In a new series here on, Life Is A Beautiful Detail, I want to use the platform to showcase the work of some really talented and creative people. Whether they are in the cycling scene or not, these are people whose work is inspiring and motivating. This is an opportunity to share their stories, discover more about who they are, and find out who they are.
Meet, Seetoh Lang. A little less than a year ago I was first introduced to Seetoh Lang while shooting the Ossington Crit here in, Toronto. A mutual friend introduced us and said we needed to know each other. After the event we stayed in touch, sharing ideas, talking gear, swapping rad photos and DIY concepts, and of course riding bikes together. Two things really strike me about Seetoh.
First, this dude loves bikes. Any bike with two wheels and he's on it. But the thing is Seetoh doesn't ride road bikes like anyone else. He rides his road bike like it's stolen. Club ride, social ride, or hammer fest, it really doesn't matter. Seetoh sees the road as an endless playground. Curbs, embankments, trails or obstacles, it's all fair game for his BMX style. Riding with Seetoh reminds you that bikes are about having fun.
The second thing is that he is a constant content creator. Every moment is a potential photograph or video. I think this is because of Seetoh's background as a street photographer. A street photographer is always watching - capturing the context of the scene to tell the story. Street photography is hard yet Seetoh does it so well.
In the following Q&A with Seetoh I ask him about his past growing up in Singapore, his new life here in Toronto, and what keeps creative. There is also a small gallery from a photo session I had with Seetoh and a gallery of his BMX and street photography in closing. I hope you enjoy it.
Q: Toronto may be best known for its diversity. Everyone has a story of how they ended up here. So what's the story behind how you ended up calling Toronto home?
A: I grew up in Asia, moved to Vancouver 15 years ago for school, and have lived in Canada ever since. Toronto's been home for 5 years now.
Q: Why did you decide to stay in Toronto and put down roots?
A: Toronto has a lot of opportunity as the business capital of Canada, and I also really like the cultural diversity here which contributes to its insanely good food scene. Plus it's got lots of street riding for BMX!
Q: How long have you been seriously shooting, and how would you describe your photography style?
A: It's probably been 13 years that I've been shooting photos in one way or another. I saw the tail end of film and the abrupt transition to digital - it was a sobering lesson in how quickly an industry can change. In terms of style, I tend to look for shapes and contrast, and try to follow Robert Capa's advice about getting closer.
Q: Who are some of the others that have influenced you, including non-photo related?
A: Jeanloup Sieff, Jeff Wall, and Spike Jonze have had a significant influence on my work and style. Elon Musk is really inspiring, his drive motivates me to live as intensely as possible.
Q: Like many cyclists, you come from a BMX background. How long have you been riding and when did you cross over to road?
A: I've been riding bikes for my entire life, and have been into everything from Trials to BMX to MTB. I picked up road riding 3 years ago after years of swearing that I'd never be on skinny tires, and now here I am fully loving it. I still ride BMX all the time and will pick up a Mountain Bike at any opportunity, and would really like to try Cross next.
Q: What is your go to gear for street and on the bike photography?
A: After testing a bunch of different setups, I don't think there is a better camera than the Ricoh GR II. It is compact, super fast and ergonomic, affordable, has an APS-C sensor, and a really nice lens. It's the absolute perfect digital street photography camera, which also makes it really good for on-the-bike photography. If I need to go even smaller than that, I'll take out the trusty GoPro, and for video I'm currently using a GoPro Hero 5 with the excellent GoPro Karma Gimbal. If I'm in a situation where I can bring a larger camera setup, I'll bring a Fuji X-T10 with a 35mm f2 or a 16mm f1.4. Fuji lenses are stunning, and the X-Trans sensor is unique and wonderful to work with.
Q: Much of you work includes candid street photography. What draws you to street work?
A: Every street around the world has its own flavor of culture, personality, fashion, and socio-economic situation; and all of this constantly changes with time. Street photography allows you to sum all of this up in one photograph.
Q: You've been working on a BMX long format video. Tell us about it and some of the lessons you've learned about trying to put together such a large project.
A: After moving to Toronto I was fortunate to meet a crew of riders named BMXFU who have been working on the sequel to their 6ixtape video which was released early last year. The project is definitely led by them, but I've been contributing photography to it, and have have ridden in it for a few clips as well. It's refreshing working on something like this because I'm so used to everything just going straight to Instagram now, but we've been sitting on some of these clips for well over a year and intend for everything to be seen for the first time only upon release. It's an unnatural feeling in 2017, and it's awesome.
Q: How has working on a long format project impacted or influenced your street or cycling photography?
A: It's taught me the value of creating a body of work that is a cohesive whole, and that it's OK if that project takes months or even years. It's something I understood shooting film, but somehow lost to the immediacy of Instagram culture. It's also made me think more about the formats of distribution for my work - be it a zine, print, or website, etc. I'm inspired to spend more time innovating with the format of distribution along with the content itself.
Q: You're currently riding on a No. 22 Great Divide road disc. She's a beast and you definitely don't baby her. It's rad watching you throw it around. How are you liking it? And considering you're riding brakeless BMX, what's your take on disc?
A: That bike is awesome, I really enjoy it. It's comfortable over bad road conditions (Toronto) and long distances, yet has geometry and poise that makes sprinting and descending fun. It feels alive. In regards to discs - having ridden mountain bikes for years, hydro discs feel normal to me. Riding in city traffic and living in a northern climate, I'll take every bit of all-weather reliable stopping power I can get.
Q: So what's next for you? Any travel plans or upcoming projects you're stoked on?
A: I've just started a new Instagram account specifically for my street work, and am really excited about creating new photos for it. Aside from that, my goal is to film a lot more riding!