The Man Behind The Camera


Credit: Oskar Lee '18

Ed Hing is well known throughout campus, but many people don’t know the true story of the man behind the camera (or in the darkroom).

Hing has now been teaching the photography and film making courses at Williston for 20 years. “It feels good, I have never actually been in one place for this long,” said Hing. “If it weren’t good I wouldn’t have been here for that long. It doesn’t feel like twenty years. It has gone by very quickly.”

It can get boring for sometimes for teachers to repeatedly teach the same class, but Hing said, “I give the same assignments over the years and almost every time I give it somebody surprises me with something new. This always amazes me because it shows me new possibilities.”

He continued, “I like taking kids who think they can’t do anything artistic and show them that almost everybody can be creative. Anybody can take a picture. Click of a button.”

Hing’s long career, and his love for all things photography, dates back to the first day he picked up a camera.

“My family took a trip to Disneyland in California when I was 10 years old and my mom had a new camera that she didn’t know how to use,” Hing said. “Being the kid that I was, I started playing around with it. My mom loved to pose and it’s funny, but I really didn’t like taking photos of people. So I started taking weird pics from everything else and it just started from then on.”

Mr. Hing grew up across the river from New York City and considers himself to be a New Yorker. “I would say New York is home and has always been my favorite city” he said. “I used to take the bus into NYC when I was kid and would wander around for hours just taking photos.”

Hing attended high school at Willisto,  where his passion for photo carried on.  Before graduating in 1977, Hing realized that he could make a living doing photography, but his parents did not agree to the idea of letting him go to an art school because they wanted him to become a doctor.

Hing then went to Trinity College for four years graduating with BA in Studio Art. He went on to study at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, mainly because he “wanted to see what the West Coast was like. A different perspective and a different culture there all together.”

From there, Hing and his wife returned to the East, where he started his own commercial studio in New York City specializing in still life photography for advertising and design firms. During this time Hing created images for a range of clients such as Air France, Avon, AT&T, British Airways, Canon, Dunhill, Dr. Pepper, Mercedes, IBM, and Nikon.

Hing also went on to receive awards from Graphis, Communication Arts, and the Society of Publication Designers.

After about a decade, Hing returned to Williston, not only to build the photography program and lab, but for the sake of his daughter, Emma Hing.

“We left New York partially to keep her out of the big city and advertising, but what she is doing now is basically filming in New York advertising.” Hing said.

Emma graduated from Williston and went on to receive a BFA in film in TISCH NYU, even graduating a year early. It seems Emma has followed the path of Hing’s footsteps, as she is working as a first assistant camera crew living in New York City.

Hing is not only recognized on campus for being just a photography teacher but also a coach for the Varsity Skiing team. He expressed his enjoyment of this role, stating, “I get to be outside in the winter which is normally a complaint to people but I like coaching skiing and I like to do an activity which I enjoy. Playing in the snow? What’s there not to like?”

Mr. Hing’s sense of style is also noticed on campus.

He wears traditional Chinese outfits on some days, as well as turtlenecks with jeans and a pair of original Adidas Baseline sneakers. Hing said that he is “just keeping it fresh.”

He added, “My mom was a very fashionable person as well, and I know that I am different because I am an artsy person. Unlike today, when I was at Williston I was one of the very few Asian kids.”

The photo and filmmaking courses and the lab itself have had a profound impact on many students throughout their time at Williston.

Michael Zhang ’19 has already taken classes such as darkroom, digital, and filmmaking. “He is pretty chill but a very hard grader,” Michael said of Hing. “89 is the highest score we ever get. The projects are hard but they are really fun.”

A student who took his class last year, senior Nitish Raja, said that he had “never met a guy like him,” and that he “knows his stuff.”

“He showed us some of his old work in class one time and [it was] very good,” Nitish said. “I like how he has offered so many different types of photography here. He helped me find my passion for photo and this [will] impact me for the rest of my life.”

One of the biggest impacts that Hing has had on a student was Natalie Richard, a graduate from the class of 2017 and now a freshman studying photography at Syracuse University.

Natalie said, “Mr. Hing inspired me to apply to a school for photography, which I’m really glad I did. He was always really supportive and helped me figure out what I love about photography.”