Young Wild & Free

Wang Wei is a Beijing-based photographer who works entirely on 35mm analog film. Though he’s best known for his fashion photography, Wang’s personal work offers a unique perspective of life in China. His ongoing series, Young Wild & Free, consists of fun, quirky vignettes of his daily life and the lives of those around him. These images capture a sense of playfulness and freedom that encapsulate the coming-of-age experience for the youth of China.


来自北京的王未是一位坚持只用35mm胶片拍摄的摄影师。虽然如今的王未以时尚摄影而闻名,但他的个人作品却为人们提供了一个独特的视角,得以观察在中国的生活。目前他正在进行的系列《Young Wild & Free》中,拍下了他和他身边人有趣且离奇的日常生活。这些照片概括了中国年轻人的成长经历,捕捉到了玩乐和自由的感觉。

Wang was first introduced to photography in middle school when he received a mobile phone with a built-in camera as a birthday present. Although the camera’s resolution was only around 0.3 megapixels, the ability to take photos was life-changing for him. He tells us, “At school, I would always be taking pictures of my classmates, of life on campus, of things that happened in my daily life. Soon after, my parents purchased a digital camera, and I would play around with it when they weren’t using it. Sometimes I would even bring it with me to school. Since then, I just haven’t stopped shooting.”


初中的时候,有一年过生日,王未收到了一台能拍照的手机作为生日礼物,虽然这台手机只能拍30万像素的照片,但拍照这个功能对他来说特别新鲜。他说:上学的时候我就爱各种拍,拍同学,拍校园生活和身边的事情。之后家里也换了一部数码相机,父母不用的时候我就自己随便鼓弄,有时上学我也会带着。就这样一直没有停过,拍到了现在。

The Young Wild & Free series came about during Wang’s university years, when he would continue to photograph scenes from his life and the people around him. The name of the series came about when he heard Snoop Dogg’s song “Young, Wild and Free.” He would readopt the name for his own project: “Young” was the reference to his subject matters, “wild” as a reference to the aesthetic, and “free” as the general feeling that he wanted to share with his audience. As his photography evolved over the series’ development, Wang also experienced a change in his own attitude towards art, life, and the world at large. “At the time, I was pretty rebellious, and it felt like my photos were becoming gloomier. But then I went through a period where I was traveling a lot, and it helped me realize the world was a beautiful place. After I came back home, I felt like my mind had been opened – my aesthetic and outlook were drastically changed, and my photography changed with it. I kept the carefree and joyous aspects of my previous photographic style but got rid of the sad and depressed side.” The project is a continual work in progress that holds significant personal meaning to Wang: “It’s become a long-term project that I hold close to my heart, and I plan to keep adding to it. It’s a reflection of my life and all of my emotions.”


王未开始创作《Young Wild & Free》是在大学的时候,当时的他还一直在拍摄朋友和身边的年轻人。有一天,王未听到Snoop Dogg的《Young Wild & Free》后,就决定用歌名作为这个摄影系列的名字。如同《Young Wild & Free》的字面意思,年轻,狂野,自由。年轻是指他选择的拍摄对象,狂野是他的视觉形式,而自由则是他想表达给观众的感觉。在创作这一系列期间,王未对艺术、生活和世界的态度发生了变化,摄影风格也随之改变那段时间我非常叛逆,拍摄的作品也有些颓废。但是之后突然有段时间我开始疯狂旅行,觉得世界特别美好,回来后整个人也打开了,审美和价值观都发生了变化,作品风格随之也改变了。于是我把先前照片中快乐自由、释放的一面保留了下来,舍去了悲伤和颓废的一面。王未会一直不断地去创作这一个摄影系列,因为它对王未自己来说有着特殊的意义,现在这个系列是我的一个长期项目,鲜活可喜,对我的意义非凡,我会一直拍下去。

A photograph from the series that sticks out in Wang’s memory is an image of a girl standing in front of rainbow-colored plane trails. He shares, “It was a fleeting moment. It’s meaningful to me because of how difficult it was to capture, a lot harder than you could imagine.” Taken in Beijing in 2015 at the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Japan in World War II, the photograph was planned meticulously beforehand by Wang and a friend. However, even after setting up the shot on a rooftop and anticipating the path and schedule of the airplane formation, Wang found himself rushed and unprepared to shoot when the actual moment arrived. “When the planes actually went overhead, they flew by so fast, the noise was deafening, and my camera can’t shoot in burst. Despite the planning, it felt like I was winging it when the moment happened. In my excitement, I took two photographs. When I developed them, I was surprised that both of the photos came out great. I felt really happy, and definitely knew that I got lucky.”


