Interview with Wen Hua Chen

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Wen Hua Chen

Wen Hua Chen first began her journey in photography during her studies in Visual Communication and now has developed a fiery passion for underwater photography!

Interview With The 2021 MUSE Photography Awards Winner –Wen Hua Chen

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?
I began my journey into photography during my studies in Visual Communication at school. From 35mm film cameras to medium format Hasselblads and now digital cameras, I have always enjoyed capturing the world around me through the small viewfinder. Over the past decade, I have developed a deep passion for underwater photography and everything that exists beneath the surface.
2Where did you study photography?
I began my journey into photography during my studies in Visual Communication at school.
3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
I remember that my first photography subject was my family. It was the closest and most accessible subject at the time especially my own relatives.
4What equipment do you use?
As an underwater photographer, I use a 14mm and 16-35mm lens to capture large marine creatures along with a housing and dome port for my camera.
5What compliment inspired/touched you the most?
The greatest compliment I receive is when people view my work and describe it as indescribable as if they are experiencing the scene in person.
6What inspires your unique storytelling?
I have been shooting underwater photography for over a decade and I hope to use my images to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of these creatures and environments that we must cherish. I use my photography to tell stories and inspire action in others.
7What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?

Light and shadow.

Vitality of life.

Beauty of form.

8Congratulations! As the winner of the MUSE Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
Thank you to the judges for the recognition and to MUSE for organizing this competition and providing a platform to showcase these fragile yet beautiful creatures. I will continue to document and create in the hopes of bringing more attention and awareness to their existence.
9Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
Documenting the ecology and wildlife, particularly large marine mammals has become my primary focus as a photographer. As 70% of the world exists underwater, most people don't have the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures. I will continue to explore this theme and am planning to publish a photography collection in the future.
10How has winning an award developed your career?
I hope to have more opportunities to showcase my skills in underwater photography as a form of fine art, as well as my dedicated and focused approach to this craft.
11Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.

Ernie Brooks.

Paul Nicklen.

Ansel Adams.

12What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?

“Observe first, then shutter" means that before taking a photo, it's important to observe the subject and the surroundings first, rather than just snapping a picture without any consideration. By observing and analyzing the scene, the photographer can determine the best way to capture the subject and create a more meaningful and impactful image.

“Sharpen one's senses, or turn a blind eye" means that a photographer must be aware of their surroundings and actively engage with the environment rather than ignoring it. It's important to be aware of the subtle details and changes in the surroundings in order to capture the best possible image. Turning a blind eye or ignoring these details can result in missed opportunities and a lack of depth in the final photograph.

13What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?
For aspiring photographers, it's important to have a unique perspective, be observant, patient, have a strong sense of personal vision and be dedicated to creating their art. By developing a distinct style and being attentive to the world around them, photographers can create truly compelling and memorable images. It's essential to be persistent and tenacious, to push through challenges and continue to pursue one's creative vision, even in the face of adversity.
14What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
The key to success is to maintain one's original intentions, be patient and observant, and always keep an open mind. Occasionally, it's important to put down the camera and reflect on why you want to create, to first clarify your thoughts and intentions before taking action. By doing so, photographers can stay true to themselves, remain focused on their goals.
15How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
Reading more, using your brain, and not letting popular trends influence your perspective is important in photography. It's essential to observe with both your eyes and mind and to cultivate a critical and independent perspective that is not swayed by fads or trends. By doing so, photographers can develop a unique style and perspective that reflects their personal vision and values.
16Anything else you would like to add to the interview?

When it comes to eco-photography, especially underwater photography of large animals such as whales, it is crucial to approach these creatures in a friendly and non-disruptive manner. Unfortunately, due to people's growing interest and lack of understanding, many are causing disturbance to whales, particularly sperm whales, without proper approach or prohibitions against such behavior.

I believe it is essential to provide information on the proper and friendly ways to approach these creatures. Many people approach cetaceans illegally, causing them to dive hurriedly without taking a proper breath. During my visits to Sri Lanka in 2016 and 2018, I witnessed these situations, which was truly saddening.

Ultimately, I am passionate about documenting the interaction between people and the environment, particularly with sharks, which is also an area of interest for me. By promoting responsible and respectful interactions with these magnificent creatures, we can contribute to their conservation and protection for generations to come.

Winning Entry

Floating together | 2021


Wen Hua Chen

Wen Hua Chen first began her journey in photography during her studies in Visual Communication and now has developed a fiery passion for underwater photography!

Read more about this interview with Eetane Yong from Australia, the Gold Winner of the 2022 MUSE Photography Awards.