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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

35mm and Lu Yuan Min

I went to Shanghai in 2003. In a local book store I found a book by photographer Lu Yuan Min called "Shanghainese 1990-2000" by Shanghai Literature & art Publishing House. Lu's black and white photography stood out, his big body of work in this little orange book showed a true insight of daily scenes of the so called "common people" in a city shaped from history and turmoil. I had in earlier years before that travelled extensively more or less all over China but never really seen how people lived beyond what you saw on the streets and countless of small gritty guest houses and "foreign hotels" which you sometimes shared with the locals when off the beaten track. I've always been a true believer in Mono-Chrome photography and Lu YanMin presented a way of how photography can transcend a seemingly dull and normal topic and scenes to something eye opening and beautiful. I have had his little photobook in my bookshelf ever since and always treasured it as one of my absolute favourites.

During the years I have seen that for me was real honest photography transform from an art or craft form to a pretty bland and overly produced fake limitless pixel awesomeness. I can only speak for myself and how I see the present photo scene and I can find some great stuff on various blogs and social networks but overall it's a rather dull endless row of stuff that seems to have not been thought through at all. I am to blame for this myself since I am as much as anyone else caught up in the craze, snapping off from the hip with no strings attached. I have come to suffered from something close to a photographic writers block for the last years. A freelance photographer's life and the ever tracking down, chasing and convincing stressed out and busy editors of jobs have just taken the fun and excitement out of photography. To keep it simple and strong has been overrun by stunning and perfect.  In a couple of weeks it has been 10 years since I picked up Lu's book ( it picked me up?) and it is finally sinking in that his way is the right way to pursue the art form that I have shaped my life around. I'm now in a situation where I can sit back a little and view from a new angle how to get this slowly sinking ship on the right keel again, and the path might very well be through a lesser known Chinese photographer and his work from his city and it's scenes. Lu's photography has a wide depth that attracts me and he used nothing but a 35mm prime lens to give a viewpoint of the human eye, how we see reality but often miss the individual universes surrounding our daily boring little lives. I bought the best 35mm prime lens I could afford, fixed it on my by now old workhorse and will set to work on a new personal project out of respect for what is for me real photography and of respect to a photographer that influenced me to take up from where I lost the eye in a critical moment.

"Lu Yuan Min's genius is that he ignores nothing."  

                                                            - Jiang Wei

1 comment:

Uncle Allan said...

Good to see you "home" again. I wish I could be there with you in the streets of Tokyo trying to find the right approach to great photography. But I am happy here in Berlin and I gotta say that it has been the best decision ever.
But it is good to see that you're finding the spark again. Or at least that's what it looks and sounds like.
Really hope that you will find your way out of your creative drought and come out stronger with new energy and ideas!

Hope to see you sooner than later brother