Styling fashion models, starring in commercials, or shooting another Night Owl Cinematics (NOC) skit – it’s all in a day’s work for Grace Lim. OOWA recently caught up with the petite freelance fashion stylist to find out what makes her tick, be it in front or behind the camera, and everything in between.
What led you to join NOC instead of a fashion company? As NOC is more about media and producing, compared to what you’d normally do in the fashion industry.
Well, I’m also doing fashion, but since it’s freelance, neither the timing nor the income is fixed. For me, it’s more about the experience, and I have fun regardless of whether I’m in front of or behind the camera.
So you’d say you also have an interest in acting?
I don’t know if I’m very good at acting, but being a talent in commercials and all, I do enjoy the process of being in front of the camera.
What inspired you to go into the world of fashion? For instance, was it a dream you’ve had since young?
I’m very inclined to dress up, and I’ve liked fashion since I was young. In my secondary school days, I liked to browse through Japanese magazines. I guessed back then that made me realise that I dressed differently from others.
Following secondary school, I didn’t choose to go into the fashion line, or harbour any dream of becoming a fashion stylist. I was a graphic design student, so [fashion] was merely a part-time venture. After that, though, I realised that I have a forte in picking out visual aesthetics, like nice clothes. From then on I discovered that [fashion] is something that I’d like to do.
Let’s talk about your dress style. What determines the way you dress?
It depends on the occasion. When I’m working, I usually wear a T-shirt and jeans or pants, along with sneakers. That’s my day-to-day [work attire]. However, if I have to go for an occasion, or if I’m just feeling a bit girly, then I’ll wear a skirt. I do wear dresses, but it really depends on my mood. One reason I wear pants and not shorts for work is because I need to stand, squat, and adjust things. Wearing shorts might not be the most appropriate [laughs].
Do you have someone who inspires you, or that you look up to?
I think those who inspire me are those whom I’ve worked with before. I’ve seen how they are at work. They made me want to improve myself, and they made me realise that you can never stop learning new things on set. So I don’t have any specific person or people that inspire me; it’s more of me looking up to my mentor, and people I’ve assisted before. They taught me very different things. I won’t say I’m inspired per se, but rather that I’m very thankful for everything.
Could you give us a glimpse of what a typical day is like for you?
For my day-to-day, if I have a job like a editorial shoot, I have to email brands and ask for clothes that are suitable for the shoot. Once the brands have replied, I’ll pick what is available, then I’ll loan them for the shoot. After the shoot, we will return [the clothes], and write credits for them. If it is a commercial, we will pitch the styleboard, such as what kinds of style we want for the talents, and we have to go down to the store several times to take photos and show them to the clients. If everything is confirmed, we’ll purchase the clothes and bring them to the shoot. If you’re on a shoot, there’s a lot of time wasted in between everything. So some people might feel that it is a waste of time. For example, you can spend one whole day just shooting one or two photos. So I guess it’s about liking your job and working together with everybody. Because the stylist will be in charge of the clothing, but you have to oversee things like the styles of the hair and the makeup, and sometimes we have to direct how the models pose and the like.
Could you share how you got started on Instagram?
I started my Instagram account almost when they first started. Initially, I only took photos of things like the sky, food and everything [laughs]. But I didn’t really know how to take photos of myself, other than a selfie [laughs]. And I didn’t know to take those outfit of the day shots, because I was very awkward in front of the camera.
What made you step out and start venturing into being an Instagrammer?
I think my photos got better – and I put in more effort – after I got my camera. Previously I couldn’t really be bothered, and it’s quite tiring to keep updating photos. But I feel like it gives me a sense of satisfaction sometimes when I scroll through my feed, to see that this is what I like. I’m not really sure of the reason why I started. Before I started getting in front of the camera for my Instagram, I have a lot of friends who are quite well-known. But I didn’t want to do all these, because I felt that it was a bit narcissistic and tiring, and I just didn’t get the gist of it.
I’m a person who likes to introduce good things to my friends. And when I did, they’d say, ‘why don’t you just go and be a blogger?’. Since I didn’t want to create a blog just to be a blogger, I decided I might as well put in more effort to curate photos. Then from there, perhaps I could have clients to work with, and introduce better things? [Laughs]
What are your experiences with the OOWA lenses? You’ve brought it on a few trips.
Yes, I’ve tried it before. I think one thing about it is that it’s very clear. A lot of my friends were quite amazed by how the wide angle changed the photo. It’s very portable also, and very light. The casing is also very lightweight. And very minimal. For the telephoto lens, it’s very good as well, because it’s very clear even when it’s zoomed in.
Perhaps you could share your memories, or any memorable experiences you had, when capturing images, be it with OOWA lens, or your own camera, or photoshoots with other people? What were some moments that left a deep impression?
I think one thing I always remember is taking pictures of the sky from my old house. I really like to take photos of all these things because I can look back on them and just imagine myself back in my old home.
It’s very nostalgic.
Yeah. For me, I like to take photos of things for the memory. Some memorable photos that I have, and always look back on, are of my dog that passed away. I like to take pictures of my dog, because they only have 10 or 20 years with us. Another memorable photo is that of my grandfather, who has passed on. So yes, these are the photos that are memorable to me – I feel that photos really bring you back to some places at a certain point in time. I also like to take photos when I’m in a plane, in particular the sky. I just like to take photos of the sky, and the scenery.
Do photos of the sky help calm you down?
Yeah! I feel that a lot of people don’t really take notice of the sky. For example, once I was in the car with my parents, and I was telling them, ‘Hey, look at the sky, it’s very pretty’ and they just responded ‘Who wants to look at the sky?’ I feel it’s very important when we can appreciate the surroundings around us, and just stop and relax. It’s not very common that you can find people who will just stop and look at the sky. Unless it’s exceptionally pretty – such as being a pink colour – only then will people stop and take a photo of it. Other than that, I feel that during sunset, everybody will just rush home. Then when they’re in the car they’ll use their phone, then they won’t look out and see, ‘Oh the sky is actually very nice’.
Finally, do you have any last words of advice that you would give to people who are interested in becoming a fashion stylist, or are interested in fashion?
You really have to be very strong physically, because you need to carry a lot of things. I think that’s something a lot of people don’t know, unless they see us working on set from day to day. For the first few years, it’s a lot of tough work. If you’re freelancing, it’s really very tough as you don’t have a stable income, you don’t have a stable job. So you really cannot give up if you want to go in. That’s because for a lot of people, they might feel discouraged halfway through, feel that they are not cut out for this line of work, because they feel like nobody wants to give them a job.
Most importantly I feel that it’s important that we stay humble, and help each other. Be kind and be humble, because the fashion industry can be a bit messy, so just believe in yourself. And believe in, and be friends with, the people that you work with.
Grace shot all the images above with the OOWA 15mm wide angle and 75mm telephoto lenses.
Follow her on Instagram: @gracelsyy