Steve Chong had developed a passion for landscape photography, the images he shot from Yuan Yang, China had helped him to obtain his associateship from the Royal Photographic Society on the 16, June 2009. He had also published a book entitled: “The Light & Mist of Yuan Yang” with the images he shot from his many expeditions there.
Luxurious Magazine: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Steve and congratulations on the launch of your new book ‘The Light & Mist of Yuan Yang’. How long did it take to compile the images for the book from conception to the time you held the first copy in your hand?
Steve Chong: Hello, and thank you for your interest in my work. Well, I have been travelling to Yuan Yang for the past four years documenting, photographing and writing the narratives. It took me three months to lay down the design and took more than a month for the printing to be completed.
Tell us how you first got into Photography?
Steve Chong: When I got an assignment to design a webpage for the town I live, back in 2001, I discovered my photos were absolutely terrible! I must say I have almost committed all the “crimes” that a photographer could possibly commit. So, I set off on a mission to better my photography, and as the saying goes, the rest is history!
What was the first camera you owned?
Steve Chong: Oh I started with a point and shoot, the Olympus Mju II. One fine camera I must say, and it was analogue.
Are there any places or moments during your photographic journeys that stand out above all others?
Steve Chong: My very first ‘nirvana’ moment was taking an image called “I Need You”. It was a stem leaning on a bottle. The exposure was set at 30s and the lighting source came from the computer monitor. I wrote a very simple BASIC language routine to get the colour I desired. I was absolutely stunned to see the image appearing in the print. The long exposure has rendered such subtle and gentle lighting which I felt made the two subjects came alive.
The other moment was when I first discovered the unexplored territory of my brain, where I could “see” images that were surreal, something I had never experience of seen before. I got so excited that these images even appeared in my dream. It was then I realised I had a mission. That is to bring all these images to life. This is how my conceptual images with the hands and eyes came to reality. Of course, I still see these images, and I will shoot more this year.
As far as shooting landscape is concerned, I’ve had some wonderful experience shooting at Yuan Yang, especially when I encountered the ray beams, like the ones on the cover of my book. It was an absolute privilege to be there at exactly the right time.
What ‘standard’ equipment do you take out with you for general everyday photography?
Steve Chong: I am an ardent user of Sigma. They are so kind to me, they sponsor almost all my digital equipment. For general work, I have the Sigma SD15, EX10-20, EX17-50, EX50-150
If money was no object, what photographic equipment would be on your ‘ultimate wish list’?
Steve Chong: That’s a good question and a very tough one! I guess a digital Medium format camera which is light and fast enough to do street photography would be good enough.
Aside from being Steve Chong professional photographer, you are also co-author of “Photo Creator” and “Advanced Images”, tell us what that involves?
Steve Chong: My responsibilities involve conducting interviews and also writing tutorials on Photoshop.
In brief, what basic tips would you offer to any amateur photographers reading this, and what’s the most common mistake you see amateur photographers making?
Steve Chong: Follow your heart and trust your instincts. I find that generally, they are paying lots of attention to the technical aspect while not giving enough emphasis on the emotional aspect of photography. In-depth knowledge about the camera and equipment is good but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll become a great photographer, just a good technician. Photography is about emotion, it is about thoughts, it is about passing a message.
Do you have any plans to produce another book in the near future?
Steve Chong: Yes, hopefully, I could release the Mandarin, Japanese and Indonesian versions of “The Light and Mist of Yuan Yang”, as a matter of fact, they are ready to be printed and I am looking for some sponsors. I am also hoping to publish a new book about how to shoot still life, and I also have plans of producing books on the places I have photographed.
When you eventually decide to hang up your camera, how would you like Steve Chong to be remembered?
Steve Chong: Ah, that’s a tough question too. Well, perhaps I would like to be remembered as someone who did some different stuff, someone who had contributed to the development of photography.
Is there anything else you would like to add or sponsors you would like to mention?
Steve Chong: I would like to thank Sigma, especially to the COO, Mr. Kazuto Yamaki, who had been supporting me all this while, someone who believes in me, knowing what I could do with a camera.
Steve Chong – Where and how?
To learn more about the photographer Steve Chong, see his work and get in contact, please visit his official website here.
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