The light filters softly in through the window on the figure of a young man. Face half-covered, with a calm and slightly defiant expression, he looks as though he knows something he doesn’t want to reveal. The photo is part of Comfort Boy Zoom, a series of portraits of men in varying states of undress taken by Yan Yufeng. Asked why so much of his work features semi-naked men, he laughs. “That’s a misunderstanding,” he says. “That’s just one of my projects. Maybe everyone remembers it because it’s been going on for a while now.” It’s memorable not for the suggestive subject matter, but for the way the portraits blend confidence and vulnerability, withholding and revealing in equal measure. “The subject is an exploration of masculinity,” Yan explains. “And the models decide whether or not they wear clothes.”
光线透过窗户，投落在一名年轻男孩身上。半遮掩的脸上，表情平静又略带挑衅，像是藏着一个不想透露的秘密。这张照片来自严玉峰的摄影系列《Comfort Boy Zoom》，其中有许多男性私房照。谈到为什么他的大部分作品都是半裸男人时，他笑着说：“我觉得这是个误解。这只是我的其中一个拍摄项目，可能因为这个项目延续时间比较长，所以大家比较记得。”这个系列之所以令人难忘，不仅在于当中的性暗示主题，更因为这些肖像作品那种兼备自信和脆弱的矛盾性，以及在表象之下有所隐藏的神秘感。“模特穿不穿衣服都是由他们自己决定的，这个主题主要还是对男性气质的探讨。”严他解释道。
Yan grew up in Chengdu and studied printmaking in college in Milan. He began taking photos only a few years ago, in 2015, as part of a school project. He found he had a knack for it, and before long he’d turned his hobby into a profession. Now he lives in Shanghai and shoots for fashion brands such as Angel Chen, Ponder.er, and Untitlab, and magazines such as ELLE Men. When he’s not taking pictures for clients, he works on building his portfolio.
And whatever he says, that portfolio is dominated by half-naked men. They recline on couches, lie draped over chairs, stand baring all—though in many of the photos, the sensitive areas have discreetly been blurred out. Often a rectangle of sunlight falls across a chest, a geometrical counterpoint to the human subject. Yan’s genius lies in his knack for using light to give his photographs an unexpected depth.
严玉峰自小在成都长大，大学时去了米兰就读版画专业。直到 2015 年，因为学校的一个项目，他才开始涉足摄影。很快他就发现自己在摄影方面颇具天赋，这个爱好就变成了职业。现在，他居住在上海，为 Angel Chen、Ponder.er 和 Untitlab 等时尚品牌拍摄，还有 ELLE Men 之类的杂志。不用给客户拍照时，他就会进行个人创作。
A portrait of the photographer Liu Shuwei, taken at his Shanghai home, is set against the fading rays of a late afternoon sun. Another, more immediate light illuminates Liu from the front, and almost seems to radiate out from his body. The fine balance between these sources of light is what gives the portrait its electric energy.
Even more dramatic lighting is at play in Yan’s black-and-white self-portraits, floating against a black backdrop and edited to leave only isolated strips of bare skin. The result is a series of almost geometric compositions—monochrome arrangements where the human figure has been sublimated into an abstract shape.
Given his close attention to form, it’s surprising that Yan says he’s led largely by instinct. “What I think about most [when shooting] is whether I like the photo or not,” he says. “Whether it’s a travel photo, a still life, or a portrait, if it ultimately carries out its mission, it’s a good shot.”