Jian Wang is an outstanding street photographer. Amazingly, he bought his DSLR and started photography after he discovered 1x. By studying the published images in the 1x gallery and being continuously inspired, he succeeded to reach a high quality level in his work. Jian considers 1x as his photography school, and wishes to be a top student at this school.” In my humble opinion he reached his goal. Read more about Jian and see by yourself!
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Jian.
I grew up in China. I live in Toronto, Canada. I have engineering degrees. My job is research/development of biomaterials.
I have three main hobbies: Tai Chi, ballroom dancing and photography. I practice the three things everyday. Other small hobbies are cooking and gardening.
What first attracted you to photography?
It was the news of the death of a Chinese photographer in 2009. I read through the photographer’s articles in his blog and checked out the photos under his name in a Chinese photography website. I kept returning to that photography website for years. Later on in 2012, there was a discussion about the foreground of landscape photography. In the discussion, someone mentioned another website: 1x.com. I visited 1x.com for the first time and was astonished and inspired by what I saw. Then, I decided to buy a DSLR camera.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)? What software do you use to process your images?
The camera I use now was on sale during Canada Day, 2012. It is a kit of Canon EOS Rebel T3i. It comes with two lens: EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II and EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II.
I have a camera bag, but I don’t use it. I just keep the camera and lens in my backpack, together with my lunch box. I use Photoshop to do the post-processing.
Why are you so drawn by Street Photography?
I think the main reason is that I enjoy walking.
I like to walk a couple of kilometers on my way back home after work. I may go for a hike in High Park or just walk around on the street, depending on the season and weather. I used to walk with empty hands. Now I walk with my camera. At first, I would take pictures of everything, just like other beginners do. Gradually, I started walking and taking pictures more on the streets instead of in the park.
Probably there is another reason for why I chose street photography. I have a pretty busy life routine, and I don’t like any new hobbies that would change my life routine too much. Street photography fit into my life easily. After 5 years of practice, I am glad to say that street photography has not changed my life at all. It only made it better.
Describe your overall photographic vision and tell us about the most important experiences that has influenced your art?
A high percentage of my photos are bird view, and that is because of the location of my job. I work in downtown Toronto, and I walk through Toronto City Hall square twice a day. There is a roof garden. I like to survey the square from the garden, watching the activities and shadows below. That is how most of my bird view photos were taken.
I pay a lot of attention on composition. Sometimes I even think composition is the most important part of a photo. At least it is true for some of my photos.
Lonely atmosphere exits in most of my photos. I think I am sensitive to the idea of loneliness. In my real life, I am not a lonely man. Deep in my heart, I probably am.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Technical perfection is not the most important in my case. Good enough should be fine.
Mood should be the most important. I normally pay attention to background / surroundings, not so much to people. Story (I mean a true story) is the icing on the cake for my photos. Having a person and an implied story in my photo would be great, but it’s usually not critical. Anyone is fine. It doesn’t matter if that is a man or woman, boy or girl.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
There is a well-known antique market in Beijing named Panjiayuan. It was a roadside market in early 1990s. There were arts, crafts, fake-antique and some antique that have real, treasured value but are buried deep among the rest. Many Chinese antique collectors believe that they started their career in Panjiayuan.
Toronto is my Panjiayuan for street photography.
The city is full of beautiful modern buildings, colorful activities, etc., which are just like the crafts in Panjiayuan. They are not what I want. What I want is something that make my photos original, special or even unique. What I am looking for is antique, not crafts. I wander around the streets everyday, feeling like an antique hunter, meandering through a roadside antique market.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Street Photography and how do you get started?
I was a beginner not very long ago. I was fortunate that I found 1x first and then began to learn photography. I spent quite a lot of time browsing photos on 1x. It was very helpful to me. In the past 5 years, I’ve looked at most (if not all) of the photos published on 1x.com.
The beauty of street photography is not so obvious. It takes time to understand why some photos are good and some others are not. It takes time to generate your own idea.
Extensive studies of other photographers’ works are crucial. That is my advice.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X is my photography school, and I wish to be the top student at this school.