Interview With Daniel Ceng

Interview With Joseph Lai
January 26, 2024
Interview with Bowen Shen from United States
January 26, 2024

Daniel Ceng

Daniel Ceng is an award-winning Asian photojournalist who documents global events and provides a lens to diverse perspectives. He has captured regional and international events, from protests to wars and pandemics, across multiple regions.

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

My name is Daniel Ceng, a multi-award-winning Asian photojournalist with a camera in hand and a heart for the world. At 19, I embarked on this journey in India, documenting protests against discriminatory laws. Two weeks after the Ukrainian invasion, at the age of 22, I found myself in the war zone, witnessing the apocalyptical impact on Ukrainian lives and the resilience of freedom-loving people.

From Delhi to Kyiv, my lens has captured regional and international events across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Earthquakes in Turkey, social conflicts in India, the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan, the Philippines, and beyond – I've been there, telling stories not just with images, but with empathy and understanding.

As a member of the Photojournalists’ Center of The Philippines (PCP) and the International Federation of Journalists, I believe in giving space to Asian photographers to showcase our perspectives and the stories we see through our lenses. My 60+ awards, including prestigious titles such as 2nd and 3rd place at the International Photography Awards, are a testament to this mission.

In essence, I am a citizen of the world, documenting its realities with a global perspective and hoping to inspire others to see the world through a different lens.

2Where did you study photography?

I'm an autodidact photojournalist, backed up by Ritchie Tongo, a Filipino news photographer, with his unwavering support, wisdom, tips, and collaboration.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
Sure, the photo I took during that social movement event in Hong Kong was rough around the edges, maybe even unusable by news release standards. But that's the thing about photojournalism – sometimes capturing the raw essence of a moment trumps technical perfection.
4What equipment do you use?
Canon R3 and Canon 1dx Mark II, which are Canon's flagship, reliable and high quality camera bodies.
5What do you hope to achieve?

For a long time, I have been championing the voices and values of the Asian photography community, especially photojournalism. My dream is to see the world of photography evolve into a truly global space where Asian, Western, and all other photographers from every corner of the globe can share their stories and visions on an equal footing.

6What inspires your unique storytelling?
The spark behind my unique storytelling? It's always the people I meet. The real connections we make ignite my creativity. My lens craves diversity, and that's because of my journey as a citizen of the world.
7What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?
Less is more. Keep things simple. Simplicity is king.
8Congratulations! As the winner of the New York Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
For me, diversifying and amplifying voices in photography has always been the North Star. It's especially exciting to imagine creating space for photographers who break the mold, both in their shooting styles and how they translate their reality and self-expression. And the New York Photography Awards, with their recognition of a game-changing category Winner of the Year in Editorial Photography under Photojournalism (Professional), is proof positive! Seeing different values and perspectives celebrated inspires me. It makes me believe that these Awards can truly empower photographers from all walks of life to tell their own visual stories, to shape our understanding of the world with their unique lens and values.
9Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 New York Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Shortly after turning 22, on March 9, 2022, I found myself not blowing out candles, but boarding a plane to France, then Poland, then Ukraine. My mission: is to penetrate the sanitized narratives of mainstream media and propaganda, to show the raw, unfiltered terror and truth of war. Witnessing the indomitable spirit of Ukrainians resisting authoritarianism and terrorism ignited a fire within me. I needed to capture their stories, their courage, their resilience in the face of unimaginable oppression. So I ventured to the front lines: Donbass, Kharkiv, Kherson, and countless other battlegrounds scarred by Russian attacks. My lens became a weapon, not against flesh and blood, but against the silencing of truth. Through it, I hoped to inspire the world to understand the power of unshakable bravery, and the unshakable need to stand tall in the face of darkness.

10Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.
Ritchie Tongo and Ng Han Guan.
11What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
If I could whisper wisdom into the ears of budding photographers today, it would be this: keep it simple, embrace the power of "less is more," and fuel your journey with patience and persistence. Trust me, these are the pearls of advice I hold dear, the ones that continue to guide my path.
12What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?

For me, the gold mine of advice I would shout at any budding photographer. Keep it real, keep it raw. Less is more, trust me. Patience and a dash of persistence are the secret sources to nailing your vision.

13What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

When it comes to achieving your goals, it's essential to keep things simple and minimize distractions. This means focusing on the essential tasks at hand, staying patient, and keeping your persistence strong. By following these principles, you'll be well on your way to success.

14How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
It is essential to always be receptive to new concepts, intriguing ideas, and constructive suggestions. It is important to respect knowledge and professionalism in all aspects of life.

Winning Entry

The Unconquered Ukrainians | 2023

Since March 2022, Ukrainian communities have been stagnated by the atrocities of the Russian military invading the country with deadly merciless missiles, artillery, and bullets. But Ukrainians were not …
(Read more at New York Photography Awards)

Daniel Ceng

Daniel Ceng is an award-winning Asian photojournalist who documents global events and provides a lens to diverse perspectives. He has captured regional and international events, from protests to wars and pandemics, across multiple regions.

Read more about this interview from Joseph Lai, the 2023 Silver Winner from the New York Photography Awards.