Behind the Image – Feng Li went from civil servant to shooting for Vogue

Behind the Image is an ongoing series taking a more personal look at both established and emerging creative talent.

Self portrait courtesy Feng Li

Feng Li

Hometown: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Based: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Represented by: Concrete Rep Limited (London)

How would you describe your work? What’s your trademark?
My work is derived from the moments in life, these moments that look imperfect and unbelievable, I record them and ask myself questions. I started my series of White Nights in 2005, this series defines my belief that absurdity and beauty coexist.

How did you get into your chosen career?
I became a full-time photographer from being a photography enthusiast. In addition to luck, I think it is more because of my love for taking pictures.

What other jobs have you had?
Government officer.

What have you watched/heard/read lately that has inspired you?
Not long ago when many cities were closed due to the coronavirus, wild animals would appear on the streets of the city. Their carefree appearance made me feel that this world does not belong to us alone.

What do you love about what you do?
I like all work related to photography.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced professionally?
Finding the imperfect moment in perfection.

What’s one thing outside of your work that you would like people to know about you?
I have three cats, a big pig, and a bird.

Who do you think is one to watch?
I prefer to observe in life. Life is most worthy of our attention.

courtesy Feng Li

During a short trip, there were few pedestrians in the town at night. The red light from a barbershop across the road caught my eye, as I approached the shop I saw an old man sitting in the chair getting a perm. He had a serious look, just like the Buddha I saw in the temple, but it was strange as there was not much hair on the old man’s head.

courtesy Feng Li

I greeted the Chinese New Year at my friend’s house, their daughter lit the fireworks and danced. The fireworks in my hand drew a beautiful arc in the night sky and at that moment I pressed the shutter.

courtesy Feng Li

A young man smokes an electronic cigarette in the corridor. The thick smoke flew out of his mouth like a ball of cotton, just like a flying acrobat.

courtesy Feng Li

Ten years ago a parrot flew into the window of my bedroom, it looked at me quietly, we got on straight away! Later it became one of my family members. One day it flew over the chandelier in my study to play, it looked down towards me and spread its wings as if it stretched out its arms to embrace me.

courtesy Feng Li

Three girls in sunglasses stood in front of a crane machine, trying their luck. They looked retro and fashionable. This was shot on the commercial street of the city, where you can see many fashionable young people. I like to observe them here.