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Photographer Hubert Kang travels the world shooting for Fairmont Hotels
Photography is a very rich visual language, according to industry leading photographer Hubert Kang. It allows the viewer to observe a frozen moment in time so there is space for quiet reflection and imagination. At the same time, it can be so powerful, emotional, and fascinating.

When a mind is engaged with a photograph, the imagination can go so far. It’s like reading a book. You aren’t fed with all the stories. Your mind needs to complete the picture, and that’s what gives photography the endless possibilities. 

Born in Taiwan and hailing from Canada, Kang has taken the country by storm. Whether shooting campaigns for Tourism Canada, Metropolis Mall, Globe and Mail or the Fairmont Royal York hotel, millions across the country have seen his work. He uses his images to tell stories, whether that is for a recognizable company or a portrait of a businessman. He always manages to captivate his audience with one single photograph.

“I like photography for the authenticity. I think there is beauty in imperfection and realness. The layer of realism to me makes it fascinating. I can lose myself in a photograph looking at it,” he said.

It is not just in Canada that Kang’s work is appreciated. He recently shot a project for Fairmont hotels in Dubai and Singapore. The shoot was a month long, shooting the two locations back to back. Despite all of his previous success throughout his esteemed career, Kang calls this the highlight in terms of the quality of images, the production involved, and the contribution to the client. 

“I was able to make some beautiful images that really speak to my strength as a documentary photograph working in the commercial world. The images were authentic, emotional, and compelling. It really jumps out of the mould of typical hospitality photography. I was very proud,” he said.

Kang’s images ended up spearheading Fairmont Hotels’ rebranding effort. It’s the foundation of all the images they produced from that point on. It’s useful in advertising globally and in the corporate image guideline for all their hotels around the world. It also established Kang’s long term working relationship with the company, who has been instrumental in Fairmont’s rebranding effort since 2014. He is Fairmont’s main photographer for all their branding needs. He has helped them establish their visual style, and his images are used to promote Fairmont’s 70+ hotels globally. 

The photographs Kang has produced for Fairmont have been used in all kinds of hotel print collaterals, including posters, pamphlets, menus, and advertising in magazines. They were also used online and in social media. In addition to producing these images that are consumer facing, Kang has also helped Fairmont produce internal corporate communication material, such as brand image guidelines and anthems.

“Fairmont is an iconic hotel chain in Canada. It’s history with the railway contribute to Canada greatly as a country. I was interested to work on this project because it is the premium hotel brand in Canada. It’s also known for its outstanding corporate responsibilities programs, especially in sustainability. I wanted to work with a top tier hospitality client who is best at what they do in both business and community. I was also attracted to the project because I got to have a lot of creative freedom and control in these shoots,” said Kang.

When coming up with ideas for the shoots, it was based on the type of people Fairmont wanted to market to. Based on research, they knew Fairmont’s clientele value authentic local experiences, so Kang came up with photo ideas revolved around that. 

Because this was a worldwide campaign, Kang and his team also needed to make sure the images looked global enough for all kinds of usages. They decided on Singapore because it’s very versatile visually. It can look like Japan, China, tropical islands, and India. They picked Dubai because the Middle Eastern look is unique, and they wouldn’t be able to replicate it anywhere else. 

When it came to production, the main challenge for Kang to overcome was shooting internationally in two different places. Having never shot in either country in the past, he decided to hire and work with local producers in each city. Kang also made the decision to keep the crew small and nimble. He only travelled with one assistant from Canada. The rest of the crew was hired locally. Not only did this help Kang’s understanding of the culture, but he found it helped him truly immerse himself in his work. 

Artistically, having digested the creative and understood the direction of the brand, Kang kept the images loose and lighthearted, but at the same time still maintaining the aspiration aspect of a high-end hotel. 

“I also enjoyed the challenge. It was a big organization puzzle to produce these shoots internationally. We definitely had some challenges along the way, but we pulled through and made it a really successful project for Fairmont. Creatively it was a very satisfying project. I had a lot of creative freedom and the shoot felt more like a travel documentary project than a rigid advertising shoot,” he said.

Kang was able to translate the vision to imagery perfectly. His ability to adapt and problem solve on the fly, in addition to the extensive pre-production work that he put in, meant that when it came to actually shooting the project, he was well prepared to face anything that came his way. The images were exactly what Fairmont needed for their new brand. The depth and breadth of Kang’s images have completely revitalized the brand.

“It makes me proud that the project was such a success for Fairmont. It’s the type of project that I knew would be difficult to pull off, but with hard work and dedication, this is something I am capable of. It was also a great feeling to know that I have been able to help one of the top hospitality brands in the world. With that experience, I can extend my services to other top brands,” he said.

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