An Interview with Julius Pang

By July 26, 2019 No Comments
We recently caught up with APA 2016 winner and 2018 finalist Julius Pang. Check out the interview below to see Julius’ view on all things photography and a little more behind some of his APA entries.
• Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what made you pursue photography?
I’m a professional photographer from Perth and have been shooting full time for 8 years. I also run a travel business specialising in photography tours. In my photography business I cover a few genres for my clients, including events, headshots, corporate, and some commercial. In my travel business I run photography tours – we specialise in tours to Japan and will be soon introducing new countries.
I’ve always had an interest in photography since I was a teenager, with the main influence being reading National Geographic regularly throughout high school. Nat Geo also got me interested in travel, particularly to Asia, and I began to familiarise myself with the work of various Nat Geo shooters.
I began to pursue photography seriously during my first solo overseas trip as an adult to Japan in 2003. This was when I purchased my first digital camera – a Canon G3, which I still have to this day. Having the instant feedback with digital helped me improve my skills much quicker than shooting with film. The following year I bought my first DSLR – a D70 with kit lens, and also moved to Japan to work as an English teacher. I spent 3 years in Japan and improved my photography skills during my spare time there, especially during travel.
When I moved back to Perth in 2007, I began doing my first paid work in photography by assisting a full time photographer friend of mine. I was working as a web designer at the time, so I did photography in my spare time, and my early professional experience included a lot of nightclub shooting, small events, and second shooting at some weddings. During my paid leave, I would also get my travel fix and visited 20-odd countries, aiming to improve my work and getting to as high a standard as possible – maybe even Nat Geo worthy.
I decided to pursue photography full time from 2012 after shooting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 as one of the official photographers. In that event, I learnt and improved an enormous amount with my photography thanks to being able to shoot together and observe some of the other official photographers on our team. These guys were all experienced press photographers and had been at this for 20-30 years and were used to very high profile political events. They also didn’t hold back in terms of critiquing my work and technique, and it was a tough lesson at times. I came away from that very grateful for their criticism and sharing of their knowledge. From that, I decided I wanted a new challenge away from my web design career and started pursuing a photography career. Since then it’s been quite a ride and I’m still constantly learning on my photography journey.
• Your image, ‘The Cathedral’, makes great use of available light and architecture. What compelled you to take the image and what were your technical decisions?
Thank you. I love seeing and photographing really amazing architecture and engineering. When I first found out about this place a few years ago I knew I had to go there to see it with my own eyes and shoot it.
The difficult part about shooting this location is the lack of time and restricted access available as you can only visit this place as part of a 50min. special tour. By the time you get to the columns and are free to look around a bit, there’s really only 20min of shooting time left. The whole space is also dimly lit and therefore you need to use a tripod for best results.

With this final image, the main decision was getting the right composition which would be able to show the scale of the location. From a technical perspective, using a tripod to deal with longer exposures and the smaller aperture needed to get the right depth of field. Also doing bracketed exposures, although in the end I found I could get the result I needed from a single capture with some careful post processing.

• Your title, ‘The Cathedral’, suggests that you saw something else in this image. Is there a story behind this?

The feeling of walking through this space reminded me walking inside some of Europe’s grandest cathedrals with their enormous halls and columns. For any Lord of the Rings fans out there, these columns also reminded me of the scene when the Fellowship first enter the Great Realm and Dwarf City of Dwarrowdelf.

• Do you have any travel stories surrounding your image, ‘Baby Snow Monkey’? Was there a moment where you connected with your subject?

This image was shot at the famous Snow Monkey Park in Nagano where you’ll see Japanese macaques bathing in their own hot spring and going about being monkeys. The monkeys here are very used to humans so they will look at you or your camera but I think you won’t make a connection unless you have food of some sort or can pique their curiosity in other ways e.g. having a smartphone within their reach. I’ve found the older monkeys will tend to hold their gaze towards you longer than the babies. This shot was more about just getting the baby to look straight down the lens.

I did have a couple of baby monkeys take a keen interest in investigating my camera bag (no doubt looking for food), then attempting to chew off some of the foam leg wrap on my tripod – they quickly found out it wasn’t good eating. 🙂

• What, if any, were some of the challenges you encountered while capturing, ‘Baby Snow Monkey’?

The main challenge would have been just needing to wait for the right subject and moment while out in the cold. I think it was around -10 degrees that day and snowing with wind. The other challenge was keeping the lens clear – with the snow blowing around that day, some would still get on the lens even with the hood on so it was a hassle to keep retrieving a bit of dry cloth or tissue to clean the lens. Finally, having to keep a close eye on what the snow monkeys are doing and be ready with finger on the shutter to shoot. Unfortunately, as all wildlife photographers would know, the waiting often takes up the majority of the time!

• What do you like best about your winning landscape image from 2016?

For me the best part of this image is that it conveys what Tokyo means to me in a single capture. This dense, energetic, massive city full of millions of people and the center of Japan. Every time I visit Tokyo, I’ll always head out to an observation deck in the city somewhere and watch the view as it changes from sunset to night, and every time I look out in awe seeing the largest city in the world below me come to life as the night lights turn on.

• What does being a photographer mean to you?

Photography is without a doubt my major passion in life. When I’m not out shooting for work, I’ll still be taking photos while I’m away traveling in my free time. I’m a very visual person with a great love of art and design, and being a photographer fulfills my creative needs perfectly. As a more pragmatic reason, my photos act as a visual diary of my life and experiences.
Besides all that, photography is my career and I’m grateful that I enjoy my professional photography work and can deliver top quality imagery for my clients, and show my travel clients the beauty of Japan and how to photograph it better.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my photography work and I hope you can gain some inspiration from my images.
To find out more about Julius’ work head to – juliuspang.com and instagram.com/juliuspang.
To learn more about his photography tours head to –  incrediblephototours.com.