During his time as a high-school student in the years 1959-1961, Chang Chao-Tang joined the photography club to receive guidance by one of Taiwan’s most famous photographers of the time, Chen Sun-Chi. Young though he was, he quickly absorbed the methods of arranging an image, of taking pictures from a variety of angles. Sights on the way to school or work, farming villages, rivers or the sea shore, from children to animals, farmers and passersby to labourers… the fascination with the common life that would form the subject of his life’s work began to surface in these highschool-era works.
In this period, Chang Chao-Tang worked with the “Aires Automat 120”, a twin-lens reflex camera he borrowed from his brother. When he took pictures standing up, the finder would be aligned with his hip, and when crouching, the camera would be level with the ground. As a result, the majority of photographs have been taken from a low angle, looking up. Furthermore, as he was a shy youth, he preferred compositions that allowed him to avoid facing people from the front - children absorbed in play, unaware of the camera, or adults framed from afar. In these photos — sometimes pure and direct, other times reclusive and withdrawn — we are allowed a glimpse at the worldview of a precocious yet innocent youth.
The writer and artist Roan Ching-Yueh says,
“The outlines of Chang Chao-Tang’s originality are already visible in these precious early-era works, gifted with a sharp eye even amidst thralls of enthusiasm, tranquil but not cold, and never boring us with the over-familiar. We’re allowed a glimpse at the inherent way he viewed the world, at the love of all the things luring behind uncertainty and doubtfulness. This is the work of a spirit that came into being naturally, of cowardice and inexperience, bewilderment and expectation at the things to come, full of youth and strong with sensitivity.”