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Stefen CHOW

Based in Beijing, China

  • Summitted Mount Everest at 25
  • World Press Photo winning photographer and film maker
  • Inspirational father who solo travels with his toddler children
  • Co- Founded The Poverty Line, a global poverty project that was highlighted by the World Bank and exhibited internationally
  • Summitted Mount Everest at 25
  • World Press Photo winning photographer and film maker
  • Inspirational father who solo travels with his toddler children
  • Co- Founded The Poverty Line, a global poverty project that was highlighted by the World Bank and exhibited internationally

Stefen CHOW is a photographer, mountaineer and speaker.

In his relatively short and intense career so far, Stefen has worked for some of the biggest organisations in the world, including Apple, General Electric, United Technologies, Wall Street Journal and Geo Magazine. He has worked in more than 40 countries and has garnered numerous awards from the photography industry, including being awarded by the World Press Photo which is the Oscars of the international photography industry.

Stefen is also a Nikon ambassador and judge for their global annual contest. Stefen is also an experienced mountaineer, having being involved in more than 10 Himalayan expeditions including summiting Mount Everest at the age of 25. He is a member of the Explorers’ club.

In his free time, Stefen devotes his time to doing long term projects with a social conscience. Stefen is the co-founder of ‘The Poverty Line’, a global visual project that contexualises poverty. The World Bank uses the project as a reference and it has been profiled on BBC and Foreign Policy. He also serves as the photography director of ‘The Other Hundred’, a Hong Kong based social initiative on challenging stereotypes of the poor globally.

Stefen is an experienced speaker, having given more than 100 talks to organisations and institutions, including the APEC Women Leadership Summit, TED and University of Science Po in Paris. Stefen is a current nominee for World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader.

Stefen is fluent in both English and Mandarin. Stefen was born in Malaysia, raised in Singapore, and currently resides in Beijing.

 

SAGE Exclusive Speaker Stefen Chow, founder of The Poverty Line, a global poverty project that has been highlighted by the World Bank and exhibited internationally, presented his project and spoke at the United Nations ESCAP, at the UN Conference Center in Bangkok at the Committee on Social Development 5th Session. Chow and Lin, (his wife) spoke in front of delegates and government officials representing 30 countries

 

Watch the video here.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEFEN CHOW
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEFEN CHOW

When photographer Stefen Chow was growing up in Singapore, he couldn’t sit still at school.

“I was a very energetic child, and sitting in the classroom and listening to the teacher was not enough for me—I had a lot of energy to expend. I wanted to scream and jump and do everything on the playground,” he says.

Now that he is grown, with a wife and daughter, Chow wanted to pay homage to the spaces that influenced him so much as a child. And he wanted to bring the same sense of surprise and delight to his photographs that playgrounds can bring to a kid.

112 Whampoa Road
112 Whampoa Road
11 Holland Drive
11 Holland Drive

“As an adventurer, playgrounds played a huge part in my development,” he says. “As you grow up you realize that playgrounds becomes more invisible, and the things in front of you are what you can buy or enjoy. Playgrounds are a place where fun is simple and straightforward, and I wanted to showcase them in a way that makes people say, ‘Huh, I never thought about it in that way before.’”

In order to achieve that sense of wonder, Chow and his wife, Lin Hui-Yi, conceived the idea of The Play Project, which showcases a hundred of Singapore’s playgrounds from the air and locates them on a subway map of the city.

Adventure Playground in Tiong Bahru Park
Adventure Playground in Tiong Bahru Park
60 Marine Terrace
60 Marine Terrace

To make the images, Chow hired an aerial photography company called Avetics to fly drones over playgrounds in Singapore. He scouted locations from an online street directory, then visited more than 200 playgrounds and made more than 300 flights to get the hundred images that ended up on The Play Project’s website.

Avetics specializes in industrial and advertising photography, and for this project they customized a drone to carry Chow’s Nikon Coolpix A compact camera. An Avetics employee would pilot the drone, and Chow would either take the photos while looking at an LCD-type screen, or act as art director while another Avetics employee took the photos.

