biography

Ian Tong is a New York-based photographer originally from Hong Kong. With over 15 years in the industry, his experience encompasses a wide range of commissioned and personal photographic work. A series of personal projects currently keeps him busy, taking him to memorable locales such as Stockholm and Shanghai.

Tong’s personal work is concerned with environmental and societal issues that has been recognized regularly and featured in various competitions. His work has been selected for the prestigious American Photography annuals 27, 28 and 30. Also of particular note is his inclusion in the Aperture Foundation 2014 summer open exhibition.

Ian has a BA from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and a MFA degree from Pratt Institute, New York, NY.

a word from the artist

"When I was approached to photograph the homeless and their living conditions in Baltimore for a fundraising and community awareness project, I felt honored, but also a little apprehensive. I was excited to have the opportunity to do a socially conscious project like this; however, as I was unfamiliar about inner city Baltimore, I was uncertain about the challenges involved.

Through some research and helpful friends, I learned of a homeless encampment at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Franklin Street. Arriving in Baltimore, I drove over to the site and found a sizable collection of tents pitched in the clearing beneath the freeway. It had been a particularly cold winter, and a number of tents sat upon a field of snow.

I started photographing. A man on the roadside whom I later learned was named Lonnie was panhandling from drivers stopped at the traffic light. From across the distance, he called to me, curious about what I was doing. I crossed the street so we were close enough to speak. Far from being unfriendly, Lonnie had a charming and warm demeanor about him. What he wanted was to be acknowledged before being photographed. He let me know, to my surprise, that he had lived in this location in his tent for four years now.

These were eye-opening experiences for me, and in the subsequent days after meeting Lonnie, I found his friendliness and openness to be typical for most of the people I met. Each had their own story, but despite their situation they had a desire to be acknowledged and not to be perceived as invisible to society."

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