Many people pursue photography while working in another field to pay the bills. But it’s extremely rare for these hobbyists to win prestigious awards against competitors from across the country.
Vancouver dentist George Ching-Yuen Lo, on the other hand, has won several prizes, including the Sony National Award for Canada for his photograph Fighting bald eagles.
Nearly eight years ago, he captured this image (above) at the Fraser Bald Eagle Festival along the Harrison River.
Fighting bald eagles is on the wall in his dental practice at 909 Davie Street in Vancouver. In October, Explorasian Festival posted more of his photos on its website.
Lo is also a pioneer in microscopic dentistry, which led him into photography.
Earlier in his career, he believed that he needed to learn more about hand-eye-brain coordination. Therefore, in the 1990s, he began taking evening lessons to improve his skills with a camera.
According to the Explorasian website, Lo bought his first digital SLR camera in 2007. He used a telephoto lens for the “Fighting bald eagles” photograph.
Lo family linked to Chinese history
Lo was born in Hong Kong and is well known within Vancouver’s Chinese community. But few Vancouver residents are aware of his intriguing family history.
His maternal grandfather, Huang Shao-hsiung, was a significant figure in 20th-century Chinese history. The son of a schoolteacher, Huang graduated from Baoding Military College in Hebei Province in 1916. Later, he co-founded what became known as the New Guangxi Clique.
In 1923, the founder of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, appointed Huang as commander-in-chief of the anti-rebel army in Guangxi, which is a mountainous region bordering Vietnam. As a member of the clique, he played a key role in this part of Southern China coming under the jurisdiction of the national government.
Huang was the civil governor of Guangxi from 1924 to 1929, and also became a state councillor in the national government.
UBC historian shone light on Huang’s activities
UBC history professor emerita Diana Lary devoted a great deal of attention to Huang in her 1974 book, Region and Nation: the Kwangsi Clique in Chinese politics, 1925 – 1937 (Cambridge University Press). She noted that the “most notable distinction” between Huang and his fellow Guangxi colleagues and more typical provincial warlords was their interest in modern ideas.
As a result, they were not merely local warlords but regional militarists who were responding to the collapse of the central state in China.
“Their horizons extended beyond the boundaries of Kwangsi,” Lary wrote. “Their birth, into educated if declining families, gave them some pretensions to higher values, originally to the universalist values of Confucianism, now to the concept of the nation; their education had introduced them to a new concept of the role of the soldier; and their experience outside the province had attracted them to the revolutionary ideas of the Kuomintang.”
The New Guangxi Clique taxed the opium trade and created the University of Guangxi.
From 1932 to 1934, Huang was China’s minister of the interior, followed by a two-year stint as chairman of the Zhejiang provincial government, and nine months as chairman of the Hubei provincial government. From 1937 to 1946, he was again chairman of the Zhejiang provincial government.
Another relative was the foreign minister
That’s not Lo’s only influential ancestor. His great uncle on his dad’s side, Lo Wen-ken (a.k.a. Lo Wen-kan and Luo Wengan), was China’s foreign minister under Zhang Zuolin’s government in 1928 and again in 1932 under Chiang Kai-shek.
In that position, Lo Wen-ken pleaded with western powers to intervene to fight Japan, which had taken over Manchuria and created a puppet state. Chiang replaced him as foreign minister that year and he later became minister of justice.
Lo Wen-ken studied law at Oxford University in the early 20th century, which was very rare for a person from China. During his career, he also held positions as minister of finance and president of the Supreme Court in Beijing.