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Boston Archives | Johnny Tang Photo
Christian Science Center, Boston MA

Why Your Background Matters, In Art and In Life

I recently returned from a trip to Taiwan and Hainan, where I was shooting work and visiting family. As I was searching for places to serve as the background in my photos, I also thought about how my search was symbolic of my trip as a whole. Choosing a good background is a photographic skill, which is why professional photographers often bring their own. A good background can complement the subject being photographed, while a bad one can be distracting. A photobomb for example, makes for a distracting background. As the whole point of the activity is to take attention …

Man dressed in a black T shirt with a championship belt on his shoulder, staring at himself in a white button-up with a different championship belt.

Conflictus – Shooting a Muay Thai Champion

Conflictus 2015   It’s been a tough year for me production wise, and I think much of this has probably been of my own doing. My insistence on shooting film and focusing solely on one project has stifled production and handicapped my creativity. Happily, in recent weeks, I have opened up to some new ideas and am now starting to finally make some new work. Specifically, I have been taking the skills I acquired from developing my self-portraiture, and I am applying them to making portraits of others. I’ve always believed that the use of my likeness in the World …

Popping Monsters

Popping Monster: Millions Guns   My buddy Dave (who regularly assists me as “Honorable Pusher of Buttons” on my World of One shoots), asked me recently if I’d be interested in turning him into a Popping Monster. While I am much less familiar with the intricacies of Popping than I am with Breaking, I was up for the challenge and excited to venture into new territory. Dave also insisted on making a behind the scenes video of the entire operation, which I’ve included here as well. Hope you guys enjoy! Sign up for my Secret Society and never miss a …

World of One: School of Cambridge

School of Cambridge (from the series World of One) 2013 Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives 24″ x 38 7/8″ inches | edition of 5   This was the most straightforward and yet most labor-intensive World of One image I have produced thus far. There are 91 frames collaged into School of Cambridge (112 before the edits), which is roughly 3 times the number of frames that have gone into any of the other works in this series. This was shot at MIT behind the Strata Center where they have this cool outdoor seating area. I’ve wanted to do a …

Kung Fu Master: Zhou Xuan Yun

Zhou Xuan Yun, Daoist Sword (from the series Kung Fu Masters)   Zhou Xuan Yun, Daoist Sword White (from the series Kung Fu Masters) Sifu Zhou Xuan Yun is a Master of Wudong-style (more commonly spelled Wu-Tang-style) martial arts. He grew up on Wudong Mountain, where he trained in Chinese martial arts since the early age of 10. At age 20, he left Wudong Mountain to wander as a monk for 4 years and to seek out a dialogue with other martial artists. In short, this guy (who resembles a bad guy from a Tony Jaa movie) has the classic …

World of One: Invictus

Invictus 2013 Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives 24″ x 43″ inches | edition of 5   “Being unconquerable lies with yourself: Being conquerable lies with your enemy.” – Sun Tzu’s the Art of War The next two pieces in the World of One, Invictus (Latin for “unconquerable”) being the first, will explore the idea of being alone in a crowd. While originally the idea was to only create one picture exploring themes of loneliness, the more I thought about it, the more my thoughts started to focus on the difference between being alone and wanting to be alone. For …

On Narcissus

Narcissus (from the series World of One) As the name implies, this piece was inspired by the story of Narcissus from Greek myth. In summation, Narcissus was a hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He then died of starvation, as he refused to take his eyes off himself. This is essentially meant to be a cautionary tale: Basically, don’t be too much of a douche. I feel as if we now live in a hyper-narcissistic society. Social media has enabled us all to live in our own digital “World of One”s. Whenever …

BBoy Monster: El Nino

BBoy Monster: El Nino, Vitruvian BBoy Happy new year everyone! Trying set this year off right, today I unveil my latest creation. Behold! The BBoy Monster: El Nino!!! If you’re a bboy, this guy needs no introduction. If you’re a bboy and you’ve never heard of him, then you’re doin’ it wrong! El Nino has been a dominating figure in the bboy scene for over a decade…which is ridiculous when you consider the fact that he’s barely old enough to drink! It’s pretty difficult to overstate his bboy credentials. At age 11 he teamed up with Kmel of the legendary …

World of One: Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek (from the series World of One) 2012 Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Chrome 24″ x 41 1/4″ inches | edition of 5   This is easily the most expensive photograph I have ever taken. Shot on 35mm Fujichrome color reversal film (which shoots positive, rather than negative images for those who are not in the know) at the Christian Science Center in Boston, with the assistance of my brother. I was originally hoping that the leaves on the trees would have more red in them by now, but I got spots of yellow here and there instead. …

World of One: Curious Boredom

2012 Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives 24″ x 40 1/4″ inches | edition of 5   After the success of “Yin Yang Whisper,” I started to think deeper about the direction I want to take this body of work. When I started making these all I was really concerned about was trying to arrange the figures in an interesting way. As of late however, I have been playing with some ideas about how the two sides interact, and using that relationship to imply a narrative. The next images in this series will explore the paradoxical relationship between contrasting emotions. …