Through the lens from Asia to Alhambra

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 g_trung@yahoo.com. 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是怎麽開始的?30年前,一名叫李蘭秀的越南華僑攝影師移民到了洛杉磯。抱著對攝影的熱誠,他於20年前在中國城開設了第一間華人彩色照相館,許多當地的華裔攝影愛好者,包括我,都聚集在那裏沖洗相片。我們很快地和李先生成為了朋友,並非常敬仰他在攝影上的經驗和眼光。我們經常見面分享對攝影的愛好。在2004年,李先生突然有個主意:為什麽我們不創建一個專註於攝影的社團呢?這就是AAPEA的誕生。

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。

協會理裡用甚麼語言溝通?基本上是普通話,有時說廣東話,但當不會講中文的成員在場或舉辦座談會時,我們用英語溝通。

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 。

除此之外,我們還定期舉辦攝影座談會, 邀請許多來自不同領域的藝術家演講。AAPSEA一年會舉辦3到4次的攝影展覽,有時是發表我們自己的作品,有時是展出其它攝影協會或來自國外的作品,還有的時候是我們被邀請展出。社員會組織一起到國內外旅遊並拍照片,我們還會定期聚餐並交換攝影的資訊。最後,我們每年把社員的作品集成冊出版,成品會送朋友或捐到圖書館。

社員喜歡捕捉什麽素材? 我們的攝影包含各種主題:山水,人物,活動或體育,人體美是最常見的的主題。

社員們使用膠卷還是數碼攝影?大部分社員已經轉向使用數碼相機,但我們仍然使用膠卷來進行特殊效果的處理。

社員會在攝影領域以外的場合交際嗎?我就像一般的朋友那樣,會見面、打電話給對方,只是主要還是圍繞在攝影上的交流,但我知道有些攝影協會會組織一起唱卡拉OK等活動。

您認為這裏和中國的攝影團體有什麽差異之間嗎?有,攝影題材在中國和越南比較豐富,普通的農村場景或農民都可以是不錯的攝影題材,但這裏相對更難找到合適的素材。然而,在美國的攝影師們擁有更好的資源優勢,舉例來說,這裏可以更方便地購買設備。

曾經因為拍照而遇到麻煩嗎?是的,我們以前會碰到小麻煩,但現正在改善。現在我們會教導社員攝影道德和規則,如版權問題、什麽可拍或不能拍、什麽可展覽或什麽不可展覽。

社員在哪裏打印照片?有些成員在Costco打印,還有人有自己的打印機。我自己有一個11”比 14”的打印機,用於打印將展覽的大照片。

您覺得攝影在這裏是越來越流行或相反?為什麽?我覺得攝影絕對在贏得更多的人氣。其中一個原因可能是數碼攝影的成本低於膠卷攝影,現金缺乏資本的攝影愛好者,如學生,有更多的方法接觸這個領域。

相對老一輩的攝影師,您認為新一代的攝影師有什麽轉變嗎?年輕的攝影師偏好視覺美的照片,而年齡較大的人可能更喜歡能體現故事或傳達訊息的圖片 ,年輕的攝影師也喜歡做更多的數碼後制。

對社員而言,攝影這個愛好代表什麽?當年長的攝影師捕捉到一個了不起的照片時,他們會特別開心。一些成員曾經告訴我,他們覺得攝影的樂趣甚至超越了去拉斯維加斯的樂趣。攝影也是一個很好的刺激大腦的方式。創意在攝影裏是很重要的,我發現很多時候我會被想創造好照片的強烈欲望驅使,在晚上不停地用Photoshop加強照片,聽說這還能防止帕金森癥呢!此外,AAPSEA還有社交的那一面,社員們可以和擁有相同興趣的人交流。

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,g_trung@yahoo.com 。該協會每星期在天普市聚集一次。

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