Kiss project


In the echo of Valentine fever I am presenting you an interesting photo project.
It is a “Kiss project”, a wonderful mixture of documentary immediacy, voyeur gaze and crisp elegance of Black&White. It is done by SML, a.k.a. See-ming Lee, young, productive and highly driven Chinese chap, a designer and as he calls himself: technologist by trade, on professional exile in US. I don’t know if you already heard about See-ming Lee, but if you didn’t, you definitely should.

Last week he took some of his valuable time – I doubt he sleeps much :P – and was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

Kiss: In the Heat of Passion (copyright by See-ming Lee)

Where do you originally come from? You are, as I understand, a Chinese. What does a Chinese do in New York? How did you end up there?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong. My dad is a professor and my mom is a housewife. After high school, I came to America to study graphic design at Yale. When I graduated in 1999, I moved to New York to work as a designer in interactive media and have been living here ever since.

What started a Kiss project? Why kisses?
I started the kiss project out of the blue in 2007. Before then I rarely photograph people – I mainly use photography as means to study compositions. Photographing people tends to have much constraints, such as requiring model releases and I tend to stay away from it.
This project pretty much started as a casual shot from a single photograph, Kiss between Jeffrey H and Hector G. Jeffrey eventually asked me to go photograph some of his events. Like almost all of my projects, it started with a single theme and became serious over time.
I don’t photograph anything in the studio usually, and I find that kisses are most realistic if they are done wholeheartedly, so now I just made a habit of asking to see if people would kiss in front of the camera while I was doing event photography.
For me, kiss is a test for compatibility – it’s a deal breaker for my own relationships. It is important to me, so why not start a whole project on it?

Which photo machinery do you use?
I have been photographing with a Canon EOS SLR since I was a teenager, so naturally when I decided to get my first DSLR, I went with the 10D. Now that camera has been retired and I photograph with the Canon 7D and I’m very happy with it.
I own a variety of lenses but these days the 24-70 f/2.8L is almost always on. I use the 100 f/2.8 Macro for macro photography, but it also works fairly well as a portrait lens. I also liked the 17-40 f/4L very much and that is predominantly what I use for photographing bridges. The 70-200 f/4L is rarely used these days because I try to travel light and that lens is not very useful unless mounted on a tripod.
If you are curious as to what equipment I use, there’s a whole Flickr collection, sorted by my equipment.

Do you manipulate photos?
I am relatively a photo purist so I don’t really do heavy-handed editing – but yes I do take the time to process photos individually in Lightroom and Photoshop. I spent many years in the darkroom when I used to shoot film.
People often think that digital photography is just a one-click matter. Not true at all! I see the RAW files as negatives, and I go into Photoshop and manually adjust curves, color balance, dodge + burn for most of my photos. None of my black and white photos are a simple conversion – I take the time to use different filter settings to get just the right overall balance for me.
But aside from the minor touches I don’t do heavy manipulation in my photos. Well, with the exception of a new series called SML8 that I’m working on which has to do with applying my brand colors onto existing photos to create new things. But that series is new and I don’t consider it as pure photography anyhow – it’s really for of an art project which fuses design methodology with my photography.

Thank you, See-Ming! :)

7 Responses to “Kiss project”

  1. 1 Anonimus

    Hi, that was without a doubt an awesome post. I had actually been searching for a photo printing related article for a while now. Appreciate it! I have a similar blog, how much do you charge for advertising? because I can’t seem to find the information anywhere.

    • 2 112mirabela

      I don’t do advertising. I publish what I feel is worth publishing.
      In that manner I deleted your link and if you wish next time to be named, do type your personal name.

  2. I was just checking out the web for other photographers and found this site, and must say I’m happy I did. Very nice information you have throughout the site. If you get a chance, take a look at my gallery at

  3. 5 katalina

    I really appreciated encountered this post, continue creating much more like this.

  4. Thanks for this! Much love to you :)


    • 7 112mirabela

      My pleasure, See-ming. You deserve nothing but, your photos are grand. Love back!

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