Theatrical Flair

Born and raised in northeastern China, Song Wanjie (a.k.a Julian Song) is a photographer who jokingly describes himself as a “folk artist with dreams of opening a dumpling restaurant.” After tasting his homemade jiaozi first-hand, I’d say his restaurateur ambitions aren’t that farfetched.

Song has taken an unorthodox career path. In college, he originally majored in economics before switching over to advertising, and was only inspired to learn the basics of photography when he was handed a camera and asked to help out on a commercial video shoot. Then love stepped in: a significant other gave him a film camera and opened the door to a new world. He took to it like a fish in water, snapping as many shots as he could. Conscious of his amateur background, he mostly stuck to imitating others—until one day someone asked him, “How come your work looks so much like so-and-so’s?” Only then did he realize he needed to find his own style.

生长在东北,Julian 的简介是“民间艺人宋万杰,梦想是开一家饺子馆”。吃人嘴短,我绝对可以证明,他这个梦想不是空穴来风。

自称为“野路子”,非摄影科班出身的 Julian 最初学习的是经济学,辗转到广告学专业之后,一次广告视频的拍摄需要,他得到了自己的第一个相机,经历一点点的自学摸索的过程后,场景切换到一个浪漫的爱情故事,热恋期对象送他的一个胶片相机打开了他的新世界大门,对摄影这件事,他开始变得如鱼得水。但同样由于“野路子”的自我认知,他大量地去拍摄、积累甚至模仿,直到有一天发现有人对他说“你拍的东西怎么特别像那谁……”,他才突然发现得要找找自己了。

“Most people see you using similar colors and think you’re copying. But I think the colors can be similar—the content just has to be different,” says Song. “I want to get away from what people have seen before, do something different. Who’d have thought that a scene like this, with a jumble of everyday objects against a backdrop of clouds and sky, would work?”

Song is especially excited to tell me about his most recent series, Paradise Drama Club. “When the photos came out I was practically moved to tears. You know how when you’re so happy you want to jump off a building?” The inspiration for this shoot came from the music video for “Stubborn” (倔强), a song from 2004 by the Taiwanese pop band Mayday. Sensitive to visuals, Song must have unconsciously filed away the song and the video in some corner of his brain and suddenly reactivated it now.

“一般人就会觉得颜色相似,你就是在抄袭,但我觉得颜色或许可以相像,但内容一定完全不同,我想摆脱他们见过的一切,做不一样的东西。谁能想象这样一个场景,一些看起来无序的生活事件在同一个天空背景下却可以和谐共生。”Julian特别兴奋地跟我讲述他最近一次拍摄的作品《Paradise Drama Club》,“片子出来自己快被感动哭,你知道那种开心到想跳楼的感觉吗!”而这个拍摄的灵感起点是五月天的《倔强》的 MV,凭借一直以来对画面的敏感,这个 MV 场景跟整首歌一起被他长久无意识地储存在了大脑的某个房间里,在当下的某一刻被突然启动。

In person, he’s as bubbly and uninhibited as in his photos. He told me that much of his inspiration comes from S.H.E, the Taiwanese girl band he loved as a kid. (In fact, most of our interview took place with the SHE 17th anniversary concert album playing in the background). At the peak of S.H.E’s popularity, Song was just a teenager. Little did he know, memories of his idol would inspire his art as an adult.

就像作品里的那种乐观坦诚一样,他跟我大方地分享了承包他大半个童年并作为当下创作灵感来源的 SHE(整个采访对话发生的白噪音也是 SHE17 纪念演唱会),当年这个台湾女子组合红透半边天时,Julian 还是个少年,他自己也完全没想到,那个黄金时代的偶像记忆会成为他现在的摄影创作支撑。

In every shot you can probably find touches of real life: a model staring at a bottle of skin creme; a boy taking a selfie in a fitting room; a TV host striking a crazy pose in what looks like a live studio broadcast. To get images that seem to tell a story, Song spends a long time before every shoot getting prepared, reviewing the material, and listening to music for inspiration. “I refuse to do things mechanically. I don’t want to repeat myself, and I don’t want people to think an object or color in my work can be replaced,” he says. “So I put my story and what I understand of culture into every piece, and I make sure each one challenges me.”

你大概能在他的每张照片里都找到一个真实的生活元素: 处在模特直视中的一瓶大宝 SOD 蜜;试衣间里的自拍男孩儿;一个演播室里似乎正在直播进行时的疯狂女主播….而为了营造这种独特的的叙事感,每一次创作前 Julian 都会花大量时间查资料听音乐去做充足的前期准备,“我很拒绝机械化生产,不想一再去重复,让别人觉得我的东西可以被某个物件某种颜色代替,所以我把我理解的文化跟我的故事注入每次创作里,并确保每一次都是在挑战自己。”

If there’s one thing people notice about him, says Song, it’s that he’s down-to-earth. I might add that he’s got an eye for making things look just right. And after seeing his photos, you can’t help but admit, this photographer will definitely wrap a beautiful dumpling.

接地气,是 Julian 觉得自己能被记住的原因,而看完所有这些照片你也不得不承认,这个摄影师一定能把每只饺子都包得很好看。


Instagram: @juliannn_song


Contributor: Shou Xing
English Translation: Allen Young

Instagram: @juliannn_song


供稿人: Shou Xing
中译英: Allen Young