Culture in Colour - Leica Store Kuala Lumpur
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Ng Yoong Duong

Businessman. World Traveller. Photographer.

A photography enthusiast of many years, Yoong Doung combines his love of travelling with his passion for photography.

His holidays become photo trips, where the first things that he packs are his Leica M Series and SL cameras to document life on the streets, villages, towns and cities of Asia.

Here, we focus on his colourful, insightful, visual stories of Oriental culture, taking a sensitive look at scenes of traditional ways of life and modern living.

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Kuala Lumpur-based businessman and Leica aficionado Ng Yoong Duong captures Asia’s rich cultural mix.

Real life depicted in radiant colour with M and SL cameras.

 

As a successful entrepreneur, Yoong Duong imports and distributes medical equipment. Now, with his passion for photography, he successfully exports quality images internationally.

His photos – showing ordinary Asian scenes in extraordinary ways – are frequently showcased in LFI.Gallery, where images are evaluated by Leica Fotografie International’s professional editors and presented to the public. Many are Leica Master Shots – among the very best Leica photos in LFI.Gallery.

He’s modest about his achievements. “I’m just a hobbyist,” Yoong Duong says, shying away from the attention he is receiving for his professional-level shots.

Of his work documenting Asian human interest stories, he says: “I guess there are differences in points of view, of how the West views the East, and the stories the East wants to share with the West. I just tell the visual stories that I personally find interesting.”

Yoong Duong has clearly bridged the cultural divide. So much so that Leica Camera Malaysia hope to introduce his photography to a wider Malaysian audience. There have been discussions about hosting an exhibition of his photography, a fascinating fusion of reportage and travelogue – from villages to city streets, from Malaysia to as far afield as China, Indonesia, Mongolia and Myanmar and Tibet.

 

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Yoong Duong finds inspiration from reading books about the great names in the history of camerawork, such as the Magnum photographers.

“I try to understand how the famous photographers compose their shots, to see how they take a daily scene and make it an iconic image.”

Another source of inspiration is National Geographic and the work of Steve McCurry, the current Leica SL2 ambassador. This influence is evident in Yoong Duong’s documenting of Asian lives, with its rich, colourful, human interest shots, all reminiscent of McCurry’s style.

When he’s on the streets, Yoong Duong is inspired by the work of another Leica ambassador, Alan Schaller. He recalls the positive impact meeting such a celebrated photographer had on him.

“Alan Schaller, Leica M Monochrom ambassador, came to KL for a Modern Black and White Masterclass. I attended his talk and workshop. He was the main reason why I bought the M Monochrom (TYP 246) and the Summilux-M 24mm f/1.4 ASPH lens – to emulate his style.”

 

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That brings us to the most frequently asked question of a photographer: “What cameras and lenses do you use?”

“I’m a big fan of the M Series, of the rangefinder,” he says. “I have a M9, a M10 P Safari and a M246. My favourite M lenses are the Noctilux-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH and the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. I think they’re great focal lengths for reportage and street photography.  I’ve recently started to go a little wider, just like Alan Schaller, and use a Summilux-M 24mm.”

 

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It’s easy to see why photo editors are impressed with Yoong Duong’s portfolio.

He has the intuition to step in close to get an intimate portrait and the instinct to back away for a wider angle that better places the personality in the context of their current condition.

His shots with M Series cameras show him thinking and seeing how a scene develops.

 

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As much as Yoong Duong has photographed across Asia, he has only scratched the surface. It’s something he acknowledges.

“I had planned to travel a lot more this year for my photography. Unfortunately, that’s not possible because of Covid-19. Actually, I should be in Tibet right now. But, I had to cancel that trip. It’s a shame. I had been looking forward to it for one year. When I can travel again, I hope to be out there with my Leicas.”

There are so many visual stories still for him to tell. The exciting thing is we can all look forward to Yoong Duong’s next series of Asian images.

For photographers inspired by Yoong Duong’s images, there is still an opportunity to pick up your M or SL, find your own little corner of Asia, observe, compose your shot, and interact directly with your subject for an original photo.

 

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Written by Kieron Long