An Rong Xu, a New York-based photographer and filmmaker, explores the world from a unique perspective. Born in China and raised in New York City’s Chinatown, Xu has a wistful and cinematic aesthetic, as well as a deep appreciation for capturing the beauty of the ordinary.
Xu says he was raised between two cultures. “Growing up in Chinatown was like learning how to be Chinese through a translator and learning how to be American through my own experiences. I learned about my cultural heritage through my parents and their daily rituals, which was essentially hustle, hustle, hustle. I watched the Chinese New Years parade, with lion dancers going down Mott Street, but I didn’t understand its significance. I learned about my culture, yet I was still unsure what any of it meant.” This uncertainty about culture and identity is a consistent theme across Xu’s art: “Often children of immigrants grow up feeling as if we belong neither to our inherited culture nor to our adoptive culture, so in my work, I’m in search of what it means to be Chinese-American.”
Xu’s work has appeared in Time, GQ Taiwan, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times, among other publications, and he’s shot for companies such as Instagram, Airbnb, Under Armour, and Google. He also directed a series of short films called New Romantics that depicts Asian-American love and relationships. About his creative process, Xu says: “As a photographer, I focus only on the image. As a director, I have to keep in mind image, story, and concept, all while things are moving.”
许安荣曾合作的出版物和公司包括《时代》杂志、《GQ》（台湾）、《纽约时报》、Instagram、Airbnb、Under Armour、Google 和《滚石》杂志等。作为电影导演，他拍摄了月播短片剧《New Romantics》，讲述亚裔美国人的爱情和关系的故事。谈及自己的创作过程，许安荣说：“作为摄影师，画面永远是我最看重的方面。作为导演，在画面不断推进的同时，我还必须时刻关注画面、故事和概念。”
Xu tells the story behind an image he captured on a recent visit to Seoul. Not long before he had to return to the United States, he took a walk from Gangnam to his apartment in Haebangchon, on the other side of the river. “As I walked across the bridge, I saw this one couple hugging and looking out onto the river, just talking,” he recalls. “I stood across from them, watching them enjoy their night, in love. And at that moment, all these feelings came over me. I wondered whether I’d ever feel something like their love, whether I’d ever find someone to share life with. As I watched, they got on their motorcycle, and I waited for them to start pulling away. I caught that moment, just as those two young lovers were about to ride off into the night, so absorbed by each other that they didn’t care about anything else.”
许安荣给我们讲述了他最近去韩国首尔时拍摄的一张照片背后的故事。在他即将离开韩国回美国的两天前，他从首尔的江南地区走路回去位于 Haebangchon 河边的公寓。他说：“那天晚上我穿过公园的时候, 看到许多年轻人在野餐，在享受夏日的夜晚。当我走在桥上时，我看到一对夫妇，他们相拥着，凝望着河边聊天。我站在他们对面，看着他们陶醉地享受着这个夜晚，沉浸在爱河中，在那一刻，我的内心涌起了各种的情绪和疑问，譬如，我以后有可能感受到像他们那样的爱情吗？我会找到一个可以一起生活的人吗？又或者，我以后会学会骑摩托车吗？他们开始骑上摩托车，然后我就等着他们骑车离开，我要捕捉住这一个时刻，捕捉住这两个年轻的恋人，两个相互吸引的年轻恋人，他们骑车没入这个黑夜，在他们眼中只有对方，别无他物。”
In all his work, Xu captures his subjects with an emotional complexity that’s both revealing and intimate. “I try to go in with as much research as possible, to see if I can connect with them, so there’s a sense of trust and intimacy,” he says. “My favorite thing is to go for a walk, or follow along with them to see them in their element.” The honesty behind Xu’s approach to photography and filmmaking may be what makes his work so compelling. He says simply, “For me, an image is beautiful when it makes me ask more questions than it has answers.”