Down to Earth – A Q&A with Anthony Chang

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At Vistek, our employees’ passion often result in insights, ideas and innovations – something that helps us continually blaze a trail in the world of imaging. And through his life-long passion for photography, Brampton, Ontario’s Anthony Chang has built a success all his own. Although his work (both commercial and portrait) bring forward the beauty and glamour of their subjects, Chang has never bought into the industry’s fabled, romanticized image. “I do this because I want to, because I like to and because it’s important to me. Photography is my life and I couldn’t be happier.”  Chang combines incredible lighting techniques with gorgeous natural backdrops to create something dazzlingly surreal, yet familiar and organic. We could not be happier to display Chang’s stunning pieces at our stores (beginning with our Mississauga location), which displays the continued  passion that’s shaped him – both as a professional and an artist.

Anthony Chang - Biography Photo

How did you get your start?

Long story short: I think it all started when I was a child. I often saw my dad bring his (at the time I thought it was high end) Pentax K1000, a 50mm F1.8 with his old Sunpak hammer flash. He would bring it to family events and take random photos. I thought it was the coolest-looking thing ever. Later on, I thought the same thing when he got a Polaroid OneStep 600. Particularly, seeing a photo develop in front of our eyes.

After that it was a slow and gradual process – from getting my first film camera (an old Minolta x700), lens, flash, you name it. And even though I didn’t take photography seriously when I was younger, I still liked bringing a camera wherever I went to take photos. 99% of the time it was junk and none of it would ever see the light of day. I was just taking photos for the sake of taking photos. It was a fun hobby when I was younger, and frankly it still is now!

What is your background/education?

I did actually go to Fanshawe College for Photography. I’d been taking photos for quite a few years before that and my first choice for College hadn’t worked out, so I figured I might as well see what would come out of photography, since it was a hobby of mine and something I really enjoyed. I figured it was better than just aimlessly going to classes I didn’t care for right?

My time at Fanshawe was pretty invaluable to me, though to be honest, I didn’t actually learn too much from my classes, since I went into the program with a fair bit of knowledge already, especially on the technical end of things. The classes were simply stepping stones – it’s what we did outside of class, the projects we did on our own accord helped me grow as a photographer. Not only that, my time at Fanshawe was invaluable because of the experiences I had while I was there, being surrounded by like-minded people, breaking out of my anti-social shell and making life long friends helped fuel my passion for photography.

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How long has photography been a passion?

Photography wasn’t much more then a hobby to me until I went into college. In my first year, I wasn’t even in the Photography program yet. Since I was on my own, all I wanted to do was go out and shoot more. I would spend a lot of time admiring other photographers and their work, spending most of my day playing with my cameras or just reading up on photography. The next year, I switched into the photography program. So, my passion for photography really kicked in when I went off to school, and frankly it has never gone away for a moment, because at this point photography is my life.

Do you have a favourite style or genre that you prefer to shoot?

Favourite style or genre that I prefer to shoot huh… That’s a tough one mainly because even when I look through all my work I don’t see a very cohesive style. I feel like I’m just gliding all over, but that’s just me. If anything I’d say I like taking portraits with a shallow depth of field. If there is one thing I do a lot its shooting wide open, I rarely stop my lens down.

Large aperture portrait

How important is it to you to maintain a creative pursuit outside of your job here at Vistek?

It’s quite important to me because if I didn’t I’d probably get a little stir crazy. I don’t think a day goes by without me taking out my camera and taking some kind of photo, whether it be a meaningless snapshot to a small little portrait session. I mean I’m one of those people that always carries a camera wherever I go, and frankly I’d like to keep it that way.

Is there anything you’ve learned at Vistek that has changed or helped what you do?

Working here at Vistek has helped because if kind of reminds me of being back at school again, being around other photographers is always something I really enjoy. We all have something in common and all learn a thing or two from each other. Not to mention being able to play with a lot of the newer cameras has helped quell that bit of gear lust I have since I can play with all of them here when I’m at work, you know when I have time that is. Mind you it didn’t really seem to do much for the gear lust I have for old film equipment though…

Fall Portrait on a fallen tree

What advice do you have for other photographers starting out?

For anyone new who is starting out all I have to say is don’t obsess over gear, as I’m sure we all know it doesn’t make you a better photographer (mind you, I’m one to talk, but I see myself as more of a collector then anything!). People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’m a Sony shooter, but hey almost all my photos were taken on a Sony and that doesn’t make them any worse. And lastly, don’t stop shooting, start a project for yourself and keep yourself motivated, I know its hard at times but it’ll always be worth it when you get that shot that one shot you wanted to most. I know too many people that just stopped shooting and have lost almost all drive and motivation for photography, and to me is just a little sad.

In a perfect world, how would you be paying the rent?

Ha in a perfect world I wouldn’t be paying rent any more, I’d just have my own place! But seriously in a perfect world I’d actually be making money off my photography and just going around the world doing travel/landscape photography.

What inspires your creativity?

