Made it in Taiwan - international success
An international graduate from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) at Rochester has landed on his feet since flying home to Taiwan.
28-year-old Shengyuan Hsu, who completed an MA in Photography in 2008, has worked for several high-profile clients in his native country, and says it is all down to his education at UCA.
Ray, as he likes to be known, spent the last four months of 2010 capturing the Mayor of Taipei on the campaign trail – the candid, behind-the-scenes photographs ensured it was a successful re-election campaign – and, he has recently been snapped-up to do freelance work for GQ Taiwan.
"I found UCA to be a very inspiring place," explained Ray. "In Taiwan there aren't any photography courses in the country – the nearest I could find was visual design – so UCA was a great place to learn my craft.
"The course didn't just help me technically as a photographer, but it also gave me confidence about myself in so many ways. I wrote a full dissertation in a language that I could hardly speak a few years ago which I am really proud of myself for accomplishing. Now, I try not to fear anything and just trust in myself and my abilities.
"MA Photography also taught me how to become a photographic artist – something that I hadn't even considered before I flew to England, but it is now my greatest passion."
That passion was displayed through Ray's self-published book Strangers, which won third prize in the Prix de la Photographie Paris in 2008 and also earned him a book deal and notoriety back home in Taiwan.
While Strangers focuses on happiness his follow-up Crying Girls, which he is currently working on, will feature 100 women who are all in tears. "It's a fun project because I'm not just taking pictures of strangers who I see crying in the streets but also using friends and trying to find ways to make them cry," revealed Ray. "Before I went to UCA I just wanted to be a commercial photographer but now look at me."
Ray still enjoys his commercial work though and got a rare glimpse into the world of politics while documenting the mayor's re-election. "It was a real adventure," said Ray excitedly. "I got to attend events and meet people that I never thought I would ever see; I toured around the capital city for the first time, which coming from Tainan 200 miles away was really good; and, I also got to know one of Taiwan's most famous men really well, which I hope comes across in the photos."
His photos caught the eye of GQ Taiwan before the election was over and was promptly asked to shoot for the mens' magazine. "I'm really looking forward to it – we're just trying to work out dates that suit us both," he said. "GQ is one of the biggest magazines in the world so working will be amazing. Now, I hope to follow in the footsteps of my idol Annie Leibovitz and try to combine quality commercial photography with fine art works."
You can see more of Ray's work at: www.shengyuanhsu.com.
For more information contact:
David Reilly, Press Officer, UCA
T: 01252 892939