And even though the images appear to be empty still lifes, Chow says he was looking for moments, even in these seemingly static images. An astute viewer can spot those subtleties—as a car makes a turn around a curve or trains pass each other on opposite tracks.

Stagmont Park (785 Choa Chu Kang Drive)
Stagmont Park (785 Choa Chu Kang Drive)
Tembusu Park
Tembusu Park

According to Chow, there are more than a thousand playgrounds in Singapore, so this project wasn’t meant to be a complete survey. Instead, the project honors urban design, landscape architecture, and the pure aesthetics of the simple play space.

“My personal work has always been to get people to assume they know about something, and then realize they were wrong, or understand something deeper,” says Chow.

“What we discovered is that people in Singapore assumed that playgrounds have disappeared. But in fact they are still very alive and well—the children all know where they are, but as adults, you can’t see them.”

Stefen Chow is a landscape and portrait photographer based in Beijing. To see more of his work, visit his website, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This project was funded in part by SG50—a nationwide effort to celebrate Singapore’s 50th anniversary in 2015.

Originally by: Coburn Dukehart, Source: July 29, 2015, National Geographic

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Everest Presentations

Climbing near the death zone, Mount Everest ©Stefen Chow
Climbing near the death zone, Mount Everest
©Stefen Chow

 

Stefen’s presentations speak about two things: Setting goals with purpose and passion, and using communication as a way to bridge teams and create trust. He will draw from his experiences of climbing in the Himalayas and also being one of the most sought after photographers in Asia.

  • Climbing to the summit is only half the journey
    Many plan to exert all their energies and resources on reaching the top, but few realise that it is only half the journey. In mountaineering, a successful ascent is only considered when a climber has reached the top and descended safely, and a strong and resilient mindset is required to achieve both goals.

 

  • What happens after 10,000 steps on the mountain?
    Mountaineering is seen as a mysterious sport, but a major part of the activity consists of putting a foot in front of another. It can be seen as a very tedious and mundane activity that sees climbing days as long as 20 hours and expeditions lasting up to 3 months. Having a sense of purpose and combined with passion is paramount and necessary.

 

  • Effective communication leads to trust.
    Stefen has been in different expedition teams with varying experience levels, nationalities and even different goals. Being able to get everyone on the same page is one challenge. Effective communication needs to happen both from the bottom as well as the top. In mountaineering, sharing about your weakness and fears could well be a matter of life and death. Stefen will elaborate more on this using his lessons from the mountains.

 

Medical experiments, Himlung Himal ©Stefen Chow
Medical experiments, Himlung Himal
©Stefen Chow

 

  • Reaching the top of Everest at the age of 25 can be daunting.
    Stefen reached the top of Everest at a rather young age of 25, and he is one of the younger climbers from Asia to have done so. The average age of an Everest summiteer is 38. His personal story of then setting his sights on being of one Asia’s top photographers is not an easy task, nor was the road smooth sailing.

 

  • When being good is never enough.
    In today’s competitive market, talent and resources are more mobile and transparent than ever. Companies cannot just be good, as good is no longer enough. Stefen has worked with the biggest organisations, interacted personally with numerous CEOs to understand what keep them motivated on improving quarter after quarter, year after year.

 

  • Belief. It is a powerful trait.
    Stefen had the fortune of meeting with other Everest climbers, elite athletes, self-made billionaires, CEOs and child prodigies. One of his observations is that the one single common denominator among these people is belief. It really didn’t matter who or what the person is, success stories come from all walks of life. If there is a sense of belief, half the battle is won.

 

Stefen will use personal examples and award-winning photographs drawn from 15 years of climbing experience, along with 6 years of working in China with some of the top companies and CEOs to put forward his points in this engaging and inspiring talk with the audience.

Other Topics:

  • Passion creates Possibilities
  • Unconventional Asian Parenting
  • Breaking limits
  • Communication Lessons from Mount Everest
  • The Poverty Line
  • Photography as a Language
  • When Good is Never Enough
  • What do you do after you climb the highest mountain at 25?
  • My topics are largely inspirational, moving and feel good stories.