Zhu Lan Qing 朱岚清
STRANGERS IN A PICTURE. 镜头里的陌生人。
This is a very unusual interview. I’ve never met Lan Qing before – and yet I feel there is a connection. I’ve read about Lan Qing for the first time when I was in Italy last July – I bought my copy of Vogue Italia and realised it was all about China. Pure joy.
Among lot of stories of actors, fashion designer, musicians and more, Lan Qing’s one caught my attention. She is a photographer and with her work, she investigates the relationship you establish with your social media ‘friends’ – that exact time when they are no more strangers because part of your virtual network. Fascinating, right?
So I sent her an email – and patiently waited for her answer. That I’m now happy to share with you.
At what point did you know that photography was more than just a hobby for you?
I fell in love with taking pictures when I was in middle school, and I realized this would be my future right away. I could not do anything else or be anything else if not a photographer. I took photography as my major in university. Even if I was somehow getting closer to living my childhood dream, at the same time I was far away from it. I was struggling between the photography I had in mind and the one that would help pay my bills. I was confused and I had no idea about what kind of photographer I wanted to be. It took me time to find the true meaning of photography – it has to be about passion, not about work. On the other hand, ‘work’ and ‘interest’ mean different thing to different people, so I guess there is no univocal answer.
Has your photography style changed over the years?
Yes. Every time when there is new picture coming out, people would find some difference. I think it is because I have been working while studying, and exploring different fields of my interest at the same time. One’s style does not change suddenly, it is related to personal knowledge and experience – and it has been the same for me. But there is a whole world out there, and I’m ready to jump out and have a look. I’m sure this will also have an impact on my work.
Why do you think that it is important for people to ‘meet strangers’?
Well, actually I don’t think ‘ meeting strangers’ itself is very important. It is rather an unavoidable phenomenon in today’s society. This group of work is a dramatic and extreme expression of this phenomenon, compressing time and distance among people. I was curious to know how people would act when they face strangers is unusual situations. It might be very obscure, weird yet intimate at the same time.
How did you go from taking pictures, to creating handmade books?
I’ve always loved reading books and magazines. Even though I am very busy right now, I still try to make time. To be honest, I had no idea of how to set up such an exhibition when I started to make the first book. The only way I could think of presenting my works is to put all my photos in a book. It’s just a convenient way to fully express yourself. Since it is completely hand-made, I don’t have to worry about printing and have more time and energy to spend on the creative process. A book is fun and personal and it brings you back to your childhood.
Is there another photographer that inspires or influences your work?
There are many: Mary Ellen Mark, Bernard Faucon, Jeff Wall, Tomoko Yoneda, QingYe and HeZi among the others.
很多摄影师都会从不同的方面影响到我，比如Mary Ellen Mark , Bernard Faucon , Jeff Wall , 米田知子, 清野贺子等等。
What would you say your greatest achievement as a photographer would be?
I have just started. It is hard to say what is the greatest so far but I would love to answer your questions in 10 years.
What do you think is next for you and your photography career?
Currently I am learning how to follow a working schedule – it is hard for me. I am not good with deadlines – my priority has always been being creative and I have so many projects waiting. I hope to be able to turn one of them in a book someday.
Lan Qing was born in 1991 – and hers is a young voice that investigates themes that are extremely interesting to me: friendship, unfamiliarity, journey, exploration.
And while I look forward to meeting her for a coffee sometime in the future – she now lives in Xiamen – for now I’ll just make do with an afternoon spent listening to music and leafing through her pictures and books.
Lan Qing, giovane fotografa cinese, ha attirato la mia attenzione per la sua collezione di foto ispirate dal fatto che due persone estranee possono diventare ‘amiche’ grazie ai social media. Così le ho scritto per intervistarla – e lei e’ stata entusiasta all’idea. Non l’ho ancora mai incontrata di persona… ma chissà! In fondo il futuro e’ pieno di sorprese!
For all the pictures, special thanks to Zhu Lan Qing.
Translation by Jasmine Wang.