Location: Abu Dhabi/Dubai, UAE
Philip Cheung is a photographer currently based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Originally from Toronto, Canada, he relocated to the Middle East in 2007 and has worked extensively in the region on commissioned and self-initiated projects. Cheung’s work has been published and exhibited internationally, including the 2nd Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism in Hanover, Germany, and the Flash Forward Festival in Toronto, Canada.
I studied Graphic Design at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. I graduated in 2004, and I started working as a print and web designer. It wasn’t long after graduating when I began teaching myself photography by reading books, looking at and studying other photographers’ work that I found inspiring, and most importantly, by trial and error.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Since I didn’t have formal training in photography, I owe most of what I’ve learned to other photographers and editors. I think it’s important to surround yourself with others who have the same passion and commitment toward photography. You can learn a lot from your peers by talking about project ideas, looking over edits and conversing about all aspects of photography. By doing so, there’s a kind of cyclical growth between each other; that’s vital in progressing as a photographer.
What was your first photography job?
My first freelance job was a portrait for Report on Business magazine in Toronto.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Try shooting all genres of photography—documentary, photojournalism, portraiture, still life and fashion. Figure out what feels right and what you get the most satisfaction from. Expose yourself to as much photography as you can, look at books, visit galleries, attend artists’ lectures, look at websites and read blogs, keep current with industry news, constantly find inspiration and learn from it.
What inspires you about photography?
Photography is a means of entry to meet people and visit places that you normally might not have access to. It gives you a chance to temporarily explore the lives of your subjects.
What makes you go out and shoot?
To work on personal projects that interest me; to be able to tell a story.
What do you like best about the whole process?
The spontaneous, unpredictable moments I find myself in.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24mm ƒ/1.4L II USM, Canon EF 35mm ƒ/1.4L USM, Canon EF 50mm ƒ/1.2L USM, Canon 580EX II Speedlites, PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers.
What do you think it takes to be successful in today’s challenging and competitive marketplace?
I think it’s important to find your own voice and create your own path; don’t change your style to follow industry trends. Keep learning, be persistent, and trust your instincts.
To see more of Philip Cheung’s work, go to www.philipcheungphoto.com.