这个系列中,有一张照片让王未尤其印象深刻。那是一个站在喷射彩烟飞机前面的女孩。他说:这张照片有很强的瞬时性,所以非常难得也很有意义,当然实际拍摄情况也远比想象的要艰难那张照片是他在2015年北京反法西斯战争胜利70周年阅兵当天拍摄的。王未提前和朋友构思并准备好怎样拍摄。但是,尽管他们在楼顶摆好相机,预估了飞机方阵的大致时间和方位,但真正到了要拍摄的时候,还是有点手忙脚乱。实际飞机过来时,速度非常快,噪音也很大,而且我的相机没有连拍功能,真的可以用瞎拍来形容,激动之余就拍了两张。片子洗出来,竟然两张都抓拍到了很棒的瞬间,非常惊喜,也算非常的幸运了,这种拍摄经历挺有意思的。他说道。

Growing up in Beijing, Wang brings a unique perspective and outlook to the city. According to him, “Beijing is a special place – it’s a cultural and political center. I feel like people have stronger principles here, and as a result, artistic expression is more direct.” As a Beijing native, the familiarity of the city gives him a greater sense of security and creative freedom. “It allows the freedom to follow your instincts, without having to consider too many things. Being in this kind of environment allows me to simplify my creative process, and results come more naturally.”


王未从小在北京长大,对这座城市他有自己独特的见解和看法。他说:北京这座城市很特殊,文化和政治的中心。它给我的感觉就是是非观会比较强,可能在艺术的表达上就会更加直接。作为土生土长的北京人,他对这座城市的熟悉赋予了他更多创作时的安全感和自由。(我在创作时)能随心所欲,不用考虑太多,所以在这种环境下,会使我的创作过程更加简单,创作结果更加原始。王未解释道。

As a photographer who focuses on youth, Wang is inspired by the nostalgia of 20th-century Western coming-of-age films. He shares with us, “I remember watching one film where the mood and the shots were really great; even though it didn’t have any subtitles, and I couldn’t understand what the actors were saying, I still watched it twice.” A film that left a deep impression on him was the 1990 independent comedy-drama Slacker, directed by Richard Linklater. “I found it to be both boring and compelling. It was boring because of the relative cultural differences and it taking place in a time and place that I couldn’t relate to. But it was compelling because of the way it was shot and the general atmosphere of the film – the ending had me excited for the whole afternoon.” Wang is inspired by the parallels between photography and film, and channels this inspiration into his own photo shoots: “I care more about the feeling of the entire film,” he tells us. “Sometimes when I’m on a photo shoot, I’ll think of it like I’m making a film. I’ll focus on creating a certain mood, and before I shoot, I’ll reference films or movie stills that are similar to what I want to create. When I shoot, I’ll channel this information in my own way to make my images.”


作为一名喜欢专注青春主题来拍摄的摄影师,王未的创作灵感在很大程度上都是来自 20世纪的欧美青春电影。他解释道:我曾经看了一部西语电影,画面和氛围都很好,没有字幕,我也听不懂,但是还是看了两遍。一部让他印象深刻的电影是Richard Linklater导演的《都市浪人》(Slacker)。他回忆道:我觉得这部电影既无聊又有趣,无聊是因为文化差异和时代背景不同,提不起兴趣,有趣是因为拍摄形式和整体感觉很吸引人,尤其是电影结尾的处理,让我兴奋一下午。电影与摄影之间的共通之处让王未深受启发,并将之融入自己的摄影中。我更在乎一部电影的整体感觉,我拍照有时就像在拍电影,比较在意最终营造的氛围,拍摄前会看些类似的电影或者剧照,拍摄时再把吸收信息的通过自己的方式释放出来,完成作品。

For Wang, authenticity is the most essential element of good photography. He says, “When an image is authentic, it will leave a deeper impression on me. ‘Authentic’ doesn’t just mean it’s documenting something. I’m talking about an artistic kind of authenticity, for example, something that is irreplicable or feels within reach.” This philosophy of authenticity is evident in Wang’s own work and life, and in that sense, his approach towards photography has stayed consistent throughout the years. He says, “I don’t really like to follow what others are doing. I like to put a certain distance between myself from the world. I don’t like to passively absorb information, so I’ll usually just keep my head down and work on my own stuff. I’m clear on what I’m doing and where I want to go, so I focus on my own ideas.”


在王未看来,真实性是一张好照片的重要元素。他说:如果一张照片是真实的,更容易打动我。真实不是纪实,是艺术上的真实感。比如,难以复制或者令人触手可及。在王未的生活和工作中,保持真实一直是他的一个重要理念。同样,他的摄影方式在多年来也依旧保持初心。他说:我很少关注其他人在做什么,我喜欢屏蔽外界,不喜欢被动接收信息,所以我一直埋头做自己的事情,比较清楚自己在做什么,将来要做什么,在乎自己内心的想法,无论是对摄影还是其他。

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Contributor: George Zhi Zhao


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Flickr: ~/wang_wei
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供稿人: George Zhi Zhao