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Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Dan Chung has pioneered the use of DSLRs in filming and particularly in covering news. His passion for cinematic journalism – “making the real world look as good as cinema” – has taken him from Las Vegas to North Korea in the last year alone. Throughout his career, he has been at the forefront of new technology: as one of the first fully digital photographers in the UK, in the Nineties; later, as he taught himself how to shoot and edit video; and now through making and popularising DSLR video. Born in Britain in 1971, Dan gained a Geography degree before training as a press photographer at Sheffield college.
He began his career at a local newspaper and news agency but quickly joined Reuters, covering news and sport for them from 1996. In 2003, the Guardian’s editor approached him to join its staff. Since then he has covered a mix of features, domestic news and world news: from the war in Iraq to the Asian Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and the 2004 US elections. In 2007 he spent six weeks working with renowned British novelist Martin Amis, capturing intimate glimpses of the last days in office of then British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he travelled the world on a ‘farewell tour’.
His numerous awards include UK Photographer of the Year at the What the Papers Say awards (two years running) and the Picture Editors Guild Awards; and Nikon UK Press Photographer of the Year. He was also nominated for the Prix Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents. He moved to China for the Guardian in January 2008, at his request, believing that what happened there in the Olympic year would occupy much of the year’s news and shape world affairs for some time to come.
He has covered the unrest in Tibetan areas, the Olympic Games, the Sichuan earthquake and the riots in Urumqi. More than 4 million people have watched his DSLR timelapse video of the parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. A million people have watched his slow-motion film of October 2010’s military parade in North Korea, shot in slow motion with DSLRs using a Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly. Despite his love of stills photography, Dan was the first news shooter to embrace the potential of DSLR video, using a Nikon D90 to film for the Guardian in Tibet back in September 2008.
He was the first person to publish a film shot on a production 5DmkII (One Night in Beijing) and has pioneered the use of manual lenses on the 5DmkII. He believes in bringing cinematic production values and storytelling into real world shooting. He remains on staff for the Guardian but works for a range of clients including Oxfam, for whom he shot a TV/web campaign on the impact of climate change in Bangladesh, using the 5DmkII. Dan’s website dslrnewsshooter.com has established itself as a leading resource for news gatherers and other real world shooters, attracting contributions from BBC, Sky, Al-Jazeera and CNN camera people. He gives lectures and workshops internationally to both students and professionals and recently launched the DSLR Video on Assignment training DVD with the F-stop Academy. He lives in Beijing but continues to travel around the world – from Mongolia to Peru – to shoot DSLR video.