How An Architect Became Instagram Famous

Since Instagram was launched, more than 20 billion photos have been uploaded. With such a massive number of images being shared every day, it can be extremely difficult to stand out and distinguish yourself. We caught up with Vivien Liu, also known as @vdubl, to find out how she did it.


A graduate of Harvard University and an architect in Hong Kong, Liu has been taking pictures for years. Her stunning images resonate with people both at home and abroad and her following is close to 150 thousand people and growing steadily.


To gain the momentum, she attended meet-ups called ‘Instameets’. “Usually these events attract people with the same interests in photography and are opportunities for exchanging ideas, gaining technical knowledge and most importantly, making friends,” she told Bokeh.

Her training as an architect has had a huge impact on her photography, drawing her to the dense, urban landscape of Hong Kong and giving her a unique eye for photographing buildings.

“I was conditioned to see and portray space in a very technical order.”

Her eye is drawn to geometric patterns, and her images are filled with straight lines. As a result, her photos are often balanced and proportional. “In school, I had to render a conceptual space into something identifiable by the viewer. Interestingly, this way of translating space carried through to my photography. The difference may be that I am now portraying an existing space through my own way of seeing; and to my audience, the lines and proportions are what stands out,” she says.


Hong Kong is a dense urban jungle, with the largest number of skyscapers of any city in the world. With so many buildings, the opportunities for urban photography are endless. If you love your surroundings, as Liu does, it will translate into your work. Hong Kong is unique in the juxtapositioning of the built and natural environments, she says.

“To me, it’s the extreme contrast of natural and man-made, how a super high density urban environment can be just minutes away from a forest.”

Liu says that she has a camera on her at all times. She carries her iPhone 6s and a Moment 18mm Wide detachable lens on her all the time, so she is always prepared to snap a building at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, she shoots on her Nikon D810 with either a 14-24mm f/2.8, 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 or 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Her architectural eye, lightweight kit and ability to frame an image wherever she is has led to the creation of a portfolio that recognises a beauty in the city that many don’t see. And it has won Liu legions of fans. She puts this down to her evoking emotion. “You need a distinct style, and individuality to move people. The work has to have meaning to instil emotion and make the audience feel or react a certain way.”


To see more of her stunning shots visit her Instagram account here.

All images used with permission