Through The Lens

Michael Ching

June 22, 2011, by Chelsea Coyle

I had the priviledge of interviewing Michael Ching recently. Michael is a Toronto based fashion/fine art photographer, who has travelled the world from Panama to Alaska, and Japan to New Zealand. Always working hard and hoping for his big break in the world of fashion photography, Michael's goal is plain and simple; work and shoot!

Markham (Toronto)

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    model: Courtney French, by Michael Ching
    makeup: Tami El-Sombati (Page One)

    How did you get started as a photographer and what's your background?
    I have known since I was in high school that I wanted to create images. I went to Humber College to study Photography. I loved every minute of it when I was at Humber! I like what I do so I didnít feel like I was in school at all.

    I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada with my family in 1992. During that time, I didn't know any English at all so I kept watching TV and listening to music. I guess part of me had become a visual person.

    I have an older brother and he is a Pastor. My family never understood why I wanted to be a photographer. They constantly asked me, "Why donít you go into banking or office works and get a steady job." I think itís our culture. For them this is not a job; itís more like a hobby. When I received two awards from Humber College (one for the best portfolio book!) they kind of understood. To this date, they still think I am still finding myself.

    How do you think fashion photography has changed in the last ten years?
    A LOT for sure. Especially digital! It has become the mainstream of the industry. What is real anymore is not actually real at all. I mean, look at any magazines on the newsstand.

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    N4E1 by Michael Ching
    creative direction: Steven Lee

    Which part of your body do you think is most involved when you are shooting?
    I think itís the energy during the shoot. I get so pumped up and I just let my creativity take its course.

    How do you think fashion explains the world?
    I think the world looking at fashion is a really glamorous/fabulous industry. In some part that is true because we all like to look at beautiful things in magazines. However, 99.9% of people donít look like that all of the time. I think we need to change that.

    Let me give you an example: I was in NYC for the Fall/Winter 2011 Fashion Week. In one show I attended, the models were all wearing fur and were young /skinny. When I looked at the people who are looking at the clothes (besides the editors and buyers) most of them were socialites and they were the ones who were buying the clothes. Shouldnít the designer send the models who are more age/physically appropriate examples to the consumers?

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    model: Sam Hathaway (Sutherland), by Michael Ching

    When you cast the models what do you look for?
    When I cast a model I usually look for something special in their eyes. If they are giving me everything in the photographs but their eyes are ďdead" the whole thing wouldnít work at all.

    If you had $1,000 to spend on something that was not photo equipment, what would you buy?
    If I had $1,000 dollars, I would buy a really nice dress for my Mom and a computer for my Dad. I think $1000 dollars can cover that right? As long as they are happy, I am happy.

    Please finish this sentence...."The key to creativity is..."
    That's a tough one! The key to creativity is to open your mind and just go with it as well as being open to any new possibility as well. You can always just try it and if it doesnít work Ė just try something else!

    What music sparks your creativity?
    To be honest with you, I love classical music. It just gives me peace of mind.

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    singer/songwriter: Meghan Forbes, by Michael Ching

    What is your favourite band? Movie? Book?
    My favourite band is still The Cranberries, even though they are no longer together. Their music is so timeless and it just usually gets stuck in my head. Especially the Song ďDreams". My favourite movies would be Forrest Gump and Billy Elliot because those two movies represent the idea that if you follow your heart/dreams and never give up no matter what life throws your way, you can achieve all you want in the end.

    Who has been your biggest influence in your photography work?
    This might sound funny but I would say the paintings of Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko. I just find that shapes and space are so important in my work (especially negative spaces) and that has become part of my style too.

    Our body can create so many different shapes (like for models that can move... twist). Designers use fabrics to create shapes on the model and makeup artist uses their makeup tools to create different colours/shapes on the model face.

    Any future projects lined up that you would like to share with our readers?
    Right now I am working on a special project with my friends in New York City for the next Fashion Week.

    I just want to say that I am still taking photos not videos. I know a lot of people are getting into doing video but I still like to actually see how a PRINT comes out... and hold it in my hands.

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    Sushi Room, by Michael Ching
    creative director: Marcus Rocks; makeup: Gloria R

    If you had to pick one last piece of advice for those of our readers who are looking to get into fashion and advertising photography, one thing that you consider has helped you the most and you would want to share with others, what would it be?
    Keep your dream alive and make it a reality. I am still working on mine as well... itís a never ending process :)


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