CPBL: Lights, Camera, Action – An Interview with Gene Wang

Gene Wang is a sports photojournalist based in Taiwan. He currently spends a lot of time photographing CPBL games. He has kindly taken some time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions, and provide his own personal insight into the CPBL and the work that he does.

Tell me how did you get into sports photojournalism – at what point in life did you decide that this was something that you wanted to pursue?
I start my career as a tech journalist ten years ago in 2010, most of my work is to test all kinds of tech stuff, in 2015 I extend my career in to sports territory. At first I just wanted to enrich my content in the reviews.

What impact is the current COVID-19 pandemic having in terms of how you are able to work?
Beside being a journalist, I also run a small photo agency in Taiwan. Usually we have a lot of assignments from different company, but for now almost everything stop due to the COVID-19, but at least we have CPBL, SBL (basketball) and some other sports events here still playing.

I see that you provide images for Getty Sport. How did you build up your profile through your career to get to this point?
To be honest, that’s a surprise. In editorial news photo section, Getty takes it very serious and only have a very small amount of photographers to cover it, not like the creative contributor which everyone can apply for it.
And last year when Socceroos (National football team of Australia) came to Taiwan to play the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2, Getty Australia ask me to cover it, and then recommend me as a editorial contributor for Getty, since then I start to cover all kind of events (mainly in sport) for Getty.

What has been your favourite sporting event to cover and why?
I will say baseball, you won’t see the ending until the final out.

What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
The best part should be I can attend any kind of events in close range, but the worse part is most of the games are at the weekends, that means I can’t spend my time with my family.

What are some of the logistical issues you face when photographing at CPBL games?
The biggest problem I will face as a photographer not working for a big newspaper or agency, I will say the equipment.
In sports photography, we need high end cameras and lens so we can ensure the same good quality, but it cost like 10000 USD for a basic set, and another 10000 USD for the telephoto lens, like me I have three sets of kits and several super telephoto lens, I spent almost 70,000 USD on it, at least.

For fans new to CPBL, describe what the atmosphere is like at a game. How does this differ to the atmosphere of MLB games that you have worked at?
When you are watching a MLB game, you just buy a cup of beer, some peanuts and sit there until the game ends, but in CPBL we have cheerleading squad with lots of noise.

You had an assignment to work at Citi Field for a game between the Yankees and the Rays. What was this like? (How does an assignment for MLB differ to an assignment for the CPBL?)
A rare game, it should be play at Tampa, but because of the tornado in Tampa, they just relocate to Big Apple, that the first time for me. I think for the game part it is no different, you have to shoot the action of the player, or those player reporter ask for, but MLB have larger stadium, different kind of foods, and higher ticket fee.

Do you support a CPBL team and if so, what made you choose this team?

As a long time press member I like every team.

What would you say has been your hardest photography assignment and why?
It will be last year’s Ichiro’s retirement game in Tokyo (MLB Opening game in Tokyo), hundreds of press members all over the world came to Tokyo to cover it, you have to take a lot of photo and send them to the editor, heavy loading duty.

Do you have a favourite photo that you have taken at a sporting event? If so, can you tell me a little bit about the photo and why it means so much to you?

Lamigo Monkeys winning the Championship in 2015 (Photo Credit: Gene Wang)

My favorite is the one after the Lamigo Monkeys win the championship coming back from 1-3 to 4-3, so when the blue ribbon was thrown, you can see the action and motion of the player. This photo was also used on Lamigo’s wall before they became the Rakuten Monkeys.

What makes a good sports photo?
Capture the most motion moment of the game, let the picture speak for itself.

Finally, if people want to view your work, what’s the best way for them to do this?
Just view my work on Getty: https://www.gettyimages.com/search/photographer?family=editorial&photographer=Gene+Wang
Or my personal website: http://wanggene.com

Thanks to Gene for giving up his time to do this interview.
Gene Wang can be found on twitter: @gene1174

All photos credit Gene Wang.

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