Ying Ang


This month we are proud to present Ying Ang, an amazing artist who we have had the pleasure of working with! Ying Ang is a photographer, curator and educator based between Melbourne, Singapore and New York. She is a photographer of the social, personal and contemporary landscape. Her artist book Gold Coast won the New York Photo Festival and Encontros Da Imagem book prize for 2014, she was a finalist for Australian Photobook of the Year, the CREATE Award and the Guernsey Photography Festival Prize for 2015.

Ying recently was chief curator for the print exhibitions at the Obscura Festival of Photography and keynote speaker at the inaugural Photobook New Zealand, 2016. Ying is part of the MJR creative collective, where her time is devoted to working on curatorial projects with photo festivals, speaking engagements, producing publications and managing various projects within the wider creative community. We could keep going on forever about her achievements and her work but we will leave you to hear her own words through our recent Q&A with Ying Ang herself.

Hi Ying Ang! To start our Q&A can you use three words to describe yourself?

Anti-purist, maximalist, curious.

What is it about photography that took you away from your postgrad studies Political Science and background in Biotechnology and Communications?

Photography made sense of the way I interacted with the world. I felt justified in my observations and feeling like I was always seeing people from the other side of a piece of glass. Being a photographer became a second skin that fit more closely than anything else I had ever tried on.

With studies in political science how important is the political undercurrent in your work?

My interest in politics came from a humanitarian bent. I am still very much engaged in the way we function within a society and curious about the way we do things and how we could possibly do things better.

There is the adage that when you look at a photograph you are seeing the world from a photographer’s perspective. Do you find it difficult separating yourself from your images?

I often feel as if there is no separation at all. The better I get the making pictures, the more fluent I am with the visual language, the closer my photographs match to the world inside my head.

What kind of impact do you hope to have with your images?

I hope to move people – either cognitively or emotionally

What story has left the biggest imprint on you?

The story of Sabine by Jacob Aue Sobol is the photographic story that left it’s biggest imprint on me in the early stages of my discovery of photography, which is where the biggest leaps in change were made. He showed me that there was a way to make pictures about your world and your experience that was close to the bone, and that there was a way to put words to it too.

Single images can have a significant impact on a viewer, do you think more can be said in a series of work or in a single image?

I find the single image quite difficult to work with. I want my perception and understanding of the world to change through what I view. Often the complexity required for that to happen must be woven into a narrative that is longer in form than the single image. For me, it is the same as reading a single page of beautiful prose or reading an outstanding novel.

Curating images for the MJR Collective, can you share with us what draws you to an image? 

Something similar to a punch in the stomach. After the basic assessment of color, composition, balance, exposure… blah blah blah, I am interested in how the image feels in a way that transcends the rules. What is the atmosphere and what is compelling about the punctum? How fresh is it?

Shooting in both digital and film, when do you choose to engage with film photography? Where do you see film photography going in the future?

I think that film photography will always be around, if not increase in popularity as a throwback to an encompassing digital age. I choose my medium based on the aesthetics and the way the tool changes my subject’s behavior. Film cameras are often more charming and people feel less preyed upon when you ask to take their portrait with a rolleiflex as opposed to a Canon 5D.

Having published multiple photo-books and having taught photo-book master classes can you enlighten us on your process of selecting and sequencing images, use of accompanying text and book design?

Each element of book design must be taken in the context of the subject matter. This includes the selection of images and the way they are sequenced. An introduction to a particular book may call for a stop motion effect which could include 20 images that are very similar to each other in chronological order. There are an infinite number of decisions to be made, but an idea/concept must be pinned down first so that the book elements reflect, build upon and enhance what you are trying to communicate to your audience.

Your work is well published but you also put on individual exhibitions, which medium do you enjoy most?

I prefer the book form as it is transportable, lasts “forever” and has the ability to be viewed in complete quiet and isolation.

For the aspiring photographer can you tell us how you turned your passion photography into a full time occupation?

I hung out a lot with people that were doing what I did, but were much better than me.


Intro and Questions by Stella Nguyen

Edited by Georgia Quinn