Wong Campion

Wong Campion

Based
Yunnan province, China
Born
Shanxi province, China
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 1DX, 5D Mark III
“In 20 years of doing this job, I have never felt tired or bored.”

Beat

I typically cover breaking news and interesting folk festivals.

One Shot

. KUNMING, China. REUTERS/Wong Campion
U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, checks his mobile phone outside a hotel during his trip to Kunming.
“During a break, the ambassador sat down on a bench to get some rest. I realised that not many photographers had noticed this and I could tell that he was very tired looking at his mobile phone, too tired even to care about me shooting pictures of him from close range. A few days later, Locke announced his resignation. This picture, somehow different from any other available images of him, was published by many media in China and around the world.”

Profile

When I was in primary school, my brother brought home a camera from university. It was a luxury item in those days, so I wasn’t allowed to touch it even though I was curious.

Later, when I was 18, I worked as a coal miner in Shanxi province for about a year, and I used my salary to buy a Chinese-made camera.

I’ve never had systematic lessons or training, so I mainly study photography by looking at pictures others have taken and I try to absorb what is helpful to me.

My first assignment was to take photos of a man cut by a knife in a brawl. When I arrived, he was in the emergency room undergoing urgent treatment. Despite a huge wound in his left side, he didn’t seem to be in any pain and just kept talking with the nurse. Later, I leant that speaking distracted him from the pain.

Covering my first story made me realise that I love what I do with my whole heart. I love just getting to the spot and reporting with my camera, talking to people and hearing their stories — the good, the bad and the ugly parts. That is also why in 20 years of doing this job I have never felt tired or bored.

The Ludian earthquake in 2014 left the greatest mark on me. I was the first non-local photographer to arrive at Longtoushan Township, the area worst hit by the quake. Having taken photos after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, I was once again close to so many lost lives.

On the first day of covering the Ludian quake, I met 33-year-old Liu Jiali, whose wife and two kids were killed and buried in their own home. When his eldest daughter wiped the tears off his face, sorrow melted my heart. On hearing their story, I kept my distance and sat across from the family for nearly two hours during this heartbreaking moment.

I don’t think about the audience when I take pictures. Broadly, I think of those who are concerned about the topic and want to learn about what is happening.

Generally, I feel the same amount of excitement for every assignment because each time it’s something new.

I respect anyone who can produce nice images. I believe that anybody who can take photographs better than me should be my teacher, no matter how old or young they are.

Behind the Scenes

. Ludian, China
Wong Campion stands among rescue workers and takes pictures as a descending helicopter sends dust flying following an earthquake in Longtoushan township, Ludian county.