The philosophy behind the works of Beijing-based photographer, Luo Yang is centered on the female gender. For Luo, the plethora of characteristics that women are able to embody is what makes them such a rich and intriguing subject matter. Over the past decade, her body of work has centered on the journey of girls growing up into women – capturing both the fragility and tenacity of women are what makes her images so humanizing. The life changes that her subjects undergo, such as the process of entering motherhood, inspired her latest photo series. “I was drawn to these women and their attempts in maintaining a balance between self-care and child rearing. It was a process that I appreciated greatly and found myself wanting to express. When I met Yu Mo and her son, I knew that their relationship would be central to this series. I want to continue capturing this relationship as both mother and son grow together. I hope this to be a long-term project which breaks all preconceived conceptions about ordinary human relationships.” Having more questions than answers after our talk with Luo Yang, we decided to chat with Yu Mo, the mother who modeled for this project, in an attempt to gain more insight into what this project means to her.
Neocha: What does this series of photographs mean to you? Why were you interested in participating in this project in the first place?
Yu Mo: Children are endlessly growing and developing. Each phase passes by so quick. If you miss it, it’s gone forever. I’m grateful that Luo Yang could record this period in our lives through this photo series, which I greatly treasure. I really enjoyed Luo Yang’s other female-related works. Her style is quite different from other photographers I’ve known, so I really wanted to try and work with her. Coincidentally, she had an idea to shoot a project related to children and childhood, so the stars aligned.
Neocha: How does your son feel about this photo shoot? What was his reaction to some of the photos afterward?
Yu Mo: He’s actually participated in his fair share of shoots already and didn’t feel like this project was any different. He reviewed every single photo quite seriously and told me which ones he liked. His favorites from this shoot are the ones where we’re cuddling and playing around. I don’t fully understand the standards he judges these photos on, but I assume it comes from a childhood innocence.
Neocha: It’s difficult to keep a young child calm. Can you share some of the interesting things that happened during the shoot?
Yu Mo: Seeing as how he’s been photographed a lot, he’s sort of experienced, so he doesn’t act unruly. I did tell him beforehand that this shoot would be in the nude. The funny thing is, the moment he took off his clothes in the room, he went wild and started horsing around. The removing of clothes was like a release of energy for him, something that unleashed his true and most natural self.
Neocha: What are your thoughts on nude photography? What does it represent to you? If you weren’t nude in the shoot, how would it alter the meaning behind this series?
Yu Mo: As a model, I feel like it’s important to work with the photographer on their envisioned theme and message. Of course, during the process, the model can express their own thoughts and suggestions to the photographer. Being nude or not isn’t important. The most important part is fully conveying the feelings and themes that the photographer is after. Whether you’re clothed or nude, you can still produce great photography. In the end, it’s about what you’re trying to convey.
Neocha: Have your friends or family seen these photos? What were their reactions?
Yu Mo: My family hasn’t seen them, but many of my friends have. Some people like them, some have said I’m brave, and some don’t approve. It’s definitely controversial, but I’m unaffected by outside opinion, I only look to myself. I think this project was quite a natural and realistic depiction of my son and I. What parents haven’t been in a circumstance where they’re unclothed in the same room with their offspring?
玉墨: 亲戚家人没有看过，朋友当中有很多关注. 有赞赏，也有惊叹我大胆的，也有不认可，争议肯定是有的，但我不会受外界干扰，还是比较属于自我的。而且我觉得我们作品表现得很现实，很自然。哪对父母没有在孩子的小时候和他们赤诚相待过？