Garrett Yee is a self-proclaimed right-brained creative type, and anyone who knows him would agree. His current work reflects a cartoon style, vivid with pastel colours and whimsy. Growing up, Garrett couldn’t resist expressing his creative side; he would often be found doodling on all surfaces. Painting, sketching, graffiti, you name it and he’s probably experimented with it.
Naturally, his love for photography began back in high school when he chose a photo class as one of his electives. In this class, they were taught the history of photography and everything that goes along with how to shoot and develop film.
“I signed up for the class with a few of my best friends and we would shoot most of our assignments together, helping each other out and critiquing each other’s prints and shots. Having a tight-knit group to shoot and feed off of really kept me motivated to improve and allowed me to develop as a photographer. Ever since then, I have kept that passion burning and carry some kind of camera with me everywhere I go.”
Over the years, photography helped him to break out of his shell and encouraged him to run wild with his imagination. It has also allowed him to learn a lot about himself and what he ultimately wants in life. He strives to try and shoot what he personally finds fascinating and what he’d like others to see from his perspective, not necessarily adhering to trends.
“I live by the quote, “Be yourself and the rest will follow”.”
I wanna fold clothes for ya - Nikon D610, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/800 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 50mm
Fascinated with people and places, notably featuring his significant other in many of his works, Garrett equally loves portraits and street photography for its ability to impact people in a certain way. A stir of an emotion, either good or bad, this is the most rewarding experience for him. In the end, he believes every photography or art produced should have some kind of emotive impact on the world.
His interest in people lies in how each and every one of us holds a lifetime of stories untold. With his work he hopes to capture a glimpse of his subject’s distinct story, whether they may be a stranger or not. Not only does he shoot to freeze frame their emotions, but he shoots with his own emotions too, allowing his mood to dictate what and how he captures a subject.
Garrett’s biggest gripe in photography is those moments that get left behind. Sometimes feeling indecisive he loses his chance at a shot and can come to regret it. Moving forward, he now tries to push himself to shoot first and review later.
“My current work reflects a utopic, pastel coloured world. It is slightly cartoonish, bright, and vivid; as if we are looking at everything through rose-tinted glasses. It is a recent change from my old work, but it really stuck with me because I believe it tends to directly reflect my constant optimism, mood, and personality. ” The peppy colours are instantly inspiring and feel like a rush of exuberance.
Often featuring his partner in his works, his favourite part about that is he gets to travel the world with his best friend, exploring every new place together. As a visual learner himself, the photos help bring back vivid memories of their time together. He strongly believes this kind of exploration is something far better than money can buy.
A creative and a scientific mind, it seems opposites do attract. “She is an optometrist and very much opposite of me – much more factual and analytical. Sometimes my visions can be weird, so I always like to ask her opinion for an alternative perspective.”
As of late they haven’t had the opportunity to travel as much this year, but Garrett’s favourite trip of all took place last year when they found themselves in Santorini, Greece. “The magnificent architecture and colours were so unreal and is truly one of the many inspirations that helped curate my current work. I can guarantee we will be back soon for an even longer time."
With so many striking images, it is hard for Garrett to choose a favourite of his, however, there is one that stands out from the rest. From his Santorini collection, there is a picture of a framed, yet isolated, bright red door that looks misplaced and seems to not lead anywhere. This is a common style in Santorini where most doors act as a gate, but each door is completely different and has a unique style to them. This one speaks to him, and is his favourite because of the eye-catching colours and mystery it creates as to what may lurk behind it.
His current set up includes a Nikon D610, whilst his go to lens is the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. “I love the Nikon primes and I have a AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G and a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED, but the versatility of the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is tough to beat. My set up is very basic. Although I tend to acquire a lot of gear, I never try and travel with it all. Instead, I plan what exactly I will shoot beforehand and only bring the bare minimal to capture that specific shot. I try to utilize natural lighting and the subjects around me as much as possible. I believe that the less I carry, the more I can focus on what is most important; my subjects and environment around them.”
Light being the major key in his work, Garrett sticks to shooting during mid-day or the afternoon when natural light is still strong. Before or after that point in the day and his images would lose their lustre.
When out shooting, he always has a set vision in mind of what he would like to capture and how that particular image should look when processed. This helps cut down his time when editing comes around. Garret uses a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop to edit and touch up his images.
“If I had to list 5 things I look for in a photo when selecting one for retouching and display, it would be in order of: the subject’s “Wow Factor”, focus/clarity, composition, exposure, and colour. I like to think of my editing process as more of a finishing signature touch than a complete photo revamp.“
Garrett’s love for pastel isn’t hard to understand, the soft hues are not only inviting but can even alter your mood, for a brief moment there is no negativity when observing one of his images, just pure brilliance. Garrett has no plans to put down the camera anytime soon and hopes to one day curate all his favourite shots and put them on display at a modern art museum.
From the Bay to LB; Garrett Yee is a photographer and a visual artist that grew up in Bay Area, but now calls Long Beach home. Growing up, he was regularly influenced by the Bay's major art, culture, and technology movement, which can clearly be seen in both his work and everyday lifestyle. What began as an interest in observing and capturing exciting moments, his work has developed more recently into a collection that depicts a Utopian-like world filled with expressive colours and tones.
For him, photography is the closest thing to magic. It allows him to suspend time to where he can study the intricate details of each photo for as long as he wants – reliving each captured memory.