Wei Chih Wang
PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2022 – Non-Professional
First Place Winner in Press – Deep Soul
Wei Chih Wang is an underwater photographer and freediving instructor based in Green Island, Taiwan. He accomplished all of his components by holding his breath underwater while freediving. The goal of Wang’s distinctive design and vision is to combine underwater elements with people. He wants the audience to be able to experience the planet from a variety of angles and sense the bond between people and the natural world.
“I have been obsessed with holding a camera since I was a child, but I didn’t have the opportunity to take pictures before I went to university. The only opportunity I had was the point-and-shoot camera that my father bought for me on an elementary school field trip. Later, the camera function was built into mobile phones,” Wang says. “I always took pictures secretly, because I had no confidence. I am not willing to let everyone know that I am passionate about this, because I was once asked by people around me when I was taking pictures with my mobile phone, “Why do you take pictures like this? Photos like these are terrible,” he adds.
Wang’s friends around him always supported him when he first started free diving, therefore in 2018, when he became a freediving instructor, he made the decision to treat himself with a camera. He immediately began shooting pictures in front of everyone after that.
Over time, Wang came to understand that a photographer had to be patient and confident. A photographer needs to trust their own instincts and wait for the ideal opportunity. According to him, “art is very subjective; you must always believe in what you love.”
The fundamental concept of Wang’s winning proposal was freediving, a novel activity that may be unfamiliar to many. You must hold your breath after inhaling, remain as relaxed as you can, improve the skill and effectiveness of each action, and deepen your understanding of yourself with each dive as you practice freediving. It’s a sport where you compete against yourself.
The winning images display a range of freediving techniques, such as photography, exploration, mermaid, and leisure diving. Every scene in the pictures calls for more talent than people might think. All activities take place in the sea, where free divers are frequently influenced by the surrounding environment and their own flotilla. At the same time they must confront the sea, they must also face themselves.
Wang feels quite validated after earning the Px3 “Press Photographer of the Year” award. “I am a person with low confidence. I doubt myself for doing what I’m doing. I always tell myself that I should face reality and give up living on interest. Everyone always tells me that I did a good job, but I couldn’t gain recognition from it. That’s why I kept looking for opportunities to win a proof in more professional competitions.”
Wang claims that he hardly ever has trouble getting inspiration. “In the ever-changing sea, there is never a lack of inspiration. I always get better pictures outside of my plan. Maybe this is also an advantage in photography competitions, because everything is very rare and special. The only thing I have to do is improve my ability, because I only use one breath to take photos. If I don’t have enough ability, I will definitely not be able to catch up to my ideal moment. Of course, the ability to photograph follows this process of constantly waiting, constantly observing, and constantly taking pictures,” he says.
Wang has started photographing underwater since he first purchased his own camera in 2018. Nobody in his immediate vicinity is able to impart to him the knowledge that underwater visibility is much reduced and low light sources are used for underwater photography. For this reason, he spent a lot of time enhancing the images because he was initially confused by their quality. To become a free-diver photographer, he had to overcome this barrier.
“In 2018, when I started photography, someone said: “This person is not very good at photography, why is he spending so much money on a camera and such a good waterproof case?”
In 2019, I won the championship for one of the projects in the Taiwan Photography Competition for the first time. “It wasn’t difficult for him to take this photo, maybe he was lucky.”
In 2020, I started to participate in more competitions. “This game is very unpopular, what is there to be proud of?”
“Isn’t getting an honorable mention a consolation prize?”
“Photography is such a subjective thing, the competition does not rely on luck.”
“After participating in so many competitions, the number of people asking you to take pictures has not increased.”
Criticism is always in our lives; don’t mind it. We just keep doing what we love, because we will always improve, we will see more and more things, and we will always be able to prove it. Don’t miss out on the best things in your life because of those people,” Wang advises beginner photographers.
Since Wang is an underwater photographer, he wants to use his equipment to document marine life in different parts of the world and to uniquely interpret the relationship between humans and the environment. No matter how heartwarming or painful the image, Wang believes it is vital and excellent if it can highlight the issues nature is facing and encourage people to care about environmental conservation.