He says: I always believed that photography is not the most important thing. Life is, even more so for the people we treasure.
Born in Taipei in 1978, Simon Chang graduated from Fu Jen University’s Dept of Communications Art with a degree in Fine Arts. In 2003, Simon moved to Prague and enrolled in the Masters of Still Photography Program at the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU). Through the use of documentary-style photography and in-depth articles, he focused his work on people marginalized by mainstream society.
Through his backpacking journeys, Simon shot many photos capturing the various facets of Europe. Like his street photography style “Between” series, Circus-themed “Circus” series, travelogue “Endless Journey” series, Gypsy-themed “Gilvanfa” – a Gypsy ghetto in Hungary series, a series about Border Hunters, “Hunters from Afar”, and a series about the largest mental institute in Central Europe, “They”, this series won him The Second TIVAC 365 Traditional Photography Award in 2006.
Having stayed in Europe for almost 10 years, Simon’s “Ashura” series won the first prize in this year’s PX3 Photo Competition, Professional Press Category, and he also won Second Prize for the album “Amei – R U WATCHING?” photography work, Advertising – Professional Category. He is the pride of Taiwan.
The “Prix de la Photographie, Paris” (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and to introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. It was touted by US Photography magazine to be the largest photo competition in Europe and it attracts submissions from amateur and professional photographers from hundreds of countries every year, including those from Taiwan.
The award-winning “Ashura” series is based on the famous Day of Ashura (Arabic：عاشوراء)，it is commemorated by Muslims worldwide but the Shi’a Muslims have the most intense way of remembering it. On this day, in order to punish themselves and to mourn, they will wear dark-colored clothes, parade on the streets, and beat themselves up. The traditional flagellation ritual using a sword or zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam, involving the use of a zanjeer (a chain with blades) is also performed. They use this method to express their remorse. Not only adults, even children are performing such acts to obtain Allah’s blessings.
In 2010, Simon relocated to Slovenia, and not long after, his baby, Sonja, was born in the Spring of 2011! Adding precious meaning to this journey. Published in 2011, Simon’s “MIDVA” photo book was well received. He focused his attention to documenting daily life. Observing the most mundane but attractive elements, and continues to collect different anecdotes in the journey of life.
Simon said: “I believe that everyone’s life journey is a movie”. After the birth of his daughter, he plans to document Sonja’s growth and their aging as parents, with 18 photo essays. This is to record down the constants and transformations during this period of time, with the project coming to an end on Sonja’s 18th birthday in 2028. Thereafter, the project will be handed over to her boyfriend!
*In Part 2, Simon will share his experiences in using Lomography cameras and his lomographs, and a cameo appearance by the cute Sonja!