A Life reInspired: Lee Yik Keat – reBynd
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This is a series that celebrates new beginnings. Through it, we discover and tell the stories of people who have seen the potential of another life and took a leap of faith to reinvent themselves in their personal or professional lives. What does it take to start over? What new discoveries about life and self have they made on their journey? This month, we had the pleasure of chatting with Lee Yik Keat, whose trajectory has taken him from aerospace to photography, and given him a whole new way of seeing life and the world around him.

A Life reInspired:

Lee Yik Keat
Travel Photographer & Storyteller

“I felt as if life has presented me with a blank canvas to paint whatever I want on it… I started to find meaning in the daily life, which has inspired me to showcase the cinematic, beautiful and interesting in everyday moments.”

Can you give us an introduction of who you are?
YK: My name is Lee Yik Keat, otherwise known as YK. My friends call me Yik Keat :) I’m a freelance photographer, taking photos of everyday life and moments in between. I enjoy people watching over a cup of tea, going for runs and searching for new music to vibe to. I was born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore from the age of three. Fast forward at age 27 now, I am grateful to be able to pursue photography full time.

How have you reinvented your life, work and yourself?
YK: I never imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing today. Coming from an aerospace background in school, I figured it would only be natural to pursue a job in the airline industry. But then, nine years ago, photography came into my life and took me by surprise. My whole life changed. Taking that leap of faith to pursue photography full time has put me in the driver’s seat of my life — I have the autonomy to determine how much time I want to spend on work, and how much I want to achieve. With that, I felt as if life has presented me with a blank canvas to paint whatever I want on it. In this big shift and decision to pursue my creative passion, I started to find meaning in the daily life, which has also inspired me to showcase the cinematic, beautiful and interesting in everyday moments.

Was it a clear or difficult decision in the beginning?
YK: It definitely wasn’t clear. With such a great prospect, a good salary and stable career progression working in the airline industry, it was difficult to convince everyone and even myself that photography would be equally if not exponentially better and more fulfilling as a career choice. It took me about two years to finally convince my family and for me to take that leap of faith.

What did you discover about yourself on this journey? In what ways have you surprised yourself and how has this changed you?
YK: I discovered that I am a very systematic and practical person. This is very interesting because I’m constantly surrounded by spontaneity and impracticality. Over the years I have tried to push myself to become a more creative and spontaneous person. It didn’t really work out, but it made me realise that I’m really a hybrid of a creative person and a pragmatic who who trains my eyes to see the world around me. I’ve learned to use that realisation to my advantage — to compose and break down image frames in a very practical and logical manner so that people could understand what they’re looking at.

What has been the best thing about this new beginning / “second life”?
YK: Pursuing photography has been all sorts of amazing. One of the best things is being able to travel around the world, experience the cultures of different countries and bring a little of that home with me.

The world humbles and teaches me to be grateful and more mindful.

What or who are you most grateful for in the course of this new path?
YK: I’m very grateful for the support of my friends and family now. They help to ground me while pushing me to new heights.

I'm also grateful to my partner, who helps me to see things in more perspectives that I am capable of. Where I'm only able to scratch the surface of things, she’s the one who is able to dig deep in a way that opens up my eyes to seeing more possibilities. She also inspires me to romantise life a little more, to enjoy and add more depth to the daily things that I do.

If you could turn back time, knowing what you know now, would you make this choice — a different life/career — all over again?
YK: I truly believe this is a choice that I will make over and over again. I won’t trade this for anything else in the world. I am very happy and grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given so far.

Let’s talk about sustainability, which as you know is at the heart of reBynd’s purpose. Can you tell us what some of your own daily eco-friendly practices are?
YK: I’ve been trying to reduce my usage of plastic straws. That’s one. I have also been more conscious about electricity consumption, turning off everything whenever I head out of the house. In general, I’m cultivating greater mindfulness around reducing wastage, whether it’s food or paper, opting to go digital with bills and receipts, etc, wherever I can.

What is your favourite reBynd item? How do you see yourself using/styling it? How would you re-purpose any part of the packaging?
YK:I love the Keep It Light Pouch S a lot as it serves as a holder for all my small items such as my eyedrops, SD cards and cables. I would add little shoulder strap to it so I can carry it hands-free.

What’s your current favourite word beginning with “re”?
YK: reCalibrate.

Photography by Hosanna Swee


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