After Everest conquest, Stefen Chow scales heights of photography

Award-winning photographer Stefen Chow speaking at gaming  venue Livewire in Marina Bay Sands about how he decided to pursue photography as a career after he scaled Mount Everest in 2005.
Award-winning photographer Stefen Chow speaking at gaming venue Livewire in Marina Bay Sands about how he decided to pursue photography as a career after he scaled Mount Everest in 2005.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Climbing Mount Everest is an achievement in itself but it also turned into a life-changing event for photographer Stefen Chow.

The Singapore permanent resident told an audience here last night that he had been a keen amateur photographer during his days as an engineering student at the National University of Singapore in the early 2000s.

His hobby included taking photos while on mountaineering trips in places such as New Zealand.

But it was after he climbed Mount Everest in 2005 at the age of 25 that he decided to go professional.

"I felt a huge sense of achievement, but then I felt a vacuum and wondered, 'What next?'. I decided to focus all my energy on photography using the same mentality, 'How far can I climb?'", said Mr Chow, who won second prize for his portrait of Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei in the staged portraits (singles) category at last year's World Press Photo contest.

The photographer was speaking at gaming venue Livewire in Marina Bay Sands at an event organised by the Singapore Press Club, Newsplex Asia, a convergent training newsroom, Res Publica, which has organised the World Press Photo exhibition here, and Singapore Pools, in conjunction with World Press Photo Singapore.

Mr Chow's award-winning photograph is one of 154 works on show at the World Press Photo 2013 Singapore exhibition which is being held at the Raffles Hotel until March 30.

Mr Chow's journey as a photographer required plenty of dedication and perseverance. He started out as a freelance photographer for The New Paper before moving to New York and later to Beijing, where he lives with his wife and nine-month-old daughter.

He has worked for well-known publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, taking pictures of subjects ranging from cardamom pickers to Chinese billionaires.

As a parting note to the 52-strong audience last night, Mr Chow said: "It is such a privilege for me to be able to meet such a huge spectrum of humanity in my work. I used to be the guy sitting in the audience at talks like this one, falling asleep."

cherylw@sph.com.sg

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