ichard Fungs wife used to constantly tell him, You
can do better. Shes still his best critic, but now shes
proud of his accomplishments and even has a few favorites.
The Fungs moved to Portland two years ago for the quality of life;
the natural surroundings, landscapes and character were added attractions.
And when Richard, a San Francisco native, isnt working his
day job, he eats, sleeps and breathes photography.
Richard Fung's photographic images are eclectic visions he's been
keeping in mind for a long time.
"I try and search out my photographs," he said. "Sometimes,
when I'm hiking or on vacation, I'll see a picture in my head that
reminds me of a place from my past. I love to photograph anything
old, such as dilapidated buildings and structures."
Richard views photography as a way to form indelible impressions
and reflective emotions. Bringing the viewfinder up to his eye,
he briefly calculates exposure setting and composition, but the
moment also has to create an emotional response.
"It must evoke a feeling that I'm able to share with my viewers
as a reflection of my own personal interpretation," he said.
"It takes an enormous amount of practice and time to create
a satisfying photograph. I go through a meditative process with
my subjects before snapping the shutter. I've learned to be patient
and was inspired a few years ago to photograph blue herons and great
white egrets because they display so much patience and quiet beauty."
Each morning when Richard wakes up, he's thinking about what to
shoot next, what camera to use, which photo he's taken that needs
improving and what energy he can keep within to stay inspired.
"Last year we bought a small cottage on the Washington Long
Beach Peninsula, and it's becoming my favorite location to shoot,"
he said. "I think that in one of my former lives, I must have
been a fisherman because I love to photograph trawlers, lighthouses,
beaches and the ocean."
Photography sustains Richard's creative energy and reconnects him
with his childhood.
Before coming to Oregon, he spent three years roaming the streets
of San Francisco, Chinatown and Golden Gate Park, searching for
memories in the buildings and faces of the people he photographed.
"My photo 'Commodore Stockton' is an impression I felt as
a lost child in a surreal setting before my family moved to another
town," he said.
"I tried to capture the feeling with a cheap plastic Diana
camera and plastic lens. This camera helps to create an ethereal
effect, but you never know what to expect, as it also gives unwanted
light leaks because of the plastic toy construction.
"Many photographers use the Diana as an art tool," he
said. "I would not necessarily call myself a gear-head, but
I do use all types of equipment ranging from 35mm to 4x5 large format."
Richard is always trying new methods to bring about a different
vision or to stimulate feelings; his latest is a diffusion method
in the darkroom.
"I have even tried Polaroid manipulation and pinhole photography,"
he said. "But for the most part, I've stayed with my plastic
Diana camera for a similar result."
Richard primarily uses color-print film, but also shoots black
and white, sometimes hand-coloring his prints to create effects.
"I dont develop my own film, but I enlarge and print
all my photographs at U-Develop in Portland. And since Im
somewhat of a perfectionist, I matte and frame all my own work for
Two photographers Richard feels have influenced his work are Edward
Steichen and Walker Evans.
"I love their work," he said. "Especially the monochromatic
color and soft focus impressions used by Steichen, and Evans
SX-70 Polaroid photos of buildings and signs. I think their work
has helped me develop my own approach to similar subjects."
Richard shows and sells his work whenever and wherever possible.
His photos have been displayed at NE Portland's Buffalo Gardens,
the University of California, Berkeley Art Studio and the city of
Gresham Visual Art Gallery.
"The Carnegie Center in Oregon City has asked me to display
a one-person show for the month of June," he said. "I'm
calling the exhibit 'Eclectic Visions, Past and Present'."
As a child, Richard attempted to capture the beauty of nature through
finger painting and crayola sketches.
His art début came at age nine, when he made a kite out
of pink butcher paper, painted a blue and gold King Arthurs
crest on it and won an award.
Richard embraced photography when he was very young and was most
influenced by his grandfather.
"He was what I would term a closet photographer one
who never really took it seriously enough to pursue as a career,
but more than an amateur," he said. "My grandfather taught
me patience, perseverance and discipline.
"He once dressed us kids in traditional Chinese outfits and
made us stand in front of hot flood lamps for hours while he painstakingly
took 4x5 photos using an old press camera. I became more fascinated
with the mechanical dials, lenses and operation of the camera than
with the aesthetics of his photographs. Nonetheless, he paved my
Richard's mother dabbled in oil painting and his father acquired
an art degree from the University of California-Berkeley at the
age of 78.
Except for a few photography classes at the University of California,
Richard has had no formal art education. Instead, he's learned from
reading how-to books and by using his first love a Petri
"I got the camera when I was 17 and carried it everywhere
I went and photographed everything I saw," he said. "I
even became a little enterprising by taking photos of people at
dinner gatherings and then selling the glossies for $1.50 apiece.
Of course, this was back in the '50s."
Drawn back in
Recently, Richard ran across a 42-year-old, 35mm-Kodachrome slide
that he took of San Mateo High School in California, when it had
snowed two inches. The slide was used for the cover of his high
"I became the school photographer and used the camera as a
way to communicate with my fellow classmates," he said.
Shortly after leaving college for military service, Richard packed
the Petri away and didn't look through that viewfinder again for
almost 28 years.
"I attribute my reconnection to photography to an early morning
when I was standing beside a very picturesque rushing brook in Big
Sur, California," he said.
"It was a crisp spring morning with the sun backlighting the
leaves and bugs dancing to the rhythm of pulsating water. I wanted
to capture that image forever in my mind and was drawn back into
Richard's ultimate goal is to work with young people, to help them
display their creativity.