You'd never know by looking at his images, but 45-year-old Steve Chong has been taking pictures for less than 10 years. He was asked to build a website for his hometown, and used a point-and-shoot to take local images for the site. He was smitten. His story:
"Thus begun the journey of an inspiring, interesting, and philosophical quest for better photography. The process involved started from the inspiration, to the intense attention and concentration required before pressing the shutter, followed by the eager anticipation of the final print.
"I read extensively on anything to do with photography and art. After reading the series by Ansel Adams, my smoldering passion for photography was fueled further. His dedication for perfection in photography truly amazed and inspired me.
"I bought an entry-level Canon EOS/88 SLR camera and before long, I discovered that my needs had outgrown this faithful camera. After much research, and with due consideration of my budget, I finally upgraded my gear to Canon EOS/1V plus a few more lenses and accessories.
"After more than a year into experimental photography, I found a comfortable niche in conceptual and surrealistic photography. Creating an idea and turning and seeing it materialize is such an exciting process. It is like pointing the camera into the real world but shooting my subconscious.
"As far as conceptual photography is concerned, especially for those who demand instant feedback, a digital camera came in handy. With this in mind, I acquired a Sigma SD9 and a couple of lenses. It helped my work a great deal, and I became more productive and effective.
"I have always been impressed with the quality produced by medium-format cameras. Large film, excellent detail, sharp and amazing tonal range. After much consideration, I bought a Mamiya RZ Pro II with a fisheye, 90mm lens, and eventually a 250mm lens.
"At this time, I am concentrating on still-life photography. I find it fascinating where the photographer has to come out with a composition from the genesis of an idea. It is a challenge to both the photographer's creativity and technical skill.
"My motto: It is not what you see, but the way you see it."
Steve has earned international accolades from more than 15 countries, including Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, the USA, Singapore, Luxembourg and more. He has won more than 100 awards.
He obtained his associateship under visual art from the Royal Photographic Society in 2009.
Steve is also very fond of landscape photography. He has been photographing and documenting the magnificent terraced paddy fields of Yuan Yang, China for the past four years. The images and narrative have been compiled in his first book, "The Light & Mist of Yuan Yang".
Steve is also the co-author for two of the most widely read photography magazines in Malaysia, "Photo Creator" and "Advanced Images".
Steve doesn't have the greatest Internet connection in Malaysia (or wherever he is right now), so it is taking him a long time to go through all 199 images. However, he's working away, and as soon as he chooses his Final 50, I'll post them.
Meanwhile, the November "bokeh" contest has 72 entries.
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