Mark Leong is a fifth-generation American Chinese whose family emigrated from Guangdong Province to California more than a hundred years ago. After graduating from the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University in 1988, he was awarded a George Peabody Gardner Traveling Fellowship to spend a year taking photographs in China.
In 1992, he returned to China as an artist-in-residence at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, sponsored by a fellowship from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation. He subsequently decided to make his long-term home in Beijing, where he has lived since, observing what changes and what remains the same in the world's most populous country.
Leong's photos have appeared in Time, Fortune, the New York Times, Business Week, the New Yorker, Stern, and National Geographic. He has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Fifty Crows International Fund for Documentary Photography. His book China Obscura won a special citation from the Overseas Press Club for photographic reporting in magazines and books in 2004.
Leong's photographs first appeared in National Geographic in "China's Fossil Marvels" in the August 2005 issue.