"I think photography is a way to understand the outside world and to know people. This energy happened in a mutual way, intertwined when the moment I click my camera. It was a wonderful collision in which both parties gain energy from the other person. All my subjects are beautiful, brave, honest and real, they give me a lot of inspirations. "_Luo Yang
Interview :Luo Yang
ーHow did you get into photography and how did you start the ‘Girls'?
I studied graphic design in college, photography started as my own hobby, something I like. I began with taking pictures of things around me, friends, classmates… it developed naturally and I found the way to express my own emotions through photographing women.
ー You have photographed many subjects for 'Girls'. How did you meet these girls?
In the beginning they were mostly my friends, classmates. I went to an art college with many cool and special girls. Later on the subjects came from the internet, and friend’s friends.
ー Is there anything about you that is influenced by your subjects? Or do you receive energy from your subjects? And what do they have in common, even if the subjects are different?
I think photography is a way to understand the outside world and to know people. This energy happened in a mutual way, intertwined when the moment I click my camera. It was a wonderful collision in which both parties gain energy from the other person. All my subjects are beautiful, brave, honest and real, they give me a lot of inspirations.
ーThe words 'raw' and 'intimate' are often used to describe your photographs. I think this is due to the distance between you and your subjects. Is there anything that you value in your interaction with your subjects? We would also like to know if you have any stories related to the distance between you and your subjects.
I think honest and real expressions and complete release of emotion are very important. When my subjects expose them and their lives to me, or tell me their stories, for so many moments I was very touched and I find those moments very precious.
ー 10 years in the 'Girls' . And the 'Youth'. Over this long period, society and the environment have changed rapidly. Have there been any changes in your subjects over that long period of time? And are there any aspects that have remained the same?
From shooting girls to shooting also boys and LGBTQ groups, I find the world and people’s lives more diverse as the society evolves. We are more able to be ourselves and express ourselves. What stays unchanged might be the honesty and realness.
ー You have said in previous 'Girls' interviews that your models sort of reflected your own search for identity.If you like, you can tell us about your feelings and emotions when dealing with the models in the 'Youth'.
I feel more like an outsider when shooting “Youth”, I observe them from a more rational and objective view. Understanding the inner world and life style of the younger generation through photography was a fascinating exploration and a very interesting process.
ーWhen I look at your photos, I see a very cultural aspect to them, such as the urban landscape and the environment that surrounds your subjects. On the other side of the spectrum, in past interviews you have talked about the importance of being in touch with nature. 'Nature' and 'culture', these two words have opposite meanings in some areas. What are your respective views on 'nature' and 'culture'?
I hope nature and culture are shown as one in my works. I find nature very precious to us. Urbanisation brings more people to the city and a lot of primitive things from our origins are lost. We are part of nature and it is only in nature we can find the essence and truth of ourselves and the world.
ーThe keyword 'freedom' comes to mind when looking at your photos. It can be a longing for freedom, or it can be a self-expression of freedom. So I would like to ask you again: what do you associate with the word 'freedom'? And what are your thoughts about ‘freedom’?
I associate “freedom” with the essence of life, innocence and the world. I think freedom is to come back to original point, to where you start, unchanged and unaffected by the world, real and pure.
ー Last question, what is the most important thing you want to say to those who see your photos?
I hope my works bring people bravery and good energy, to be their real selves.
Luo Yang, born in 1984 in Liaoning Province in China's northeast, graduated from the prestigious Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang in 2009. Although she obtained a degree in graphic design, she decided instead to pursue her interest and talent in photography.
Having held numerous exhibitions in both China and beyond, Luo is well-acclaimed internationally and has been featured by ARTE, ZDF Aspekte, Spiegel Online and Le Figaro Interna-tional. In 2018, her monograph GIRLS was published to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the GIRLS photo-series. In the same year, BBC voted her among the 100 most inspiring women world-wide. In addition, she received the Jimeix Arles Women Photographer's Award in 2019. In Luo's work, highly staged portraits and carefully constructed poses alternate with a raw, blurred snapshot-aesthetic. She base in China and Paris.