Using Lenses to Record the Face of the Earth——An Interview with Zhao Conglin


With the series of The Face of the Earth, Zhao Conglin won the title of “Canon Top Ten Professional Photographers 2014”. Though she has won many awards, she humbly said: “I am still a student on the way of photography and there is still a long way to go.” She sincerely wished to share opinions with other photography lovers, learning and making progress together. A few days ago, one of our journalists interviewed with her, and she shared her photographing story with us.

Q: How long have you been engaged in photography?
A: I’ve loved beautiful pictures and beautiful scenery since I was a child. Under the influence of my mother, I beganphotographing very naturally. After graduation, I joined the army. During the army life, I was in charge of the propaganda work of varies conferences and events and started really contacting with photography. Till now, I have eight years of experience in photography. It is very lucky for me to be chosen as “Canon Top Ten Professional Photographers 2014”. My heartfelt thanks go to my teachers, families and friends for their support.
Q: Where did you take the series of The Face of the Earth?
A: The series were taken in Ali Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region. I love Tibet and have gone there for four times. I have a special feeling towards Ali.
Q: We can see that you used telephoto lenses to shoot the hard and soft lines of the earth and put an emphasis on the beauty of the lines, simple color and tonal uniformity. They are really fabulous compositions. How did you think of taking the series of photos?
A: It may be a coincidence. Each trip to Tibetan areas, I was touched by the scenery that was strange yet familiar to me. Then I cannot help to press the shutter to record it.

Q: Why do you name it The Face of the Earth?

A: I always think that pictures can convey energy and a passion for life. In nature, everything has life, face and emotion. During shooting Ali, I found erosion marks left on the ridge by long years of wind and rain formed systematical veins, of color and of texture and of impression. It seems that they are telling their own stories through the colors and lines. Therefore, “The Face of the Earth” are the most suitable words to describe the series of photos.

Q: In these photos, no living things can be seen but a vast expanse of land. I am wondering that if you have considered mountains and the earth as the primal force that gave birth to all the things in the nature.
A:Since Pangu separated the sky from the earth, the earth gave birth to everything. The gravels, by the nourishment of sunshine and rain, have an amazing change of vital signs inside. The mountain contains the source of life and continuously supplies life energy to the living things around it. It is not important when the sunshine, air and life came into being. It is the texture of the ridge revealing a very strong vitality that moves me.

Q: What are your themes or ideas in the photos?
A: Tracing back. My theme is to date back to the origin of life and to date back to the source of energy. It is good to have a view of the vast mountains, but it is even more shocking to have a closer look at the little gravels. Dating from the primitive mountains back to the little gravels, the long years of traces on the stones seem to be telling the joys and sorrows of the mountains.

Q: Do you have any experience to share with us?
A: Instead of experience, I would like to exchange opinions with others. It is a good way to make more practice, see more and listen more. I am very glad to share opinions with other photography lovers, learning and making progress together.

Q: You once said: “One shot, one image, a mark of the moment, a short journey of life; an experience of learning, a chance of growth, a passion, a kind of life. This is my comprehending in pursuit of my dream on the way of photography creation.” Could you please share with us your insights which you got during your composition?

A: In effect, photography is a part of my life, which records my state and growth. I think that only if one loves photographing, can one take photos with all his heart and capture excellent shots. Every time while shooting, I always carry a passion for life, a passion for photography to press the shutter, and record my joys and sorrows on my way of photography. Looking at my photos, first I’ll summarize the composition, exposure and field of depth and then I’ll appreciate the stories behind them. In short, I’ve learn much knowledge of living and doing things on the way of photography.

Q: We all know that photographers usually have their own unique vision. Does photography make any difference to your observation and cognition of the world?

A: I’ve taken many subjects of photos, including landscape, folk custom, documentary, etc. In the world of light and shadow, I try to seek the simplicity and retain wonderful moment to make it eternal. During my photo tour, I got acquainted with many photographers who had insisted on documentary photography. They have no desire for fame or fortune, but only devote themselves to capturing worthwhile subjects. I am quite moved and benefit a lot from them. I thought that photography was the source of my happiness before. But now I often think deeply about the responsibility of photographers. I love documentary photography. It makes me have a strong sense of responsibility and mission. It requires that we should adhere to humanitarian spirit and a guideline for goodness and explore the living condition of human beings with a strong will or even a spirit of dedication. In addition, we need to truly understand and respect our subjects without fiction, varnishing or exaggeration so that represent the true fact by snapshot. Through our lenses, we draw people’s attention and appeal to the conscience of society. Meanwhile, we record our unique culture to leave a valuable historical fortune for the offspring.

Q: Global Photography aims to provide a platform for photographers to show their talents and help them improve their photography. Do you have any expectation for us?
A: Since we love life, we fall in love with photography. I hope that every photography lover can take their cameras or mobile phones to capture the moments of life whenever and wherever possible. Finally, hope your site is going to be better and better. I’ll continue to pay attention to your site.

(All photographs by Zhao Conglin)

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