Robert Chang is a photographer and visual artist from Hong Kong. Having worked as a cameraman in the past, he has been involved with arts from a very early age. His portraits and street shots are dark, melancholy and raw, fragments of his life.
You are a multitalented artist, how did you get into arts?
I don’t know. I just like all kind of arts. I saw something that made me wanna paint and I went home and painted. Or I saw many pictures inside my head and I wanted to shoot them. I wanted them to exist outside of my head too. And I love watching films so I wanted to learned how to be a cameraman and I work on films too. I was not interested in school and my uncle got me work as a cameraman. When I was young there was always art in my environment because my mother loved art very much, even though she is not an artist. She always had beautiful paintings to decorate spaces. And my father and my uncle always used to sing in the yard but that was a bit more horrible art!
Where do you take your ideas from? What’s your inspiration?
From my head. From my imagination. I like many photographers and their work. Painters. Writers. I like folklore sometimes it inspires me and brings strange ideas into my head. And films too. The aura and the presence of a place itself is inspiring. I trust my gut when I have a feeling for a picture or a place. I take it. My photos are me.
You have a strong preference for black and white, why is that?
I like colour but I have a special love for black and white. It is very close to the real nature of photography. The black and white spectrum is limitless and endless. Also black and white keeps the basic thought and idea more real and rough, at least for me. A really good picture will look its best in black and white always. If it doesn’t it’s not an honest picture. Colour is beautiful and for some things it may work better but for my photos black and white keeps me undistracted and fast. I have learned to “see” in black and white sometimes. It also allows me to keep ugly colours off the photos.
What are your favourite cameras and why?
My favourite cameras are disposable cameras. Even the idea of them is so good. It is plastic trash designed to be thrown away, very basic, but it creates fantastic images and gives you great mobility. It can take very real and brutally honest pictures. I like that. When I manage I often reload them with black and white film rolls too. I also like polaroid and instant cameras. For their lo-fi roughness and because they are instant! I like all kind of other cameras. Pinholes. A Lubitel I haven’t used yet, but it looks very interesting everytime I see it and heavy Russian cameras and lenses have amazing results too.
How do your surroundings affect your work?
My surroundings affect my work very much. All my ideas are born from the things I see and from the things I think of. I hear something and I have an idea or maybe when I see something it can start a story inside me. But it’s the people around me that influence me the most! I am very lucky because I can discuss my ideas and art and something I like or hate. And do fun things or miserable things with them… Anything.
What’s your current project about?
Right now I am working on a personal zine like a scrapbook, with pictures I take and notes or small poems and sketches. I am also working on some material for an exhibition in spring, with some artists I love: Rokovoy and Callikrati Vuyuk. They are all very talented with a strong personal style and I’m very excited! I don’t know if I can say more about this yet. But I think it’s gonna be a really interesting and it has been a very inspiring idea.
Interview by Emma Elina Keira Jones