10 Minutes with…Lee Mumford, Pilot & Photographer
An interview with Lee Mumford, Pilot and Photographer
Name: Lee Mumford | Occupation: Pilot | Location: Hong Kong | Known for: Pilot and Photography
Hong Kong is home to an abundance of creative talent, spanning across different career paths from aviation photographers to feng shui masters. Each week we interview some of the most notable creatives and entrepreneurs from around the city to learn some of their quirky habits, hopes and dreams, and “favourite things” to share with us. This week, we got up and personal with Lee Mumford, a photographer, and pilot based in Hong Kong.
Philippines, El Nido | Image courtesy of Lee Mumford
A Little Background…
Originally from the U.K, Hong Kong-based Lee Mumford has quite the eye for aerial metropolis and nature shots. Now based in Hong Kong, the pilot travels the world for work duties, and to pursue his passion for photography whilst abroad. That’s not to say Hong Kong isn’t also a core focus—some of Lee’s most incredible shots are taken in the city itself. The pilot-photographer also has an eco-conscience, striving to minimise waste wherever he travels and lives by WWF’s quote “we are the first generation to know we’re destroying the world, and we could be the last that can do anything about it”. With over 45 countries ticked on his holiday list and an Instagram handle with nearly 10k followers, Lee is always on the lookout for the next best photography opportunity.
Sri Lanka, Lee Mumford | Image courtesy of Lee Mumford
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I spent the early years of my life in the UK before moving to Hong Kong at the age of 6. Living in Asia introduced me to different cultures from a very early age and subconsciously planted that travel bug. After I fulfilled my dream of becoming an airline pilot, this gave me numerous opportunities to see some of the most incredible sights this planet has to offer. During my spare time, I try to travel to more remote parts of the world to capture something special.
2) When did you get into photography?
From a young age, I was always fascinated with photography. I remember having an old film camera and the use of a dark room where I would spend hours experimenting with films. Photography was soon left behind until I started to travel with work. My images were used as purely holiday snaps until I invested more time into the technical side of how to take successful images. This involved a lot of YouTube videos and online reading. Eventually, once I built up this knowledge, I started to experiment with different genres and created my own style that you see today.
3) How often do you travel?
My aim is to travel at least once a month. This could be a quick weekend trip in Asia or a longer trip for one to two weeks somewhere more remote—it all depends on how much time I have between work.
Hong Kong is one of my favourite places to be as a travel and cityscape photographer. My favourite city to photographs just so happens to be my home. There is so much to see: there are interactions between rich and poor, and a distinguishability between modern and historic monuments. What’s more, the visual stimulation coming from the bustling city streets contrasts the flourishing outdoors and nature in the countryside—making Hong Kong a spectacular destination to photograph. —Lee Mumford, Photographer and Pilot
4) What’s one thing you always take with you on your travels (minus the necessities)?
My hugely overweight camera bag! Afraid to miss a shot, I usually pack the majority of different lenses, my drone, filters, and a tripod. This gives me all the ammo needed to capture any situation that unfolds in front of me.
Norway, Lofoten, Lee Mumford | Image courtesy of Lee Mumford
5) Top 5 favourite destinations?
In no particular order:
Sri Lanka: I love the diverse landscape of this country. You can be in the hustle and bustle of the city of Colombo, to being in the tea plantations in Ella or catching some waves whilst swimming with turtles on the south coast. This place is amazing and not to mention the incredible food and super friendly locals.
East Java (Indonesia): This place is straight from the movies. The topography is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Huge waterfalls and giant volcanoes will help take your landscape photography to a different level.
Palawan (Philippines): This is one of the perfect places to capture some unique aerial images. The vast network of islands offers dream-like scenario which includes towering cliffs, rocky caves, and sugar-sandy beaches.
Lofoten (Norway): from 24 hours of sunlight to 24 hours of darkness, this place offers something for everyone if you pick the right time. I went during winter in order to capture the stunning Northern Lights, which should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Hong Kong: as a travel and cityscape photographer, I had to include my favourite city in the list which just so happens to be my home. The interaction between rich and poor, modern and historic, and from bustling streets to flourishing nature, Hong Kong offers so many angles for photography.
6) What camera do you use?
I’m currently using a Sony A7r iv. Being mirrorless, it offers a reduced body size whilst packing top-notch features. The huge megapixel count gives me greater flexibility when it comes to my print store. For my aerial work, I use a DJI Mavic 2 drone. This bit of kit is fantastic and really enjoyable to shoot with and opens up endless new opportunities to photograph.
7) What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started photography?
Get up early and chase the light. When I first starting shooting, I never understood how to take my images to the next level. What I didn’t realise was, it’s all about how the light hits your subject. When the sun is low in the sky, it adds so much more contrast to the image. Therefore, it is vital you capitalise on sunrise and sunsets. When I plan a trip, I will make use of every sunrise and sunset and use the daytime to travel, relax and plan the next big shot.
Indonesia, East Java, Lee Mumford | Image courtesy of Lee Mumford
8) How do you start your day?
When I’m on a photography trip, the day always starts with a sunrise shoot. I will try my best to stay as close to the pre-planned photography spot as possible. This allows me to maximise sleep and get to the spot before anyone else. This is a vital step if you’re shooting in a crowded spot. Normally, the first hour of the day provides the best light so I will make sure I take advantage of it. Then, it's normally straight to the nearest restaurant for a well-rewarded breakfast and a coffee.
When I plan a trip, I will make use of every sunrise and sunset and use the day time to travel, relax and plan the next big shot. —Lee Mumford, Photographer and Pilot
9) What’s the next country on your bucket list?
I would be travelling to Namibia in the next few weeks but due to the current situation, that has now been put on hold. It’s a place I’m super excited to visit so I will try my best to re-plan the visit for next year.
Hong Kong | Image courtesy of Lee Mumford
10) Favourite in-flight meal?
I would never say no to a burger!