Chan Bing Fai: Photographer Extraordinary



Chan Bing Fai took up photography more than 50 years ago as a hobby. He has written 3 books on photography. The first one entitled; “The Complete Photographer,” published in 1977 by Tropical Press. It is now out of print. The second one; “Lighting Up Your Photography” published by the author and it is being distributed by MPH at RM30.90. The third one entitled; “Photography’s Soft Power” has just been published on a limited digital printing edition. All the 3 books have one thing in common in that they do not deal with technical matters. He places great emphasis on the “what” and the “why” of photography and not on the “how.” In other words he stresses on the importance of a meaningful content in every picture rather than the means or technical procedures in obtaining it.


To obtain a meaningful content he relies on his person feelings and how the subject matter relates to life and living. To him to make a picture requires more than manual dexterity. Even in his first book published 30 years ago, he employed Zen’s Yin-Yang Philosophy to accomplish those great insights. So much so his photographs are poetic and at the same time they illustrate Zen’s concepts of formless essence and minimalism.


He has the uncanny ability of capturing the essence of the moment. To do that he empties out the daily concerns of life and allows himself to feel and vibrate in sympathy with the subject matter until he achieves “oneness” with it. “Oneness,” “emptiness”, “nothingness” and “Wu-Wei” which means non-interference are concepts which are entrenched in Zen’s Wisdom.


He regards every photo field-trip he takes as a personal invitation to a visual feast and every photo he takes is his personal visual statement to his response. Every picture he takes is so unique that it cannot be repeated. The only way to understand him is to read his books. They are written in a simple style with his thoughts clearly and precisely stated. They are so different from anything published in photography.


They are highly recommended to anyone who wish to soar above mediocrity. Anyone who takes up the camera can benefit greatly from his books irrespective of whether he is a beginner or otherwise. For a beginner he starts with the right foot on the right path without getting lost in the photo-maze. For others this is a good time to do a mid-flight correction to enable them to reach their destinations without getting lost in “space”.


His interest in photography goes unabated and has been quite adept in looking at old subjects in new ways. Because of this ability his work is creative and innovative. His work has an unusual freshness that often surprises. He was the first Malaysian to be awarded in 1969 the FRPS (Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, U.K.) for outstanding achievement in photography. In 1992 he was awarded the AIIPC (Associateship of India International Photographic Council) for dedicated services to Photography, and in 1993 he was honoured by the Persatuan Senifoto Petaling Jaya by conferring on him an Honorary Fellowship.


He was trained as a teacher and after eleven years he was promoted to become H.M. Then he moved out of teaching and became the chief medical illustrator in the Medical Faculty of UM. Later he joined UKM and became the technical director in educational technology. He retired in 1985 and then started to write books on photography. He is a popular speaker in photographic societies, forums and clubs. (For enquiries about these books please ring 03-79575908).