Don Hong-Oai was a Chinese photographer who only gained popularity a few years before his death. His photos are described as Asian pictorialism, which constitute traditional Chinese elements similar to oriental paintings.
Don Hong-Oai was born in 1929 in one of the provinces of China. His parents died when he was at a very young age resulting to him being sent off to live in a Chinese community in Vietnam. When he was 7 years old, he became an apprentice in a portrait studio and this led him to learn all the foundations of photography. While working as an apprentice, he also got into various side jobs to earn money that he desperately needed. After a while, he was able to save enough money to purchase his very own camera.
In 1979, a war broke out in Vietnam and as a result, he fled the country and went to the United States. He didn’t speak the language but he lived in a Chinese community in San Francisco. While he was there, Don Hong-Oai built his own darkroom in order to continue processing his photographs and also to sell them to locals to make a living. Eventually, he was able to come up with enough money to return to China and take some photos of the country where he was originally from.
Don Hong-Oai studied under the aid of photography master, Long Chin-San. Long Chin-San had his own style of photography that focused on capturing landscapes that are similar to Chinese art done with paintbrushes and some ink. It’s what we call Asian pictorialism today. The elements that are included in this type of photography are typically birds, trees and landscapes.
After mastering his craft, Don Hong-Oai got an agent and that was when his work got attention from the general public. With the good feedback that he was getting for his photos, it was no surprise that he won hundreds of awards from critically acclaimed photography organizations and juries.
Here are some of Don Hong-Oai’s Asian pictorialism photos:
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