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Color Blindness Didn't Stop Photographer From Being Successful in New York Market
It may have helped John Clang's craft

So influential is Clang in the New York fashion and design scene that when West asked for advice on how to furnish his new apartment, their landlord reportedly recommended that West check out Clang's classy pad. Clang ordered him to sack his interior designer and hire one from London. And West did just that.

But for all his high-living lifestyle, in person Clang is a down-to-earth guy, hardly the reticent or eccentric diva some have made him out to be.

Dressed in a nondescript grey T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, the 'New Yorker' looks more like he belongs in the gritty Bowery than on posh Madison Avenue.

Throughout the three-hour interview, he is easy-going, gentlemanly, flirtatious and forthcoming with stories.

With a still-distinct Singaporean accent, he tells you with childlike delight that he relies on his wife Elin so much that he never travels anywhere without her, lets her hold the purse strings and that he does not even know how to write a cheque.

He says 'bless you' when you sneeze, compliments you on your 'nice shoulders' and readily reveals that he takes on seven or eight commercial projects a year, earning US$100,000 to US$300,000 for each.

But one thing is for sure: He is cocky. He is not afraid to tell you how good he is at his craft and boasts that he once walked out on an editor of a Singapore arm of a foreign magazine because she disapproved of him shooting for a local fashion title.

He also takes credit for finding a wife for a close friend. In 2002, he photographed a pal, known as Beon, for Chinese fashion magazine Nu You.

'Beon is short, ugly and works as a cobbler,' says Clang, who hired Singaporean model Jessie Leong to pose opposite Beon as his girlfriend, making him look like 'a sexy stud'.

'I projected my own sexiness onto him, and showed how even an ugly man can be charming and make women want him. Not only has he since found a girlfriend, he also just got married last week to a Taiwanese university lecturer.'

Clang was born Ang Choon Leng. His father serves food at a hawker centre and his mother, now retired, worked in a restaurant as a waitress. His brother Joe, 32, is a primary school teacher. He got his moniker while serving national service, where his name badge read C L Ang.

People started to call him Clang and it stuck. It 'sounds German', he admits, and helped get him noticed in his early days in the Big Apple.

He knew he wanted to be a photographer when he was 15 and an above-average student in Anglican High School.

At 17, he enrolled in a fine art and photography course at Lasalle College of the Arts. To pay the monthly $350 fee, he worked as an odd-job assistant at a wedding studio.