The beautifully true and the truly beautiful


A photograph of Wu Xuefei

“The biggest meaning of traveling for me is to be all there, wherever I am. When I am traveling, I try to be present and there, to soak in the moments, to see the culture and to watch the locals. The travel photos become alive because of the real life they record and reflect, and the details—every nook and corner explored, every alley holding potential and every smiling face—are to be savored.” This is what traveling means to Wu Xuefei, a Chinese young photographer. In a full 120 days, from September of 2014 to January of 2015, Wu took a journey and photographed all the way from China across Central Asia, the Middle East, Eurasia Bridge and East Europe, and finally made it to Warsaw, the capital of Poland. The photographs of local sceneries and customs reveal the charm of documentary photography with real life reportage.

Documentary photography is his ultimate direction.

Photography came to Wu in class when he was still a journalism student. With increasingly deep involvement with it, he began to realize that documentary photography might be the best way for him to see and recognize the world. Then he started to look into the fragmentary details of everyday life and capture them with his camera. His first photojournalism portfolio chooses the dorm matrons as his subjects, and he explained that “they treated me well and were the closest to me apart from my roommates. ” “When I gave them the photos as a present, they smiled back and made me feel that photography is actually something personal but quite meaningful to many people,” he added.

Polished by time, the photographs of real life will shine their distinctive beauty out of others.

Every moment in life is a beautiful story, and documentary photography reveals this beauty by presenting real life. According to Wu, the best documentary photos should be those recording the naturally happening scenes without disturbing the subjects. When Wu was out shooting on the streets, he would stay as low-key and unobtrusive as he could. “I am always trying to shoot the world as it is. The local people, their expressions, body language and everything that I captured are truly candid. I capture the present so those in the future can look back at the past. I guess this is not just about photography, but also a social responsibility.”

Street photography is a method, and an attitude.

Wu says he always feels the impulse to record what he finds to be truthful in an unfamiliar environment. Like a child making the unknown known, he is impelled to know it more intimately, to explore and understand, even to become it. Exploring with his eyes and documenting with his camera become his unique way to communicate with this city. Standing among the pulsating noise of Istanbul’s street, he freezes the moment through a single click of shutter to fill his camera with what is beautifully true and what is truly beautiful.

(All photographs by Wu Xuefei.)

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