It is difficult to stick a label on Charlie Lim. Art director, commercial photographer, fine arts veteran – he has tasted them all, and still continues to test the boundaries of photography in a career that has spanned over four fruitful decades. His works encompass a broad range of subjects, from food and product advertising to industrial and aerial works; a range challenging even to the professional photographer. Yet Charlie weaves it all into a watertight presentation of his trademark artistry, where every work is stamped with his inimitable signature.
Oil Painting Photography is Charlie’s magnum opus. Struck by the dramatic chiaroscuro of oil paintings, Charlie sought to transport its brilliance from canvas to print. Transport he did – in the process pioneering a whole new photographic revolution. Under the cloak of a darkened room, wielding a light torch as his paintbrush, Charlie paints his subject.
In an age where digital manipulation has become ubiquitous, Charlie is a rebel. The key to his Oil Painting Photography is simplicity. Dimmed room, light torch, camera. Action. In the hands of a master photographer, digital enhancement is minimal. In terms of such masters, there isn’t anyone quite like Charlie. A nominee of Singapore’s Spirit of Enterprise Award, Charlie was in the running for Ngee Ann Kongsi’s Photographer of the Year (2012). His works have been exhibited at the Singapore Design Festival (2009). Globally, Charlie has appeared on Channel News Asia’s Primetime Morning, Channel U’s Money Matters, and most recently is one of 200 international artists featured in the World Wide Art Book Vol. II. He also received nominations for the 5th and 6th International Color Awards Annual Photography Masters Cup (USA).
Working reality has always been Charlie’s trustiest classroom, and commercial photography is his bread and butter to this day. His wealth of experience has garnered a steady, ever-growing clientele for pre-wedding, advertising and food photography, and he has also gained popularity for both infant and conceptual artistic shoots. Charlie can boast of a clientele as star-studded as his industry accolades; actors and politicians alike have had their portraits gracing his studio walls.
For Charlie, artistic progress shouldn’t be contained within the individual. It should be shared. Charlie has mentored photographers under the National Arts Council, and conducts intensive workshops of intimate class sizes. On an international front, he is a frequent key speaker at photography shows in the Philippines and Malaysia. Charlie will also be one of a thousand photographers involved in a UNESCO-supported night shoot at Borobudur to enter the Guinness Book of Records 15/5/15.
In his plans for the future, Charlie hopes to travel around the world to ‘light-paint’ people of every nationality. Southeast Asia is just one region of the globe he has conquered. He is also working to push photography into the realm of household utility with his wall design business, CLIP (Charlie Lim International Photography). CLIP produces ‘Talking Walls’ – highly personalised imagery for every surface, from walls to mirrors, to wood and fabrics. He hopes his ‘Talking Walls’ will take pride of place in homes, offices, restaurants and hotels.
“Photography is constantly evolving. Cameras change. Photographic mediums change,” says Charlie. “Five year olds are snapping pictures today. If we want to be in the action we cannot stay static. We must evolve with it.”