A Pulitzer-Prize winning photo of a napalm attack in Vietnam, iridescent nature images, and an Orange County mud race: These are among the eclectic images on display this month at Alhambra's City Hall. This diverse body of work comes from members of the American Asian Photographic Exhibitor Association. Mostly composed of Chinese-Vietnamese immigrants, the 400-member organization is based in the Western San Gabriel Valley. Gia Trung, the group’s president, spoke with the the Alhambra Source about the group’s origins in a Chinatown photo shop, how it has grown internationally, and differences in capturing beauty between the United States and Asia.
How did the Asian American Photographic Exibitor Association begin?Thirty years ago, Lan-Sieu Lee, a famous photographer of Chinese heritage from Vietnam, immigrated to Los Angeles. He brought along his passion for photography and opened the first color photography studio in Chinatown two decades ago. The studio allowed local Chinese photographers, including me, to print pictures. Soon we became good friends with Lee and were impressed by his extraordinary experience and insights in the discipline. We met Lee frequently and enjoyed sharing the common interest of photography. In 2004, Lee had an idea: Why don’t we start an organized association to devote more quality time in photography? That’s how AAPSEA was officially born.Who are your members? Most of us are 60 years old or older and are Vietnamese of Chinese heritage. We also have members from Korea and the Philippines, and more and more new members from Mainland Chinese. Most members are residents of Alhambra, Monterey Park, and Temple City, and many are living abroad.What language do you use in the association?We mainly speak Mandarin, occasionally Cantonese. We use English when members of another language are present and sometimes when holding seminars. What are some of your activities? Basically, we collect photos from the members and act as a middleman to send the photos to national and international contests. We have won prizes such as the Gold Medal in Austria Super Circuit and the Best Club Gold Medal in Venice Italy International Photo Contest. There are many talented people doing incredible photography here, but they lack a means to show their artwork. That’s where we assist them in. Besides that, we hold photography seminars regularly and invite local and foreign artists in various fields to give speeches. AAPSEA organize three to seven exhibitions a year. Some are of our own works, some are those by photographers from other associations or countries. In some instances, we are invited to exhibit our photos. Our members travel domestically and internationally as groups to take photos together. We also schedule regular gatherings to have meals together and exchange photography news. Finally, we publish members’ works in a photographic book each year, which we give to friends to donate to libraries.What types of images do the members capture?There are many varieties: landscapes, people, activities and sports. Images with the beauty of the human body are the most common subject.Do members use film or digital?Now most of the members have switched to using digital camera. But we still use film for special effects.Do the members socialize outside of the photography realm?We do call and meet each other like any other friends, but we talk more about photography. However, I know there are other photography associations which have members singing karaoke together.Do you think there are differences between the photographic community here and the one in China?Yes. In China or Vietnam, there are abundance subjects for photography. A farmer or a rural scene can simply make good content. At here, it’s more difficult to find material to shot. However, photographers in the US have the advantage of having better resources. For instance, it is a lot more convenient to purchase the equipment here.Do you every get into trouble when taking pictures?Yeah, we sometimes ran into small troubles. But it’s getting better since now we offer classes teaching our members about the ethics and rules in photography, such as copyright and what can or cannot be shot or exhibit.Where do you print photos?Some members print them in Costco, others have their own printer. I have a 11’by 14’ printer of my own, for printing bigger photos for exhibition. Do you feel photography is becoming more popular or the opposite? Why?I feel photography is definitely gaining more popularity. One of the reasons could be the fact that the cost of digital photography is lower than that of film. Nowadays photography lovers who lack capital, such as students, are having more access to the field. Do you perceive any transformation on the new generation of photographers?Younger photographers tend to take visually aesthetic pictures, while older one might prefer pictures that embody stories or messages. Younger photographers also like to do more digital enhancement.What does the hobby of photography mean to the members?Elderly photographers are estatic when they capture a great photo. Some of my members have told me that they feel photography is even more fun than going to Las Vegas. It’s also a good way to stimulate one’s brain. Creativity is essential in photography. A lot of times, I find myself doing a lot of editing with Photoshop at night, for the desire to create great photos. I’ve heard this can prevent Parkinsons! In addition, AAPSEA has the social component too; members meet and exchange with people of the same interest.Interview has been translated from Mandarin, edited, and condensed. AAPSEA is holding an exhibition at Alhambra City Hall beginning in September. The assocaition welcomes all who are interested to visit. For more information, please contact Gia at [email protected] The association meets weekly in Temple City.
招受毒氣攻擊的越南小女孩，色彩斑斕的大自然， 橙縣的泥巴賽跑大賽: 這都是本月在阿罕布拉市政廳展出的部分攝影作品。 如此精挑細選的多洋化相片都是出自於美亞沙龍攝影協會（AAPEA）的社員之手。 AAPEA是一個主要由越南華裔組成的400人協會，其中不乏普利茲攝影獎的得主，協會總部在西聖蓋博谷。 社長鐘福嘉向社區新聞與論壇介紹了協會在中國城照相館的前身，美國和亞洲攝影師在捕捉美上的差異，以及協會如何在國際上發展 。
AAPEA的社員是誰？我们大多是 60歲及以上的越裔或华裔， 也有部分來自韓國、菲律賓，以及越來越多的中國大陸社員 。大部分社員住在阿罕布拉、蒙特利公園、或天普市，也有許多住在國外。
AAPEA舉辦那些活動? 大致上，我們從會員那裏收集照片，再像个中间人一样幫忙把它們投遞到各種國內或國際的攝影比賽。我們曾獲得奧地利的Super Circuit團體冠軍奬、意大利Venice International Photo Contest獎及美國PSA的團體冠軍獎等。這裏有許多富有才華、創作出色作品的人，但他們缺少一個展現的契機，而我們就是提供一個讓他們發光的渠道 。
此訪談經過編輯和壓縮。 AAPSEA將於9月在阿罕布拉市政廳舉行攝影展，歡迎所有有興趣的人前來欣賞。欲了解更多信息，請聯系社長鐘福嘉，[email protected] 。該協會每星期在天普市聚集一次。