Just like her Instagram feed would suggest, you probably couldn’t get much sweeter than Li-Chi Pan if you tried. Despite her 430K+ followers on the social media platform, she remains down-to-earth and humble – shyly brushing aside any attempts at a compliment for her incredible talents.
Meeting with her in the uber-stylish MAXCONNECTORS office, where she works as a Content Editor, Li-Chi hugs me on arrival before excitedly taking me over to a shoot she is concepting that day for #ELLEinspires. Swiping through the collection of images, I am, as always, blown away by how she can transform an icecream cone and assortment of lollies into a work of art. But then that’s what makes her so unique.
After allowing me to capture some shots of her at work, I stole Li-Chi away for a chat about all things Instagram (including her favourite filter), concepting for shoots, and what’s next on the agenda…
We absolutely love your Instagram account! What inspired you to originally begin it?
I started Instagram initially to keep in touch with friends and family overseas. I loved taking photos and felt that Instagram was the perfect platform to showcase my daily activities.
You have a very individual dreamy style. How did you perfect this ideal?
My Instagram style took quite a while to develop as I started out shooting on an iphone4! After trying many apps as well as cameras over the last two years, I finally developed a style I’m proud of.
Have your skills developed greatly since first starting out?
Yes! My eye for composition and editing style has improved quite significantly. I’ve also developed better people skills as I used to be quite shy.
What key things have you learnt in regards to aesthetics since launching your Instagram?
I think paying careful attention to the grid of nine is quite important, as well as maintaining a coherent theme and style in editing your images as it encourages people to follow you.
Do you ever go back and look at your first pics? What do you think when you look back?!
Yes! I refuse to delete old images as it’s a good reminder of how far I’ve come. I love going back to my old work as I like to see how my style has developed over the last few years.
Do you usually shoot your pics on a camera or iPhone?
95 per cent is on iPhone and 5 per cent is on camera or my Canon Mark iiiD.
How much time do you then spend editing a pic?
Do you have a favourite filter?
Yes! Se1 VSCO.
Do you spend a lot of time each day dedicated to Instagram?
I try to upload once daily. But if I’m feeling tired or run down, I take a day off. I try not to spend too much time on it. Offline time is really important to me!
How do you concept for a shoot?
Before a shoot I will look at Pinterest as a big source of inspiration. Depending on the client, I always head to Pinterest and I’ll type in keywords, then I’ll put together a mood board collage. I like to gather a whole bunch of ideas and then draw and edit whatever I like or don’t like. Because I studied architecture, I like to visualise and draw my own concepts but inspired from other people. I usually sketch out an image of how I want it to look like beforehand. If it’s a food or lifestyle shot, I’ll write down a list of what I need to buy and then I go prop shopping. I’l then execute the whole concept and spend a day shooting.
What methods did you originally undertake to help build a following?
Upload daily, keep a consistent style in editing and have a theme.
When did you first start noticing your numbers really growing?
When I hit 100,000 my following grew exponentially.
What was the catalyst for this?
Keeping on trend with anything that was new in the market and showcasing it on my Instagram first.
What has been your biggest highlight since becoming an blogger?
That was this year. I was asked to film an advert for Lancôme. Because I’m quite camera shy, and quite shy in general, being filmed for an advert was quite a big deal. I’d never had much on-camera experience. Having to memorise main bullet points and trying to incorporate my experience into the film as organically as possible was quite surreal. I remember I was on YouTube looking up something and I pressed enter and my own advert came up and I was like “Oh my God!” It was so unreal.
You studied architecture, but are now doing something completely different. Do you ever want to get back into architecture? Do you miss it?
I do miss it, but I’ve always had a big passion for photography and design. I think a huge part of architecture is quite evident in my images – everything is quite composed and I pay attention to symmetry, tonal colours and negative space. There’s just little things that I’ve developed over the years from studying architecture that has led me to be quite a perfectionist in my photography. I think eventually once I, hopefully, have a family one day, I would definitely want to return to architecture.
Have you made great friends with other successful Instagrammers?
Yes! Some of my best friends I’ve met through Instagram. It’s really great to have a supportive group of creatives who understand and accept your work.
Who are some of the key friends you’ve made?
@Taramilktea, @fluffpiece, @Koentadyy, @prettyfrowns, and @Fluffegram.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
As an editorial photographer, I hope.
What are your five top tips for budding Instagrammers?
Be patient (good things take time), upload daily, engage with other people’s content, develop a consistent editing style, and have a theme!
Visit Li-Chi Pan’s Instagram at www.instagram.com/lichipan.
Words and images by Husskie Editor Yelena Fairfax.