Paul Sunga, best known under the abbreviated moniker Paul S., was born and raised in Toronto, where he took a keen interest in photography as a teen. Since then, he’s blossomed into a full-blown international fashion phenom, snapping pics of celebrities and models along the way.
While it looks like glitz and glamour, however, Sunga has managed to imbue his work with a social conscience. Through his annual “Worth It” exhibit, for example, he raises funds for the charitable organization Foodlink. Giving back is just one way that Sunga uses his art as a conduit for engaging with humanity. As he tells us, “I know that photography is my platform. It’s my drive and passion for life. It’s the way I speak to the world.”
Why did you end up leaving Toronto for Hong Kong?
I moved to Hong Kong a few years ago with a dream of becoming a successful fashion photographer, shooting beautiful stories with memorable faces.This journey has been very exciting and challenging; I blew all my savings to rebuild this career and myself in the process. Every day is always a new challenge, but I’ve been very lucky that numerous opportunities have kept me sane.
When did you decide to add a charitable side to your work?
I love Hong Kong and last year I just felt so thankful for these opportunities that I wanted give back. I started my annual exhibit charity fundraiser entitled “Worth It.” Last year, we teamed up with Foodlink, a charity that is dedicated to fighting hunger, building self-sufficiency, and fostering nutritional wellness among those in need.
Are you purely a photographer or do you have other creative pursuits?
I create video content while on set. I’m always trying to challenge myself and produce new content. I visualize my ideas at night. I’m a marketing honours graduate with a certificate in project management. In a world where social media and being market savvy is a necessity, I think it’s good to have a balance of both a creative and analytic mind.
Why did you choose photography over other creative mediums?
I started with photography at the age of 16, experimenting in the darkroom and using Photoshop in the early days. I loved seeing the process and the production value. This medium was so fascinating to me that I wanted to know and do more.
What camera did you shoot with?
Canon 5d Mark IV
How does your gear help you be a better photographer?
You need to have a good eye. Know your lighting and your vision. It’s such a cliché but practice makes perfect. My first DSLR camera was a Canon Rebel XTi, and finally with all my hard work I could buy a Canon 5d Mark IV. I feel more confident using the Canon 5d Mark IV. I see it as having a Ferrari on the track, but to succeed you must know the ins and outs of the product.
If you could shoot any subject who would it be and why?
I love shooting with people. It brings me a lot joy. The environment and energy is just uncanny. At the end of every shoot, I see how happy and confident the subject is. For me that makes me feel like I’ve made a difference. Actually to be honest, every start of the year I set a goal to book a serious, big campaign. Universe, I’m counting on you!
If you could go anywhere to shoot where would it be and why?
In Hong Kong we’re lucky to have the best of both worlds. At night, we see the beautiful detailed coloured skylines filled with drive and ambition. And during the day, you can escape to a crystal-clear beach filled with a lot of peaceful blue gradients. All of this is attainable in my hands with my camera.
What projects do you have coming up?
This November I will be producing my second solo exhibition in partnership with Selvedge Grooming. The event will feature a new series of fashionable photos I shot with the participation of some top Hong Kong models.
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For more of Paul’s work: