Here's my try on it, not very into translation lah...
This year, John Clang is the first Singaporean photographer to make his name in New York, earning an average daily income of SGD$60,000.
Growing up as a rebellious child in a one-room flat, at 17, he decided to become a professional photographer. At 25, after becoming famous in Singapore he and his wife shifted to NY to further his career there. Now, he's a key photographer under the famous agent company, Arts and Commerce. He was the youngest photographer to win the "Most Popular Commercial Photographer" award 3 yrs ago.
When ask to comment on his survival and success in NY, he said:"Luck aside, one must be able to take hardship. If life has 2 roads to its destination, choose the harder one."
1)Growing up in a one-room flat
His father was an assistant at a Changi hawker stall while his mother was an assistant in a Chinese Restaurant. At that time, John would helped out at the restaurant after school. Their home was a one-room flat in Bedok, later, upgrading to a 3-room flat.
Growing up in this environment, John did not felt inferior nor was he moltivated. Instead, it create in him an interest in the lives of ordinary people. In his upcoming exhibition at the Esplanade, his theme is based on a the life of an ordinary cobbler, Sheng Wei.
"Sheng Wei has a background similar to mine. He is like my incarnation. I will shoot him till death occurs. If this kind of work portraying the similarity of 2 lives, can capture the audiences' attention for a few seconds, its enough."
His parent don't quite understand the line of work he chose. Back then, when John goes on overseas assignments with Zoe Tay, he would take a photo with her and send it back to his mum. He grew up in dialect-speaking family and reads online chinese papers with his wife in NY.
2. One teacher guided, another nearly destroyed him
While in secondary school, John met 2 entirely different teachers. One recognised his talent and supported him. Another branded him a rebellious student and chided him.
His Chinese teacher saw the passion in John and adviced him to pursue it. He took the advice and never went to JC. Instead, he went into the arts circle.
In contrast, his maths teacher classified him as a problem student. As a result, John skipped maths classes for 2 yrs. However, he still managed to score well in his maths subject, thus changing his teacher's perception.
"Teachers has the power to shape the destiny of their students. It is not wise to pass judgement early as it may be the wrong one." John said
On the other hand, his girlfriend went on to complete her studies and graduated from uni. His friends couldn't understand why he seemed to be ruining his life. Thinking that he was a bad influence, they started to stray from him, leaving him with few friends.
"As a result, I wanted to prove to them that the path I chose is also a path. In fact, its the correct one for me. Every decision I make is for the better.
Okie, u r talking abt this photographer called John Clang..interesting guy, met him a couple of times years back..yeh, he sort of made it in NY in Fashion photography..this is old news...not surprising that he can make that kind of money but it is a misconception to think that he earns that kind of money every day for 30 days in a month, 12 months in a year..believe me it is not. Only when he has assignments but what abt when he doesnt have any in between..
Anything can happen in the US, wedding photographers can charge US$20,000 per wedding assignment..like Monte Zucker or Dennis Reggie or Clay Blackmore...
As the Chinese saying goes, there is excellence to be achieved in
We must strive to be the best, to earn the best and hence demand nothing but the best......
Remember this is only probably the 1% of the total professional photographer
popoulation in the whole world that makes that much money......
Also remember that 60k or 50k a day may not be for every day as it is job based.......
3.BGR "it's ok so long as they don't go out of line"
AT 13, after transfering from Chung Cheng High to Anglican High, Clang met his wife, Miss Zhang(now Mrs Ang) and fell in love with her immediately. They started dating at 14 and got married at 23. Altogether, they've been with each other for 17 years.
Getting into a relationship at such an early age, her parents were unhappy and worried that their daughter would get cheated. They also hoped that she marry well. Only after a year of marriage did her parents start to accept Clang. He said, "locally, there was rumours that I married a rich wife and was living off her. The fact is, her father is a cab driver and rents a flat"
"Love is a kind of feeling that should be natural and left to be. To tell teenagers not to fall in love is furtile. Just advice them not to go out of line would do."
Love moltivates. His wife plays the role of commander-in-chief and inspires Clang to reach career peaks time after time.
At 17, Clang gave up JC education and aspiring to go into photography. At 21, he saved up $5000 and his wife told him, "Why don't we start a photo studio?" Hence, they rented a $2500 studio with minimal lighting equipment. With it, they worked hard and obtain recognition for their work.
One morning, at 4am, his wife said,"why don't we go to NY. They have the world's best photographers there." Off they went.
"i'm a hardworking fellow but one who does not like to take up too many challenges. I was already enjoying the fruits of my labour then. But she convinced me that I was seeking photography as an art form, not commercial photography. I then picked up the courage to invest $10,000 and went to NY. In the event that I failed, I would fly back to Singapore."
The first year was the hardest for Clang and he thought of giving up. It was his wife's persistance that saw him through.
"NY then, had a lot of competing photographers and they were really good. It was difficult to stand out. We were low on funds and miss home terribly. It was really stressful and I had to fall sick. I didn't realise it, but we were in heavily in debt then. I had a poor concept of money management and my wife kept assuring that we were fine, hiding our financial truth from me. Only after a year, when there was a bit of result from my work did we manage to pay off our debt. If I've known beforehand, I would have considered her feelings and not let her go through such hardships.
4. Decision to stay in NY. NY allows him to pursue his passion
Even being color-blind, at 31, he bought a 1400 sq feet studio with a 7 digit price tag in NY's Soho district.
He's now able to pick the projects he wants to do and only accepts 5 or 6 project annually. Working 12 hours a day, each projects takes up 1 to 2 months of his time. He takes his work seriously and finds it hard to relax. The expectation he sets for himself is rather high and accepts no failure on his part. Strangely, he falls seriously ill after each project's completion.
He's wife is his assistant, agent, accountant, producer and critic. Clang only handles the photography work. As of today, his clients include the likes of Ikea, Motorola, Levi's, Hermes, Nordstrom, Nike and many more. Currently, he's doing adverts for Godiva and IBM.
This year, he made the decision to stay permanently in NY stating that its the kind of city where he can pursues his passion relentlessly.
"NY is a strange city. 3 months here feels like 6 months elsewhere, leaving me breathless. However, I would miss the city even if I leave NY for a mere 2 weeks. New Yorkers value talent and respects those who create. Its really comfortable to work here and the open environment allows me to explore my ideas and creativity. This makes NY a place for me to stay on a long term basis. Singapore on the other hand is more suited for me to relax as its quieter and I have the luxury of time to think"
Clang returns to Singapore twice annually and stays for about 2 weeks each.
Some describe Singaporean students as "dumb"; Clang feels "lazy" is a better word. Singaporean kids are a pampered lot. With just a few tricks up their sleeves, they try to make it in the real world. Their fundamentals aren't strong and they're not moltivated to do well. They are always like this, whether in school or at work.
Many younger photographers has asked Clang for opportunities to work in America. To that, he commented that he focuses on portfolios and talent. Chances of a successful introduction to the industry aren't really high. That's mainly due to the fact that these photographers knowledge is simply to shallow, aren't familiar with artistic history nor are they strong at artistic appreciation. They only know how to bury themselves and work with magazines/books as references. They based their standards on them and thus lack understanding of themselves, their culture and lifestyle. Passion in life is the most important element.
Other than luck, one must be able to take hardship. If there's 2 paths to the same destination in life, he advises youths to take the harder one. Only then, would they be able to experience life and build up on their own fundamentals.
Disclaimer:Translator bears no responsibilities whatsoever if there's any mistake in translation.
haha... hope u guys enjoy... the last section is the hardest, feels like he's scolding me directly. hahaha.... ;p