Wang Gangfeng 王刚锋 is credited as being the first freelance photographer in China. In 1981 equipped with a second-hand camera and expired film, he set out to capture the everyday images of China that surrounded him. The scenes that he captured represent the daily ebbs and flows of life in China. The subjects of those first photos were the people who lived in his neighborhood. Wang would explore, catching street life, in only the way someone who lived and grew up in the neighborhood could. He was an insider looking in. His success and recognition would start with the publication of his work in the People’s Daily.
As he continued to sell his work and receive private commissions he was able to establish his Gang of One photography studio and thrive in this new environment. Over the next decade his work began to gain international attention. His work became recognized for its ability to document the diversity of the human experience in China. The prestigious Musee de l’Elysee in Switzerland selected 18 of his photos for their permanent collection. Photo Life magazine described him as one of the top 25 photographers. And of particular note, was having his photo selected out of 12 000 other entries to win the Ballantine’s First International Photography Award.