May/June 2023

by Silke Hartung

FromThePit 2023: Dalong Ye-Lee

by Silke Hartung

FromThePit 2023: Dalong Ye-Lee

Celebrating five years of local music photography exhibition FromThePit, an exceptional collection of iconic contemporary live snaps was chosen to be on digital display across publicly accessible screens of Aotearoa in May 2023, including a placement in the Parliament visitor centre at the Beehive. This is Dalong Ye-Lee who submitted her photo of Tāmaki Makaurau rapper Melodownz.

melodownz fromthepit dalong ye-lee

What’s your name, where are you from and how did you get into photography?

Dalong Ye-Lee, born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, now based in Naarm.

I’ve always had a fascination with cameras and taking photos growing up, playing with my parent’s film and digital cameras when I was younger, buying my first Fujifilm digital point-and-shoot when I was 13. I’ve been obsessed with cars my whole life and spending my teenage years on Tumblr built the foundations of why I am a photographer now. I borrowed friends’ old DLSRs and taught myself how to shoot properly, picking up a Nikon D7100 after working a summer job in 2013 (ten years ago!). Throughout uni, I would shoot social and faculty events while trying to break into automotive and product photography. When I was old enough to go out and experience live music, I went to gigs almost every week and pivoted into live music and music artistry in 2017, shooting for Odesza at the Auckland Town Hall. Since then photography has become a career, alongside my day job as a mechanical engineer working in sustainability. The two lives keep each other in balance and i love both immensely.

What’s your philosophy around taking photos?

Being present. Every second that passes by could be a blip in time, but one worth capturing. Using your camera as a tool to tell a visual story, to freeze memories for those who were there to witness the moment, and to retell the story for those who were not. Allowing light, both naturally and artificially to set the mood, and the creative direction and grade and scene to all work together to solidify the energy.

Which Kiwi act do you enjoy taking photos of most and why?

Leisure. I’ve been blessed enough to have known and worked with the band for almost half a decade now. The most musically talented and kind six humans as individuals brought together as a supergroup. Spending time with the crew is always fun, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing them perform.

If you could pick one camera, one lens and one flash, which ones would you pick, and why?

Canon 5D mk IV, Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II USM, Profoto B1X. The foundational workhorses of my job and passion. There is nothing they cannot do. (A newer camera like a Canon R5 for video would be nice soon, though)