We first discovered Art Chang through an incredible series of photos of the Union Street during a foggy sunrise: we were wowed by just how good the Union Street looked in his shots. After clicking through the rest of his portfolio, we realized that Art just has a knack for taking beautiful places and things and making them look better than you could have ever imagined. If you don’t believe us, check out his images of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco sunrises below.
Arthur carries the Union Street Messenger Bag in Smoke.
ONA: How did you get into photography?
AC: It all started in Santa Barbara, California, where I went to college. My good friend, Mike, invited me every few days to go exploring with him as he took photos. I loved the hikes, the fence jumping, and the amazing adventures away from school work. The friendships that I built around these adventures was the main reason I got into photography. It’s corny, but I feel a certain amount of comfort and happiness hanging out with photographers that I haven’t found in any other group of like-minded people.
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
AC: Whatever camera I have on me! Just kidding, that’s the worst answer to these questions I know. But honestly, the camera I shoot with is determined by what I’m photographing. For example, when shooting an event or wedding, I will use a Nikon D800e and D700 combined with a Nikon 85mm 1.4G and a Nikon 35mm 1.4G. If I’m not working and not doing a specific assignment, I will use a Sony RX1r. If I know I will be doing landscapes I will bring the D800e out to play. In all occasions I’m sure to bring my iPhone out for some mobile photography. In short, every time I’m go out to shoot, I have an idea of what I want to get and that helps me choose the right tools to bring with me. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve been completely surprised and regretted not bringing everything I left at home.My “go to” lens would be anything around a 35mm focal length, which best fits how I normally imagine the perspectives and stories the final images will have. It took me a long time to develop a sense of comfort and affinity towards that particular focal length, but I’ve found myself naturally drawn to it and the ranges of the depth of field of a prime lens gives me a lot to work with. I can get close to create more intimate photos, or pull back (run backwards without tripping) to get more contextual moments.
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? Follow Up: What is your dream project?
AC: Projects I find that drives my creativity the most involves traveling and portrait photography. Assignments of telling stories by capturing moments in photos, especially with intriguing and beautiful people in novel stimulating environments, really gets me going.My dream project would be to be able to accurately bring awareness to the struggles of certain communities around the world that need aid through photography. It’s a dream because I often find photography of someone else’s story as being a visual tour rather than a first person narrative. Getting really close to telling the story with my own pictures for a good cause is what I hope to one day achieve.In the meantime, a few more glittery projects are also dreamy. Continuously working on fully funded productions in various countries, focusing on human actors traveling lesser known tundra would be another dream. I’ve had a few opportunities already, but would love to continue on with more.
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer?
AC: The hardest thing about being a photographer for me is to balance my full-time occupation as a startup founder and software engineer with my passion for photography. Turning down projects because I don’t have the time is the worst.
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
AC: It’s terribly hard to answer this question. I would best describe the style of my photography as assignment driven, with the assignments focusing on moments that will tell the story that I’m working towards, either it be the story of a wedding, of a person’s travel, or a beautiful camera bag from ONA Bags.
ONA: In one sentence, what advice would you give to a photographer/videographer just starting out?
AC: Remember the difference between compositional skills and equipment skills, and use them to compliment each other rather than treating them as an excuse for the other.
ONA: How did you hear about us?
AC: Many photographers that I go on photo walks with have them. There were a lot of giveaways in some events I went to, and eventually there was enough talk that I decided to look into them. I’m always looking out for great products from inspiring people.
Thanks to Melissa Ta for taking the photos of Art.