When Shanghai Fashion Week rolls around every year, one of the most eye-catching characters in front of the scrum is Wang Lili, a freelance street fashion photographer with an unlikely past. Born to a poor farming family in the Henan countryside, Wang had little opportunity to interact with the fashion world.
As a young woman, Wang moved from Henan to Shenzhen to work in factories like many other young migrants. She started at the bottom, working shifts as a security guard or operating sewing machines, working 12 hours per day almost every day of the month without breaks.
Any spare time she had, Wang devoted to writing novels about migrant worker life for the young factory women around her. She published many of these online and gained some recognition as a migrant novelist. Restless and tired of this label, she moved to Shanghai to explore new paths.
Photography was an accidental discovery. Wang says, “I have never had any arts education. I think artists aren’t educated – they are born that way. I didn’t know how to use cameras before. After going to a lot of events, friends would ask me to take pictures of them with their cameras. I didn’t really know how to use a camera before that. They would set it up for me and I would press the button. That was how I started learning.”
摄影这事纯属偶然。 王丽丽说: “我从未接受过任何艺术教育，我认为艺术家不是教育出来的，他们生来如此。我之前并不知道怎样使用照相机。在参加许多活动之后，朋友们会让我用他们的照相机为他们拍照。在那之前，我还不知道怎样使用照相机。他们会为我设置好，然后我再按快门。我就是这样开始学习摄影的。”
Wang constantly browses online street photography blogs like The Sartorialist and Tommy Ton, taking cues and studying from them. Style is intuitive, she says, not everyone can pull it off. “My own style is my nature. I’m a writer, so my origins are different. I believe in yin and yang, so I dress according to that. I think a lot of what I wear is not clothing, it’s art.”
王丽丽不断地浏览诸如The Sartorialist和Tommy Ton这样的街头摄影博客，从中学习并获得启发。风格是凭直觉获得的，她说，不是每个人都能自如掌控和驾驭的。 “我自己的风格就是我的天性。我是一个作家，因此我的来源是不同的。我相信阴阳，也依此穿衣。我想我穿的很多东西，它并不是衣服，它是艺术。”
Wang can be found at major fashion events in Shanghai, picking unconventional people out of the crowd with her very unique eye and approach. Apart from street style fashion photography, Wang also focuses on other themes such as migrant children, public laundry, intimates hung out to dry, and scenes of old Shanghai.