Wednesday, 22 December 2010

In Case it Snows in Heaven

I am a bad blogger, there, I said it. I started this blog hoping to share my thoughts on various things photography. To be fair, I do start a lot of posts, just never get round to finishing them. I will finish the post I started about going to Singapore to visit the Photography Festival there but many of the posts will get deleted.

I have been hoping to have a week of very active blogging as I was supposed to be in Germany printing my book. My life has been completely taken over in the last month or so by this book. Chasing writers, picking fonts, trying to get the cyan out of a certain image, deciding on capitals or not........the minor details. Naively, I really did think the book would be easy. After all, all the images were print ready, I have had the match prints made for a while and I thought I had a pretty good idea how the book would be layout. But nothing prepared me for how much work is involved. A millions minor details that makes the book. Thankfully, I had a great designer who was a pleasure to work with.

I was suppose to be printing there last week but had to be delayed for a couple of reasons. So the dates were fixed for this week. Then the freaking snow came and all the flights are cancelled. The book is going to be printed tomorrow in Heidelberg but unfortunately, I will be in London. It needs to be printed now to have it ready for the up coming shows, so I will just have to trust the printers will do a good job. Someone from Kehrer will be there off course to supervise the printing but I really wish I could have been there, to learn, if nothing else. Guess it could be worse, I could have been stuck at Frankfurt Airport over Christmas.

So the only thing I can share with you is my test print.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

More shameless self promotion

I have 3 group shows opening this week, if you are in Toronto, London or Hong Kong, come check out one of the shows. I am back in Hong Kong now to continue on my project, 'The Queen, The Chairman and I', so hopefully see some of you there at the 1A Space.

'Right Here, Right Now', The Front Room, 96 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA, PV- 05/10/10, 6-8pm.

'Flash Forward Festival', 171 East Liberty Street, no. 118-120, Toronto. PV-06/10/10, 7-10pm.

'Simulated Alternate Realities', 1A Space, Unite 14, Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. PV 08/10/10, 7pm.

Friday, 1 October 2010


I mentioned a while back on the blog that I have reworked my project 22 steps to the sea. I am pleased to say that the project has been awarded the Troika Editions FORMAT Exposure Prize. So besides being part of Format Festival next year, 3 of the diptychs will be previewed next week at the Front Room Gallery in Clerkenwell, London, alongside the other 2 winners. The 3 diptychs will also be available exclusively on Troika Editions. Come along next Tuesday, 5th Oct, 6-8pm for the private view to check them out if you are free, otherwise, the show is up until the 14th of Nov.

22 Steps from the Sea #1 by photographer Kurt Tong

22 Steps from the Sea #7 by photographer Kurt Tong

22 Steps from the Sea #13 by photographer Kurt Tong

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Get out of my frame protesters, you are ruining my shot

I came across this picture in one of the national papers a while back, the caption read 'Anger: Muslim protesters burn a U.S. flag and portrait of Pastor Terry Jones outside the American embassy in London'

Really should have read, Anger: Muslim protesters miss the burning of a US flag and portrait of Paster Terry Jones but will be catching it on TV and read about it in the papers.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Gallery Talk

I am doing a gallery event on the 21st of September, details below.

Hope to see you there.

Kurt Tong in conversation with Bridget Coaker of Troika Editions

Date: Tuesday 21 September, 19:00

Entry: £5 (£3.50 members)

Booking: Please call 020 7738 5774 to book.

Kurt Tong will be in conversation about the exhibition with Bridget Coaker of Troika Editions. They will discuss Tong's work as an example of a piece of documentary photography which is also popular in the fine art market. Bridget Coaker is curator, picture editor and Director of Photography for the online gallery Troika Editions. In 2009 she was Director of the Hereford Photography Festival.

This exhibition showcases two recent projects from award-winning photographer Kurt Tong. In Case it Rains in Heaven is a series of photographs of items made out of joss paper to be burned as offerings for the dead, exploring Chinese traditions and beliefs regarding the afterlife and the impact caused by Westernisation. Memories, Dreams; Interrupted explores the concept of memories and the suggestion of scientists that they are stored like jpegs – broken down into small pieces and put away. When recalling an event, the brain automatically fills in any missing pieces, thus altering our memories.

Click here for more information about the exhibition.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Private View

I am exhibiting 2 recent projects in my first London Solo show. Until the 26th of September, 'In Case it Rains in Heaven' and 'Memories, Dreams; Interrupted' will be on show at Photofusion, 17A Electric Lane, London, SW9 8LA.

Private view will be tomorrow, Thursday 5th of August between 18:30-21:00. Come along if you are free.

I will also be doing a conversation with Bridget Coaker, curator, picture editor and director of photography for Troika Editions, on Tuesday, 21st of September from 19:00.

Hope to see some of you there tomorrow.

Monday, 12 July 2010

22 Clicks from the Sea

While there has been lots of media coverage about the BP oil leak, there has also been a lot of talks about the journalists/photographers being detained, questioned by both corporate security staff and government authorities.

