From the time he was a child, Kang has always been interested with the diversity in people. Born and raised in Taiwan and moving to Vancouver, Canada when he was 16, he had a multicultural background, and therefore always liked observing and learning about all different types of cultures, or just people from different walks of life. Photography is a key for Kang, as it allows him to have the opportunity to really get to know people in a short amount of time. Through the artform, he can express himself, especially in ways that aren’t tangible such as emotions and energy.
“Photography to me is such a useful universal language that allows me to communicate and understand people and myself,” he said.
Now, Kang is an internationally sought-after photographer. Whether he is working on a heartfelt documentary project, such as travelling to Uganda to capture images of the children playing baseball, showing how it positively impacts their lives, or a prolific commercial project, like travelling around the country for Canada Tourism, Kang loves what he does. His work has been seen by Canadians all over the country, whether in Vancouver when he shot several campaigns for the city’s largest mall, Metropolis at Metrotown, or in Toronto when he helped to rebrand Canada’s most iconic hotel, the Fairmont Royal York.
Kang has also spent the last ten years photographing for the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s largest newspapers. Kang works closely with Clare Vander Meersh, the photo editor at the newspaper, to shoot for the publication’s Report on Business magazine as well as its online counterpart. Vander Meersh is one of the most respected photo editors in Canada. She has won many National Magazine Awards and Advertising & Design Club of Canada Awards. She was the founder of Flash Forward competition, for which Kang was selected as one of the most notable emerging photographers in Canada when he first started out. She is also a respected juror and curator for many photo festivals around the world. Report on Business is one of Canada’s biggest business magazines.
Through the years, Kang has photographed a variety of editorial assignments across Canada. The subjects were high profile business people and stories. His ability to adapt and problem solve quickly in all kinds of different situations was very important for the success of these assignments. The result was that he produced compelling photo stories that attracted more readers for the magazine.
“I wanted to work with Globe and Mail because I love photographing real stories and meeting real people outside of my usual commercial photography practice. Globe and Mail is also the most reputable publication in Canada. I wanted to contribute to an organization that’s known for its integrity and aligns with my values. For an editorial photographer in Canada, I think it’s an honor to be part of this company and contribute to its publications,” said Kang.
Working on these editorial assignments for Report on Business was both challenging and rewarding for Kang. Editorial assignments are often difficult because typically there is little logistical support, as there would be for commercial projects. The subjects aren’t always willing participants of the photo stories. There is usually way less time as well. However, the rewarding thing for the photographer is that he got the opportunity to meet with all types of interesting people. His photography tells their stories and adds insight to articles. Having a smaller crew, oftentimes just himself, allows Kang to photograph in an intimate and honest way. He says it is like going back to his roots in photography, and while it is challenging, it is also inspiring and fulfilling.
“I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. To me, photography is like a key to situations that I would otherwise never have the chance to be in. It definitely fulfills my sense of curiosity and adventure. At the same time, it allows room for my artistic expression. I go into a situation, solve some problems and take some photos, and come out with a photo story that’s filtered through my point of view. I also really enjoyed working with the top photo editor in Canada. It was intellectual and inspired me to always be on top of my game,” he said.
Kang’s problem-solving skills, adaptability, and ability to build rapport with subjects are essential skills to ensure the success of the projects. When he works on these projects, he works closely with the photo editor to come up with ideas to best tell the story. He then takes those ideas and executes them at the shoot, regardless what type of situations that he might be in. A lot of the times, he says, it took a lot improvisation and problem solving on the fly under pressure, but he was always focused on the essence of the story so that no matter what solutions he came up with, he would always have the structures of a good story.
“It is humbling, inspiring, and fulfilling to know that I am part of a top publication. Regardless if the image is a cover, feature, or even just a small insert, I take pride in that I was the one tasked with telling someone’s real life story. It also inspires me to always work on my craft in photography, storytelling, or even just digesting information and solving problems. Knowing the projects were a success make me want to be part of the future success even more because these are very meaningful projects,” he concluded.
Photo by Peter Yang