Photographer of the Month: Xin Li

Wunderschöne Märchenwelten.
© Xin Li

Heilige Scheiße, wir schreiben heute tatsächlich den 1. Dezember. Es ist allerhöchste Zeit, um sich kopfüber in den Weihnachtstrubel zu stürzen. 24 Tage noch, bis wir mit Familie und Freunden unter dem Christbaum sitzen, Geschenke austauschen und Kekse futtern, bis uns schlecht ist. Draußen ist das Wetter seit Tagen eine durchgängige, deprimierend graue Suppe und die Laune entsprechend im Keller. Dass man aber auch an diesen Tagen wunderschöne Bilder knipsen kann, beweist uns Xin Li, eine 19 Jahre alte und sehr talentierte Nachwuchsfotografin aus Bergen in Norwegen. Da, wo die Tage im Winter so kurz sind, dass man sie kaum zu Gesicht bekommt und die Sonne sich höchstens für einige Stunden blicken lässt, holt sie sich Inspiration für ihre Bilder. Wunderschöne, märchenhafte Welten entstehen - alleine beim Betrachten der Bilder hat man das Gefühl, mitten in die Szenerie hineingezogen zu werden. 


Und weil ein Stückchen von dem Kuchen abhaben wollten, haben wir uns ein großartiges Bild von ihr erbettelt und das junge Talent direkt zum Interview gebeten. Was sie uns über Fotografie, ihre Vorbilder und den Wunsch, nie mehr abwaschen zu müssen, erzählt hat, könnt ihr hier direkt selber nachlesen.





When and why did you start photographing?

I picked up a camera at a young age. My dad always used to carry around a camera when I was a kid to document me growing up, and I remember thinking that I want to do that too. But it wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I began to take photography more seriously. It became so much more to me than just a hobby. With photography I could document my surroundings. I could create and construct a visual picture of what was in my mind. I could twist and bend reality as much as I wanted to. It's such a large scale of creative freedom. I am my own architect through my lens.


Which was your very first camera?

Apart from a lot (and I mean a lot) of disposable cameras and my mother's point-and-shoot, my first camera was a Canon 450D with a standard kit lens.


Which was the coolest/best/most inspiring shooting you ever had?

I don't think I can pick one specific shoot. Each shoot is different, but it's always super inspiring to shoot on pretty locations. One of my favorite places is by the lake in my hometown, with evergreen trees surrounding it and icy blue water. I've taken a lot of photos there, but my favorite may be the one called «Solitude». It's a self-portrait taken on a very early morning in september. I have a weird relationship to being alone. I love to be in my own company, but I hate to feel lonely. But on that day, there was a fine balance. There was a layer of fog swirling around above the water and I felt like I had all the time in the world. It was a good day.




What's your favourite motive?

I definitely like to shoot portraits of people the most. I also prefer to shoot outside, anywhere I find interesting. One of the most important things that I've learned from all of this is to find beauty in all people. It sounds so cheesy when I say it out loud, but it's the truth. There is always something. People are expressive and so, so complex. I love that.

What inspires you?

To observe pretty things around me, like how small rays of light peek through the trees in summer and how endless the sky looks when the snow is falling. My own thoughts and what I feel. Other people's art, great pieces of music, things other people say and tell. It can be anything. For example, yesterday I overheard a girl talking on the phone about how beautiful Africa is and how the sun looked like, it was about to set fire to the whole landscape as it went down. The way she described it made me want to jump on the first plane to Tanzania and take photos there.

How would you describe your style of photographing?

I am very bad at describing my own work. I don't think I have a specific «style». There is no pattern I follow when I shoot or edit my photos. I just try to make them as personal as possible, both visually and emotionally.





Do you prefer analog or digital photography?

I actually bought my first analog camera recently and I haven't tried it out yet. I have tried to shoot film in the past, but not enough to decide if I like it better or less than digital. I've always liked the way analog photos look though, it's something about the grain and the softness that I haven't been able to recreate with digital photos.

Is there anyone you would love to work with?

I would love to work with a writer/poet, like Jonathan Safran Foer or Anis Mojgani. The words they write and say inspire and facinate me to no end. I don't even know how or about what, but it would have to be something involving my photography and their words, spoken or written.


What are your plans for the future?

I always try to dodge this question because I always end up stuttering or with a blank space. Truth is, I don't know. Right now I'm studying film & television-production and I would absolutely love to work with something involving storytelling through film or something in the media. I've always told myself that I will never make photography my main job. I wouldn't say anything for sure. But what I do know is that I will always have photography with me no matter what I choose to do, and as long as I get to keep that part of me I'm happy.





Who are your heroes?

Tim Walker, Oleg Oprisco, Theo Gosselin and Olivia Bee are my heroes photography-wise. In my daily life I would say my mother, whom I adore and love very much.


What was your career aspiration during primary school?

I really liked to draw, so for a while I wanted to be an illustrator. And a writer. And a pet shop owner. And a pilot. I was a indecisive child.

If you could delete one task from your daily schedule, what would that be?

Well, I would love to not do the dishes ever again.

If you could switch lives with an other person for one day, who would that be?

All my favorite photographers assistant. I would die to just observe them doing their jobs!



Na, habe ich zu viel versprochen? Wer noch nicht genug von ihren Bildern hat, besucht am besten direkt ihren Tumblr oder wirft einen Blick auf ihren Flickr-Account. Wir sagen an dieser Stelle Danke für dieses tolle Bild, das unsere Seite bis zum Ende des Jahres schmücken wird. Thanks, dear Xin, for this amazing picture and the interview!



    8 out of 10 cats say she's funny as hell.

    So Kinder, das hier ist Mika (aka Lilly Rocket). Das Fräulein ist irgendwas über zwanzig, halbe Finnin und als sie klein war, wollte sie später Seeräuber werden. Aus den Abenteuern auf hoher See wurde leider nichts und so gilt ihre Liebe heute essenziell wichtigen Dingen wie Mode und Mädchenkram, Reisen und trashigen Analogfotografien, Burgern und Eiscreme, Luftballons und Seifenblasen.