is a master when it comes to extraordinary and breath taking landscapes. At first, when I got his interview, I was amazed by his title: 'To be a mountain'. But reading his answers it didn't surprise me any more. Born and raised in the mountains, his passion for them is endless. His soul belongs there it can be seen in each of his images that he has a unique and special spiritual connection with mountains.
Let us be immersed by the majestic beauty of mountains while wandering through his portfolio and learn more about this great artist and the man behind his work.
Dear Selions, briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
Hello everyone on 1X, greetings from China, this is Lei Chen. I’m from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, a city well-known for panda, hot pot and leisure lifestyle, but what attracts all Chinese landscape photographers is the unique and mysterious mid-west scenery here, and Sichuan is getting more and more fans from other parts of the world.
Currently, I’m an amateur landscape photography enthusiast and the cooperative photographer of Phase One China. Hope 1X can help me unveil the splendid mid-west scenery of China to the world, and welcome you all to Sichuan Province to get a immersive experience of the nature and hopefully go home with some unforgettable shoots.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I have been out-dooring since I was 18, mostly hiking and camping in remote but very beautiful places of west Sichuan Province. But not until the year of 2010 did I bought my first DSLR, cause it would be a pity if such breath-taking views are not recorded. And this is where the shooting started, together with a dear friend of mine.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
In the first few years of photographing, I find myself with poor aesthetic perception and lame post editing skills, so you can imagine how would my photos be like……then I dug into all great photos I can find online to learn from others, this is also when I came across websites like Flickr, 500px 35 photo and of course 1X.
What first attracted you to photography?
The ability photos has to convey my ideas with factors, composition and colours. Yes, the ideas can be roads I walked on, songs I listened, movies I watched, and even ups and downs in my life, all kinds of feelings and thoughts can be expressed through photos. I hope that viewers of my photos can relate to my works, then have this spiritual connection and resonance with me.
Why are you so drawn by landscape photography ?
Because I was born and raised in mountains, I feel that my soul belongs here. That’s why I decide to come back again when I grow up, to see, to feel, to remember.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I believe that photography techniques nowadays are very mature and advanced no matter shooting in earlier stage or post production skills; and this is also one of the topics I would discuss with my friends the core factor of a successful photo, and we all agree that photo with its own “story and background” is the most attractive one even if it’s a landscape shoot.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I mainly use full-frame or medium format cameras.
But currently I enjoy using PHASE ONE camera more for landscape shoots. For it provides high quality graphics with light-weight XT camera, and the built-in Frame-Averaging technology freed me from heavy ND lens.
What software do you use to process your images?
As for single shoot, I normally use Capture ONE to process, but when it comes to retouching and stitching,
I would use Photoshop cc.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I think shooting in earlier stage is very important, and I would say it’s the most important part.
Firstly, for most of my shoots, I try to go to the shooting spot in advance for prior checking, find the perfect camera position.
Secondly, I try to reach the destination at a perfect timing (for example sunrise, sunset or when the Milky Way is visible).
Thirdly, after shooting, I usually finish the final retouching at home. If the RAW photo is desirable enough, there will be little to adjust.
But all of these rely on thorough prior preparation.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
In 2017, my friend Fan Yang and I went to Er er ze e in MianNing county. The fierce wind all night almost tore our tent apart. On the next morning, my tripod was blown over accidentally, then I got a lens that cracked into 2 parts and so did my heart. Sad story……
But finally I got this shoot in return, hope it can cure my broken heart.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Firstly, there are many secluded but beautiful places in west China (including Sichuan Province and Tibet), I hope to explore the unknown areas, and find amazing scenery. If you are curious about the mysterious land as I do, please do join me!
Secondly, currently we have a group called Crazy horse outdoor club, mainly focusing on outdoor expedition and public service activities. And we hold environmental protection activities annually for volunteer work as well, for example the environmental protection activity in GeNie mountain this year (2020), we took many photos and videos trying to evoke people’s attention and affection towards nature; I hope there will be more people joining us in the future.
By the way, 1x member is one of us.
Thirdly, I hope that I can post more mountain related shoots on 1X in the future for nature lovers all over the world. I will go deep into the mountain more, close to mountain,and try to be a mountain.
Wayne Pearson PRO
Hi Yvette, and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you and all those you love. Thank you for bringing us this outstanding display of Lei Chen's magnificent landscapes and his story, such an inspiration. All the best Wayne Pearson
Happy new year! Thank you very much my friend!
Mei Xu PRO
Amazing shots. Love all of them. Congrats!
Miro Susta CREW
Interesting interview, splendid photographs. Well done indeed. Many thanks Yvette and Lei Chen. Greetings to Chengdu, I visited several times in the past.
Thanks for your appreciation, dear Miro!
Thank you Miro! Welcome to China and Chengdu again!
No thanks Xibiao ... All pleasure was mine to present a great photographer to our readers who didn't know him yet!!!
Thank you so much for your fine collaboration and congratulations, Selions. I really enjoyed this interview. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you Yvette!