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With smartphone camera capabilities quickly matching and even surpassing those of DSLR cameras, professional photographers and consumers alike are resorting to their phones for everything from a professional headshot to the perfect Instagram picture. Recently, we held a portrait photography competition, attracting a wide variety of submissions, many shot on Mi 6 with our flagship dual-camera setup. Photographer An Shenlyu won the competition with his photography series called “A Love Dream.” We spoke with him after his win about what inspires him and his experience using Mi 6’s camera.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an independent photographer based in Shenzhen. I’m good at creating artistic portraits and I like building dreams by using photography to show my fantasies and dreams.
How did you become a photographer? How would you describe your style?
Two years ago, I began to take photos to keep a record of my life. Gradually it grew into an indispensable habit. When I get old, these photos can remind me of my past moments and emotions.
Speaking of photography style, I like emotional and touching images that can inspire me like poems and paintings can. I want my photos to mimic the colors and forms of oil paintings.
What do you think are the main reasons that your photography series, “A Love Dream,” won our competition?
Luck, I should say, because many photographers I admire also joined this competition. Another reason would be my style and attention to detail. I’ve been trying to put unrelated things together in the same scene and make them look comfortable and coordinated. To achieve this harmony, I need DIY tools and garments at the scene. For this series, I needed a cloth curtain in the middle of the water.To work out this effect, I used a wooden structure to fix the curtain. Additionally, the lanterns, oil paper umbrellas and other garments all took a lot of effort.
An Shenlyu shooting “A Love Dream”
How did you conceptualize the idea for “A Love Dream”?
My original idea for “A Love Dream” was to transform a dream scene into a reality, where a beautiful woman leans on a tree in the middle of a sea. Many people living in big cities like being close to nature, as it provides a change from their typical view of skyscrapers out the window. The photos were taken in a famous tourist destination in Dali, Yunnan, where trees grow in the vast waters. I had to wait for a sunny day to shoot the photos because sunshine defines the style, and if you take the photos on a gloomy day, it would completely change the feel and style of the photo.
Different from design, for which post-production is crucial, I think the most important part in photography is the content. Developing and executing creative ideas are crucial to me. I often watch movies, listen to music and see good exhibitions where I am inspired. Usually I first come up with a point, which then evolves into an image. Then I prepare tools and garments, contact models, check the weather forecast and pick a day for shooting.
What do you think are the key factors for portraits?
This is a rather complicated question. You need to pour your emotions into your photos, so that people can feel the resonance of emotion, even if they don’t know the person in the photo. A photo without emotion is just an ordinary photo and can’t be considered art.
Another important thing is that I love nature. When I come across a beautiful place, I imagine someone standing in the environment. I observe the natural light and figure out the best time, the best clothes, and the best tools and garments for shooting.
Tell us your feelings about Mi 6. Does it make photo shooting easier for you?
Mi 6 provided a good user experience. I appreciate the slogan “Picture Perfect Dual Camera. Its 4-axis OIS makes shooting easier. The sunlight was very strong on the day I shot “A Love Dream,” but the photos were still well exposed. In general, I like Mi 6’s color quality and its ability to capture an environment truthfully.
Can you share a few photo-taking tips with our Mi Fans?
For non-professionals, I think good photography composition is half the success of a nice photo. Photography composition is like the frame of a house. If the framework is good, the house will not look bad regardless of its decorations. The other half includes light, colors and theme, which can be improved through practice.
I often watch movies to learn from their composition and artistic practices. I also see a lot of good photography work, almost on a daily basis. After seeing enough beautiful things, your aesthetic and tastes will naturally improve.
*All the photos in this post are contributed by An Shenlyu.