Wednesday, January 1, 2014


What better way to kick-start the new year than by sharing this inspiring story of a young Malaysian who followed his dream against all odds. Today he is an internationally acclaimed celebrity photographer.

If the name Zung does not ring a bell, that's only because photography may not be among your interests. But amateur and professional shutterbugs alike hold his name in high respect and awe.

And what better testimonial than to have Donald Trump refer to him as 'the best photographer in the world'. Zung is also Tony Robbins' personal photographer and has been so since 2009, thanks to a helping hand from my daughter. But that's another story for another day.

Zung's journey from a virtual unknown to a high-flying much sought after lensman of worldwide acclaim needs to be told and shared. It is a story that will inspire our young people, our children and grandchildren, one that is made all the more poignant because he is one of us, born and bred here in Malaysia, a true son of the land.

Zung's story is one that will resonate with many of our youths, because he hails from a background that they are familiar with. The only difference perhaps is that while most youths facing the same circumstances would have given up, Zung never called it quits. He soldiered on till he achieved the recognition he was looking for.

Consider the challenges he faced:
  • he was born in a rural area, in the small fishing village of Sekinchan
  • his father was a fisherman, and his mother a housewife
  • he was Chinese-educated, and struggled with English, even to this day
  • he dropped out of college due to financial difficulties
  • he was a slow learner
  • he could not afford professional training
  • he was only 18 when he experienced grief from the loss of his elder sister
  • he struggled to earn a living in the early years
  • he lacked the right connections 
That he has succeeded despite all these obstacles speaks volumes of the kind of person he is - focused, passionate, determined, resilient and tough. 

Today Zung travels the world on assignment. He has photographed some of the world's most famous people, among them the Dalai Lama, Richard Branson and Andrea Bocelli. On the local front, he has taken portraits of royalty and of former prime ministers. One of his photos has even graced the cover of TIME magazine.

Despite his numerous accolades, Zung has remained humble and modest. He is driven not by the money he can make, but by a genuine love for his craft, and for the satisfaction that he gives his clients. His extensive portfolio covers a wide range of subjects, but his favourite remains weddings. That was how he started in the business - as a wedding photographer.

If Zung can do it, so can our young people - our children and grandchildren. Do share the story with them. They will be inspired and motivated never to give up on their dreams.

Here are some copies of photos from our family album taken by Zung. As you can see, he has captured the essence of the moment in these portraits.

My grandchildren Reiya and Max, photo taken at home in 2009
My daughter Belle, photo taken at the Datai, 2007
Me and Reiya in Langkawi, 2007

Zung has some advice for all of us:

Screen-grab from YouTube. (Text added)

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