Leading Photojournalism Educator Killed in Nepal
November 2008

by DJ Clark

It is with immense sadness that we report the sudden death of Professor Yang Xiaoguang, Dean of Dalian College of Image Art and founder of the Photo MA program. Yang was killed in a car crash in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal on Oct. 7. Yang died in the way he lived, enjoying life to the fullest.

Yang was brought up during the Cultural Revolution in China during which time he was banished to the countryside. Returning to Dalian in the post-Mao era he took a job as a technician at Dalian Medical University where he was to work for the rest of his life. Learning English by himself, he took advantage of a scholarship to America in the early '80s where he first started to study photography, completing an MA in Visual Art at Columbia Pacific University. Returning to Dalian he started what was then only the second University Photography BA program in China and over the next 20 years grew it to be the most respected department in China and, quite possibly, the largest photography department in the world. He was a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley from 1988-1990 where he first developed an interest in documentary filmmaking – a passion that saw him travel the world and develop filmmaking into the University programs. In his life he published eight books and countless articles. He was hugely respected throughout the Chinese and international photography communities and leaves a large hole in global photographic education.

Though greatly respected for his achievements, however, Yang's utmost quality was his energetic, charismatic personality. He was a shining example of greatness in every respect: always positive, never too busy to deal with the smallest request from anyone, whatever their position, nationality or need and kind, exceptionally kind to everyone who knew him. He was never short of ideas and answers to the numerous problems that faced him. A true ambassador to China and to photography.

Yang was to have been the host for our first Platypus Workshop in China at Dalian University early next year.

We will all miss him enormously.

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© DJ Clark

DJ Clark is a documentary photographer and researcher working throughout the world. He specializes in issue-based subjects working in partnership with international development NGOs to highlight social, political and environmental issues through long-term photography projects. He has run photography workshops for the British Council, Asian Centre of Journalism, and World Press Photo. His Web site is: djclark.com.