Chinese photographer Li Hui’s work depicts youth, nature, intimacy and detail through a lens that feels ethereally otherworldly, casting a subtle shimmer on everyday subjects. Learn more in our interview with the artist.
How did you get to where you are?
I started off posting my pictures on the Internet. Someone liked them, and things sort of took off from there. I got noticed more and more. The Internet has been very good to me.
When did you start taking photos?
I got my first film camera in 2009 and I suddenly found a way to record what I like. I realized that film cameras capture things in a much more interesting way than digital ones. I could create a whole new world of my own. Photography gives me a chance to have a stab at understanding the world. It’s the best way to express the inner me.
Can you share more about what you photographed for this series?
I tried to capture the details that are easily ignored in my everyday life. I essentially attempted to peel away the skin to reveal what’s hidden inside. I also wanted to make certain objects appear as if they were human beings with real emotions. And I like to use double exposure to create the illusion of people living ensconced in shimmery stars, as if they were time travelers.
What do you love photographing?
I love to shoot almost everything around me that has some personal meaning: animals, nature, even a simple fruit. But people are always my main subject. I learn new things every day. I like to experiment with new ways of shooting, with angles, emotional communication, light experiments, double exposure and color matching. It’s like a game.
What are you most drawn to in your work?
Natural light, particularly at sunrise and at sunset. The colors and the sun’s angle change depending on the season, so the light can either be really strong or extremely fragile and soft. I've always thought that taking pictures using natural light makes it easier to capture elusive moments and the passing of time.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
The snow. I know it’s pretty cold, but I would love to see heavy snow make everything look clean and beautiful.
Who are some photographers or artists you admire?
Michaël Borremans, Lucian Freud, and Jocelyn Lee. I feel touched when I look at their works. I’m usually attracted by subtle details that are not easy to detect, by hidden emotions or the mysterious attributes of things. In their work, I can find a common spirit, a sense of something that goes beneath the mere surface.
Describe a typical day in the life.
Music wakes me up in the morning, and if there's sunlight shining through my window, I usually hurry to spend a couple of hours taking pictures to work on my latest visual concepts and ideas. Then I drink my favorite smoothie, reply to some emails, or just start reading a book. Although I do not particularly like going out, I sometimes go to a nearby lake for a walk while listening to music around sunset. And to be honest I share most of my time with my cat, sleeping, eating, and playing together. If I’m in the right mood, I watch movies for some inspiration at night.
Describe a dream project/subject to shoot.
Burning different kinds of flowers. I recently got interested in the subject of fire. I want to create something new that I can fall in love with. Also, I’m interested in people’s hands. They can be very mysterious and evoke certain emotions. Fingers sometimes seem creepy to me when I look at them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Forget the rules and never stop experimenting with creative ideas. You will soon find your own way of doing things.