In collaboration with Prestige, Johnnie Walker Blue Label explores the deep and creative souls committed to overcoming adversity to refine their art forms.
Just as Johnnie Walker Blue Label combines Scotland’s rarest and most exceptional whiskies to create an unrivalled masterpiece, these creators draw from significant experiences to shape their work.
Documentary & Sports Photographer
A former national figure skater turned documentary photographer, Annice Lyn is no stranger to taking on new and formidable challenges while overcoming adversity. As the first and only Malaysian female photographer to be accredited in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Annice has been on a path of swift ascent in the male-dominated field.
An alumna of the Prestige 40 Under 40 list in 2020 and Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021, Annice’s work has also graced the cover of Time Magazine’s April 2021 issue featuring art by Red Hong Yi. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Annice captured historical moments at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics before venturing to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Despite numerous accolades, the Canon EOS Youth Ambassador remains grounded and humble. She vocally advocates for equality while championing female photographers in Malaysia, nurturing a supportive haven of industry peers through Women Photographers Malaysia. Annice is also an affiliate member of Women Photograph, an international non-profit launched to elevate the voices of women and non-binary visual journalists. At present, the organisation’s data projects that the world may only reach gender parity in photojournalism as late as 2057.
“You have to pave the way if no one else has. But, I have learned that once you make choices, not everyone will agree with what you do, and you do have to bear the consequences along the way,” she shares. Three years ago, an associate told Annice that she would never make it to the Beijing Olympics. “I took a screenshot of that conversation, printed it out, folded the piece of paper up and kept it in my wallet. Over the last few years, whenever I felt like giving up, I would take it out and read it. When I was in Beijing recently, I threw it away there,” she mentions, laughing.
It was cathartic to find closure, Annice explains. “At the end of the day, no one should hold on to toxicity towards naysayers. As long as you find closure for yourself that you’re not what they say – that’s all that matters.” At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Annice was just one of 77 female photographers with press accreditation, next to 667 male peers. Four years later, in Beijing, female photographers had increased to 80, with the men still vastly outnumbering at 523. “It shows that we still have a lot of work to do. The industry is changing with editors and publishing houses hiring more female photographers, yet change will not come overnight,” Annice affirms.
The visual storyteller regards herself as a work-in-progress, always seeing room for improvement in her craft. “To be a documentary photographer is very taxing. You have to master being calm in the midst of chaos,” she says. The job is demanding both physically and mentally. “A lot of eyes are on you and what you produce. It can feel like there’s no escape,” she describes. “Corralled together with other photographers from local, international and even competitor agencies, we are all there to capture an event in the same place and time. The only difference is our output – the photograph.”
Knowing there is only one chance to get it right, Annice agrees there are always some nerves to handle. “That said, I live by the motto that ‘if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail’.” She dedicates thorough effort to do her homework before shoots, from looking up references to gaining general knowledge about her subject and setting.
Taking care of her health has recently become more apparent to the young photographer. She has rekindled a love of FlyCycling and also enjoys riding outdoors. “I do Muay Thai too. I used to be timid and would suppress all my feelings as an introvert,” Annice mentions. The combat sport helps clear her mind, while her commitment to physical fitness has only grown deeper.
“It might sound bizarre, but the greatest tip I ever got is to weigh all of my equipment ahead of a workout regime. If I don’t have specific equipment yet, I do my research to calculate an estimate of what I have to handle. If it’s 15kg, I go to the gym and carry that weight so that when I’m on the assignment later, I’m able to run and manoeuvre my equipment with ease.”
On the road to self-actualisation, Annice believes in the importance of self-reflection. Through 2022, the photojournalist has found herself thrust into different states every week for various projects leading up to the trip to Botswana for the Forbes summit.
“I realised when I was returning home from Africa that this was the life that I once dreamed of having. The life I worked so hard to achieve. If you’re not mindful, you may miss the success and complain rather than feel grateful and proud. It’s important find self-awareness, and to have a few friends, family and peers to keep you grounded and accountable.”
Photography & Videography: Micky Wong @ New Storyboards Photography
Assistants: CJ and Theng Wei
Hair & Makeup: Joey Yap
This story Johnnie Walker Blue Label story was first published in Prestige Malaysia’s June 2022 issue. To read the latest issue, pick up a copy from the nearest newsstand or subscribe on Magzter.