In a world where the lens of a camera serves as both a storyteller and an artist's brush, Ruo Bing Li stands at the intersection of creativity and culture. His journey into the world of fashion photography is a tale of evolution, one that weaves through academia, inspiration, and a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of his heritage. We sat down with Ruo to delve into the depths of his artistic perspective and to explore the ever-evolving landscape of fashion photography, and to reflect on our collaboration, which added a unique dimension to RED-EYE.
Ruo, can you share with us a bit about your background as a photographer? When did you decide to dedicate your entire career to fashion photography?
In university, I pursued a major in visual studies and a minor in art history. Later, I obtained a master's degree in digital photography from the School of Visual Art in New York. While at SVA, my focus wasn't initially on a career in fashion photography. However, a pivotal moment occurred when I assisted a fashion photographer for a school project. This experience made me realize the challenges of sustaining oneself solely as a fine art photographer. I've always been
into fashion and I came to appreciate that fashion photography represented a captivating blend of artistic expression and commercial viability. As a result, my path naturally evolved towards becoming a fashion photographer.
The artistic aesthetics of your work are magnetic, from symbolism to poses and image creation. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I found inspiration in a bit of everything—movies, art, painting, architecture, you name it. I believe that simply living life and taking joy in all the little things around us can be a boundless source of inspiration. Plus, my own background played a significant role. Being Chinese, I have a deep appreciation for my culture and its aesthetics. Many of my works reflect this Asian artistic influence, often characterized by a softer and more reserved approach.
Do you have any role models or inspirations that influence your work?
When I first started my career, I drew immense inspiration from photography legends like Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and others. I wasn't just studying their photographic styles; I was equally fascinated by the way they lived their lives and their profound influence on shaping the photography industry. To truly grasp our current photography landscape, I believe it's crucial to delve into the history of photography and understand the journey that has brought us to where we are today.
New York City is a big city of creativity and inspiration. How would you describe the fashion photography creative scene here, and how do you contribute to this community? Are there any specific places or neighborhoods you find to be a rich source of creativity for your photography projects?
New York City is undeniably a hub of creativity and inspiration, particularly in the realm of fashion photography. The fashion photography creative scene here is dynamic, diverse, and constantly evolving. In terms of my contribution to this community, I want to bring my unique perspective and artistic vision to the table. I believe in the power of collaboration and have had the privilege of working with incredibly talented individuals in the industry, from models and stylists to makeup artists and fellow photographers. By sharing ideas and pushing creative boundaries together, we collectively contribute to the innovation and growth of the fashion photography scene here. When it comes to cool spots for inspiration, the entire city is basically my playground. SoHo's streets, Brooklyn's industrial vibes, and the timeless charm of Central Park – they've all had a hand in shaping my work. But what's amazing about New York is that you can find inspiration on any street corner or in any neighborhood. It's this ever-changing backdrop that keeps my creativity flowing and lets me capture the city's essence in my photography.
Artificial intelligence and photography are becoming increasingly prevalent in the photography industry. How do you see the evolution of this trend and what advantages and challenges does it pose for photographers?
AI and photography are getting cozy in the photography world, and it's changing the game big time. Here's how I see this trend rolling out and what it means for us photographers. On the upside, we're talking about getting stuff done quicker with AI tools. Let's talk about creativity boost – AI can inspire us to experiment with wild ideas by offering cool artistic tools, such as Midjourney. But on the flip side, some folks are worried AI might steal our gigs. Relying too much on AI might zap the personal, artistic touch we bring to our work. And, we've got to invest time learning these AI tools and workflows, which can be a bit of a headache. So, the AI-photography love story is exciting, but it's also got its hiccups. We've got to stay creative, embrace the tech without losing our unique style, and keep an eye on the ethical stuff. It's a wild ride, but we're here for it!
Looking ahead, what excites you about the future of fashion photography? Are there any emerging technologies or trends that you believe will have a significant impact on the industry, and how do you plan to adapt and innovate within this evolving Landscape?
The future of fashion photography really got me pretty amped up! There are some exciting things on the horizon. I mean, technology is moving fast, and it's changing the game for us photographers. I'm keeping an eye on things like augmented reality and virtual fashion shows – they're shaking up the industry and giving us new ways to tell visual stories. As the fashion photography landscape evolves, I'm planning to stay flexible, learn new tricks, and experiment with these emerging trends. It's all about adapting, staying fresh, and pushing those creative boundaries.
What advice would you give to young creative talents who want to enter the world of photography and innovation?
I would say start by nailing the basics, experiment like crazy, learn from the pros but keep it fresh with tech trends, network, tell stories with your works, be patient, embrace feedback, find inspiration everywhere, and, most importantly, let your passion drive your journey – because that's what it's all about.
Interview by Giorgia Imbrenda
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