All images by Li Ye. Used with permission.
Landscape photography has always been about immersing ourselves in nature’s grandeur first, and bringing home photos that serve as a reminder of the experience. It’s also the same for freelance photographer and writer Li Ye, who is based in one of the most sought after destinations among photographers: the mystic and majestic Tibet. Apart from scaling the region’s mountainous landscapes, he also explores other regions in China whose features best fit his minimalist style and creative approach of finding the nature of things in light and color. In this quick interview, Li Ye gives us an insight into what inspires him within and outside Tibet, how he developed his moody and minimalist style, and how he began his journey into landscape photography.
Phoblographer: Hello Li Ye! Can you tell us something about yourself and what you do?
Li Ye: I was born in 1975, and turning 43 this year. I’m a freelance photographer and writer. I take photos and record the stories behind them in words.
Phoblographer: How did you get into photography and discover the kind of photography that you make now?
Li Ye: I started photography seriously in about 2010. The original idea came from traveling, trying to record the unforgettable moments I encountered during my trips. I have been doing this as a professional for eight years now. My photography style comes from continuous learning and exploration. I feel like I have insight into finding the nature of things in light and color.
Phoblographer: Can you share with us what a typical shoot is like for you? Do you you scout locations first or just shoot as you travel or check out a new spot?
Li Ye: When shooting landscape, I often choose the location first, and then wait for the perfect light to appear. Of course, if I encounter an unforgettable moment during my trip, I will capture it.
Phoblographer: Tibet is one of the most inspiring places on earth for a landscape photographer. Do you still look or find for inspiration elsewhere for your work?
Li Ye: Of course. Different places always inspire me, and landscapes also change; I still find inspiration even in places I’ve already been.
Phoblographer: Looking at your Behance portfolio, there seems to be a jump into a more moody and sometimes minimalist quality to your work now. How did you get into this style?
Li Ye: I got into this style in phases. From rich colors to minimalist images, they’ve become part of my work because I am gradually attracted to the details of the things themselves. I like this abstract feeling.
“I once waited for light to fall on a glacier more than 5,000 meters above sea level. At that time, the temperature was very low and my body felt like it had zero temperature.”
Phoblographer: Was there ever a particularly challenging or unforgettable shoot that you did around your area? How did you get past it?
Li Ye: I once waited for light to fall on a glacier more than 5,000 meters above sea level. At that time, the temperature was very low and my body felt like it had zero temperature. Fortunately, I got the light I wanted.
Phoblographer: How do you see your work evolving in the next few years? Is there anything else that you wish to achieve with the style and kind of photography that you do?
Li Ye: I want to continue with photography and writing. I wish to become an influential photographer, telling stories with photos, and telling stories of how small and helpless human beings can be. I believe photography is the most direct and effective way. Because we are in a culturally diverse and information explosion age, we shall search for directions from the confusion. We must often ask ourselves, where we come from, where we will go, and what we can we do in the future.
Phoblographer: What do you consider to be the more important tools of a landscape photographer?
Li Ye: The love for nature.
Phoblographer: Lastly, what’s your advice for anyone who’s just getting started with landscape photography and is still to figure out their own style or vision?
Li Ye: Nowadays, digital equipment are getting better and becoming popular, but equipment is not the most important thing. To constantly ask questions, and question and think about your own creations, to maintain an independent vision and rational thinking in this confused world — these are what we really need to keep doing right now.
Do check out Li Ye on Behance to see more of his minimalist landscape photography and follow his work.