Fast forward five years and Chan, now 20, is pursuing his dream of being a fashion photographer.
“I live in New York. Fashion is kind of hard to ignore,” said Chan, who recently enrolled at Parsons School of Design to study photography.
A big fan of magazines, he was initially drawn to the glossy magazine world ruled by the fashion photographer, but taking actual photography courses has expanded his horizons. Many of his photos are of otherwise mundane objects and places, but you’d never think it just by looking at them.
“The small things inspire me and I have to capture the beauty. Light inspires me,” said Chan. “The hardest part is trying to come up with a good idea behind a picture and trying to achieve that visually.”
Don’t write him off just yet because of his age. He may be young, but he has already been to New York Fashion Week, where he shot photos for his friend’s blog, Confessions of a Fashion Addict. He has also photographed a student fashion show and worked briefly as an assistant wedding photographer, but for now, he just wants to learn everything he can.
“Before I know the future, fashion photography, I want to study the history, the past,” said Chan.
Prior to transferring to Parsons, he attended two other universities without really knowing what he was interested in. He considered accounting or something business related because they seemed to be the most promising fields, but ultimately decided he valued his happiness more than a large paycheck.
Seeing beauty in things that most people wouldn’t, Chan carries his bulky camera around with him 90% of the time, just in case he happens upon a scene that stirs him and begs to be captured.
He’s only a freshman at Parsons, so he realizes the journey ahead of him is a long one, but he admits it doesn’t feel like work because he’s finally doing something he loves.
In the meantime, he’s just going to experience as much as he can and enjoy the ride.
“I want to communicate with the world instead of just creating pretty pictures,” said Chan. “With the right tools, anyone can create a pretty picture, but unless you effectively communicate something, it doesn’t really mean a thing.”
To see more of Chan’s photographs, check out
his photostream online.