleepless nights learning the software, I can say my skills in those applications have improved quite a lot.
I’ve never thought I would be a photographer, much less one with an audience. It is an honor every single day to be able to share my work with so many people from across the world and I really appreciate the support.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am proud to say that Southern California has been my home for almost a decade now and very much enjoy showing my friends around when they visit.
During the week, I would start off with the week with a sunrise in Newport Beach followed by breakfast on Newport Pennisula. We’ll take the Balboa Ferry across to Balboa Island. We’ll walk around and also try the famous frozen banana. We’ll finish the night with a dinner at Nobu which has a delicious miso marinated black cod entree.
The next morning, we’ll head out to Palm Springs for lunch around the city and walk around. For sunset, we’ll visit Joshua Tree National Park for sunset and perhaps stay later to watch the stars come out as it is considered an International Dark Sky Park.
On the weekend, we would start the morning off by walking the farmer’s market in Irvine, purchasing a pizza kit for dinner later that night. We then will have brunch at Urfe Cafe in Laguna Beach, overlooking the beach. After brunch we would take a walk around Heisler Park before heading out to South Coast Plaza for lunch at Din Tai Fung to eat Chinese Huaiyang dumplings. We’ll return home to to prepare the pizza for dinner accompanied with red wine.
The next day, we’ll drive out to Griffith Observatory for a sunrise hike, followed by breakfast in West Hollywood. Afterwards, we’ll return to Griffith Observatory for a tour. We’ll head out to Downtown Los Angeles for lunch and then spent a few hours walking around. Later that evening, we’ll head to Venice Canals and Beach for sunset followed by dinner afterwards. We’ll walk along the Santa Monica Pier at night, illuminated by the iconic Pacific Wheel.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, I would like to shout out my parents who have been supportive of my passion in photography. Early on, they accompanied me on many trips. On multiple occasions, my mom had woken up early with me to catch the sunrise when she could have easily just slept in.
I would also like to shout out the Shooters community which has many talented creatives that continue to inspire me on a daily basis and I am honor to be part of it. Some of my fondest memories have been at photography meet ups, catching up with old friends and meeting new creatives from all over the world. I can’t wait until the meet ups start to pick up again.