Firstly the outdoors, the ambient light we get from the sun, clouds and sky inspire me. It’s part of the reason why I ended up calling myself Cloud Age Photo. Then my other big source of inspiration comes of other photographers, I spend a good amount of time on photo sharing sites like Flickr (especially Flickr since I’ve been using it for the longest time), 500px, and even Instagram, just looking at other peoples work inspires me.

Self Portrait of Anthony Chang in a field with bicycle

Do you have any favourite photographers?

I have way too many favorite photographers… On the sort list would probably have to be Gregory Heisler because his masterful control of lights, to me he is the master when it lighting a subject in a way that it does not look lit at all. Then Sandy Skoglund for her intricate installations and attention to detail. Rob Grimm for his amazing commercial work. Michael Levin for his unbelievably black and white landscape photography. Aaron Nace for his awesome photography and amazing Photoshop work. Benjamin Von Wong for his outstanding conceptual work. There are just way too many people I tell you! Plus, there are all the awesome photographers I follow on Flickr, just to name a few… Joel Robinson, Austin Tott, Kindra Nicole, Andrew Kufahl, Rob Woodcox, Bobby Becker… Seriously, I have too many favourite photographers!

Can you share with us anything that you’re working on right now?

Well not going to lie, at the moment I am taking a breather! I just finished my second 365 project at the beginning of this New Year and that was a fun project, taking a photo every day for a full year without fail. But compared to my first 365 I did, this one I had a lot more rules and restrictions, and I focused more on portrait photography this time around as well. I mean not every shot was a winner but each photo was taken very deliberately, no snap shots and most of the photos required some sort of set up in one way or another. Who knows, I might do one every other year at this rate or maybe I’ll start a 52 week project and just do one a week, since that would probably be a little less stressful! But at this point who knows! At the moment I’ve just gone back to shooting with my film cameras, every time I do a 365 I tend to not have much time for film work.

Woman in Hat

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A lot can happen in 10 years from now, I mean hey I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow. But one thins if for sure, and that’s the fact that I’ll still going around playing with all sorts of cameras and taking as many photos as I can, good or bad because regardless of what happens I’ll always just be shooting for myself, that’s just what makes it fun for me.

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Tell us a little about some of your favourite photo gear.

Another terrible question for the indecisive man… Have I mentioned I’m a bit of a collector? I’ve owned way to many cameras in my lifetime. So here are a couple interesting cameras that I own at the moment. My Zeiss Ikon (ZM), to me the best 35mm rangefinder ever made, I also have a Minolta CLE which is basically a smaller version of the Zeiss Ikon, and frankly has more in common with the Zeiss Ikon then any of the Leica M rangefinders. The newest addition to my collection and one of my personal favourite cameras ever made is the Hasselblad Xpan, I’ve always been a big fan of panoramic photos and this camera lets me do them without having to stitch in post or by “cheating” and doing a faux panorama (as in simply cropping the shot to fit a panoramic ratio). Then for medium format I’d have to say hands down my Fuji GW690, or if I want to travel lighter my Fuji GS645. Then you know on the digital end of things I still love my Sony a850, and my Sony RX1. Seriously I can go on and on but I’ll stop with that hahaha.

Nikon SB-800, Radio JrX, AA batteries.

What is your favourite photo accessory, other than your camera?

Favourite accessory huh? Guess I’m going to have to go with my speedlites/radio triggers since my speedlites are useless without my radio triggers so in my mind they come in a set. In particular my Nikon SB-800’s and my RadioPopper JrX system. The reason why my speedlites are useless without a radio trigger is because I’m shooting on a Sony with Nikon flashes; they don’t talk to teach other so I make them talk by using a radio trigger. No fancy TTL functions for me; I’m a pure manual shooter when it comes to flash work.

Sony RX-1If you had to choose just a single camera and lens would it be and why?

If I had to choose I’d have to say I’d go with my Sony RX1, I mean to me that thing is almost the perfect camera, I mean the autofocus and battery life could be better but that’s about it. Ever since I got one I’ve honestly been saying that if Sony came out with another RX1 with an 85mm F2 lens on it I’d drop my whole Sony Alpha system and just bring around two RX1 cameras, because 35mm and 85mm cover all my bases really. Its really just a great camera to me, the image quality is ridiculous and just having a 35mm F2 lens doesn’t bother me at all, it does almost everything I need really. Plus my favourite part is that it has a leaf shutter making it super quiet but also making it great for flash work, allowing me to sync my flash at any speed. Since I don’t shoot action or really anything that moves around a lot it works great for what I do and all in a small and lightweight package. So hands down I’d just take my Sony RX1… And like a dozen batteries.

Chang’s work can be seen in Vistek’s in-store gallery

DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Mississauga    January 13 2014 – January 31 2014
Ottawa            March 3 2014 – April 4 2014
Edmonton       May 5 2014 – May 30 2014
Calgary           August 11 2014 – September 12 2014
Willow Park    October 13 2014 – Nov 7 2014

You can see more of Anthony’s work online.
Anthony’s website: www.cloudagephoto.com
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yugus
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CloudAgePhoto

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