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Mike Tsang October 19, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in England.

Ed Maggs, Maggs Books London 2009

Mike Tsang (b. 1982, England) was born to Chinese-Mauritian parents who had emigrated to the UK during the great Commonwealth influx of the 1970’s. This influence of Asian-European-African cultures has shaped both his photography and life. Mike’s life passion for photography eluded him for 23 years and led him through a career in the bustling world of Finance before he began assisting in London to a variety of different photographers. Amazing experiences traveling through Asia led him to settle in Japan in 2007 to connect more with the East. He began freelancing in Tokyo after receiving his own commissions across Asia. In 2009 he spent time in Africa on humanitarian and development commissions, culminating in a portrait project  with the Dinka people of Sudan. His clients include BBC News Interactive, Tearfund, Cancer Research, WWF and a range of Japanese and Mauritian governmental and cultural agencies.

About the Photograph:

“Rare book dealers make fascinating portrait subjects as they are strong individualists, united only by a love of books and a determination to preserve their quite unique way of life.  The internet age has certainly created challenges for the trade as knowledge of the rarity and value of these books has become more disseminated amongst the public instead being confined to learned professionals.  Also the rise in high street rents, the fall in literary budgets, the competition from charity bookshops – these causes combined have led to the reduction in the number of independent book dealers in London by almost a third in the last decade alone.”

“I undertook this project to capture this great literary tradition before it is altered too much from these external forces.  The London book trade is by definition quite close and I gained access to a lot of the portrait subjects by purely word of mouth from a previous subject who supported the project.  As the project progressed, it became clear that the environments the book dealers inhabit were just as much the subject as the dealers themselves as they often had distinct characters of their own.  The man in the photograph is Ed Maggs, descendant of the original founders of Maggs Books, an institution in the London antiquarian book trade.  He was photographed in one of storage rooms holding books that need to be rebound and mended before going on sale to the public.  Thus these books are given a second life – what I felt was a fitting metaphor for the book trade as it embarks on a new existence within the digital age.”

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