Although, sensitivities around the oil refineries along the Texas Gulf coast has been around long before the leak. I set off on a project (22 Steps to the Sea) along the gulf coast 2 years ago and I was stopped on numerous occasions, by the police, the fire department, the Coast Guards, the Homeland Security, all citing national security for the reason that I am getting stopped and moved on, even though I was photographing on public areas. 11 incidents later, FBI alert was mentioned, I had enough and abandoned the project.

However, with all the recent talks, I have decided to revisit the project. Since all the images from the project were taken along public roads, I was curious to see if I could take the same pictures on Google Map. Of the 25 images I chose for my edit, 21 were found on Google Streetview and the remaining 4 were available on satellite view. (Images will be uploaded to my website soon.)

Maybe I should finish my original project and continue along the coastline in the comfort of my own home. (before they switch Google off too...)

Friday, 7 May 2010

How much time do you spend photographing?

I often get asked by friends who are not photographers, how much time do I spend photographing. If I am being honest, probably about 5% of my working week. April was a bit of a blur for me. After going to Houston for Fotofest, I have been busy following up with all the new contacts I have made there. I was then busy looking into book printers as I was hoping to produce a catalogue for my up-coming shows, then I got nominated for a couple of grants and have been busy writing proposals for them.

Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful with the grants, decided that I can't really afford the catalogue and nothing solid has materialized from Houston (yet). So I can't help but think that I have wasted a month of my time in Hong Kong. I haven't taken a picture in over 5 weeks!

On a positive note, I have decided to extend my stay in Hong Kong as there's no way I would be able to finish my current project within the next two months. Also several images from my latest project will be previewed in a show in Arles this July which is brilliant. Here's a few of the early images from the project.

©Kurt Tong

©Kurt Tong

©Kurt Tong

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Put down that camera

No, it's not me being told off for photographing in public, after all, I am not in England anymore where you could get arrested for photographing your own child in the park.

This is me telling all the budding photographers here to put down that damn camera. I have never realised how into photography people are in Hong Kong. The amount of gear on display in a single playground here probably cost more than my mortgage. Except the majority of them (don't get me wrong, there are some really good photographers here too) don't seem to know what to photograph with their Leica or their Canon Image stabilising lens. So they are snapping away like headless chickens.

Going to the playground with my girls could be so annoying sometimes. Parents are more keen to take the perfect photo of their child than to let them play and they mean business. They make Britney Spear's paparazzi look like friendly fluffy bunnies. Posing, reposing and reposing again with the v sign, just push that bloody swing and let them enjoy themselves. And they have no reservations about taking pictures of my kids. Not that I am a paranoid parent but could they at least ask for permission first.

I went to a really interesting exhibition last week where local artists took over an old police accommodations building. Many of the rooms were used for installations. The part I like best were inspired by traditional and independent businesses in Hong Kong. But I swear, I was the only person there without a camera. No one paid any attention to the art at all, only what picture they can take for themselves. Most of them packed enough for a National Geographical assignment. Maybe if they actually look at the art on display, they might get inspired and find something they want to photograph, rather than just blindly snapping away.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Queen Victoria, Chairman Mao and Me

This is the title of the new project that I am shooting in Hong Kong at the moment. This temporary relocation to Hong Kong has been on the cards for several years. I have wanted to spend at least six months here ever since my first daughter was born. We are doing it so that she would at least pick up some Cantonese before she starts school.

It was what I was going to do while I am here that was the hard part. I have had several years to think about this, which is never good. 'Great ideas' became 'what was I thinking ideas'. In the end, I decided that this six months will be a pure indulgence and I will do a project that I truly wanted to do, something that is close to my heart.

The project will be about Hong Kong and it's history, told only through my family history. It far more difficult to shoot than it sounds since the government and the developers here have little sentiment. Buildings get knocked down hastily with no desire to preserve any history. As I don't want to use too many old photographs in the project, which means I have set myself difficult challenges of visualising history with very little actual objects or places to photograph.

I have been here six weeks now and found out more about my ancestors than I have in the previous 32 years of my life. That's itself has been worth doing the project. I will be posting more entries from now on. I do have the perfect excuse for being lazy though as my laptop die on me a few weeks ago and I didn't fancy typing on my ipod.

To sign off, I wanted to share a picture of my Grandfather. It's the picture he sent to my grandmother via the matchmaker prior to their first meeting. He is the slick dude on the left, on the right was the most gormless guy he could find, whom he dragged along to the shoot in order to look better. I think Danny Devito would look good next to him.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hong Kong

It's has been a long time since my last post. I had planned on to write about all the fantastic work that I saw in Houston back in November, in fact several unfinished posts are sitting on my blogger's dashboard, gathering virtual dust. But this Christmas period has been unusually busy for me and I have also temporarily relocated to Hong Kong with my family. The packing pretty much took up most of January. I have several exciting projects planned which I will go into more details here soon.

In the mean time, if you happened to be in Wolverhampton, Farewell in labrador and People's Park are both on display at the Light House until the 26th of March.

If you are keen to catch up with my happenings, here's a link to my newsletter

Please check back soon as I will be posting about my new projects just as soon as I get my arse in gear and start taking some pictures.