Hasselblad Heroine 2023
CAPTURING ELEGANCE THROUGH THE LENS
Merging aesthetics and styles from East and West, Li Guo's photographic odyssey is a captivating tale of cultural fusion and artistic innovation. With the camera as her medium, she intricately weaves the tapestry of tradition into her visual narratives.
In her enchanting series, 'Dreams in the Garden,' she masterfully blends the beauty of the East with modern aesthetics, carving out a new style. Li Guo's artistry not only reflects her deep appreciation of her heritage but also her commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity.
A JOURNEY FROM TWO HISTORICAL CITIES TO PHOTOGRAPHY
Raised in Beijing before graduating from Rome's Academy of Fine Arts, Li Guo has had extensive experience living in two ancient capitals. Her early years in Beijing immersed her in the rich tapestry of Chinese culture, surrounded by the historical grandeur of the Forbidden City and the tranquil beauty of the Summer Palace.
Years later, her academic pursuit led her to Rome, where she delved into the history of one of the western world’s oldest cities. The contrast between these two iconic places ignited her curiosity and it was there that she discovered her passion for photography.
“When I was in school, I always liked to take photos of my friends. Then one day, I felt that I would be really happy if I could do this for the rest of my life.”
When she arrived back in China, Li Guo got her first job in the industry. “I really wanted to do a job that I liked, and so I decided to intern in a photographer's studio. While doing post-production work, I learned about commercial photography lighting. When others were taking pictures, I would just watch from the side. I spent my weekends practicing and, after slowly accumulating a body of work, I started to work as an independent photographer.”
FINDING A PASSION FOR FASHION
From a young age, Li Guo exhibited a deep affinity for the world of fashion, even if it was with childhood heroes. Growing up with a fascination for the artistry of clothing, she naturally gravitated towards the realm of fashion photography.
“I think a person’s love for fashion may start in childhood. When I was little, I loved drawing fashion illustrations and drawing Sailor Moons. I also tried to create new Sailor Moons and designed clothes and magic wands for them. I really painted a lot during my summer vacations.”
“It’s just that when I grew up, I changed my creative tools from paintbrushes to cameras!”
For those thinking about going into fashion photography, Li Guo believes it’s about your passion for the subject – and if this is clear in your mind, you’ll be able to experiment in a way that feels authentic to you. “I think there is no threshold for fashion photography itself - you can shoot whatever you want and whatever you like!
“Everyone can be a fashion photographer, as long as you love it. Bill Cunningham, the master of street and fashion photography, is a great example of this.”
DREAMS IN THE GARDEN
In her series 'Dreams in the Garden,' Li Guo incorporates the beauty of the East into her portraiture work, exploring the harmonious fusion of traditional Chinese aesthetics with a modern context.
"I hope to present a new Chinese style of colour through my works. I don't like to directly put all traditional elements together. Instead, I prefer to excavate the traces of traditional elements in the modern environment, amplify them, and present them to you: 'Look, this is our Chinese culture in trend. It's stylish, beautiful, and not stuck in the past.'"
Taking a place as simple as a park and turning it into a place of beauty, grace and the perfect accessory for a shoot highlighting creative fashion is not by chance – she takes a special liking to photographing her subjects within this setting.
"Parks always remind me of my childhood. They are full of inspiration from Chinese aesthetics. Walking into a park, a myriad of images and stories begin to emerge in my mind.
"I use contrasting colours to present the scene if I want the character to be noticeable at first glance. Sometimes, I also use analogous colours to deliberately blend the characters with the background to create a different ambience."
When capturing such stunning details and a colour palette that needs to be true to life, Li Guo turns to her Hasselblad X2D.
"My first year in the industry, I knew I was going to own a Hasselblad one day,” she explained. “The delicate colour and texture delivered by X2D are exactly what I need for my creations. The camera's weight is also extremely friendly and gives me more creative freedom."
CONNECTING WITH YOUR AUTHENTICITY
Just as inspiration flows naturally when roaming a park, Li Guo believes the unique experiences and insights people carry eventually organically brings forth their unique perspective. Explore outwardly and delve inwardly – this is her best advice for women delving into the world of photography. The formation of a personal style will come naturally.
"Everyone has a unique perspective due to different experiences. I've seen a lot of female photographers creating and achieving self-fulfilment in their comfort zones.
“So, don't let anyone tell you what you should capture. It's far more important to stay passionate and let photography be your companion in the state you feel most comfortable in, rather than painstakingly pursuing an unsuitable style."
For Li Guo, inspirational photographers are all around and she is constantly inspired by those in the fashion industry. “When I first became obsessed with fashion photography, I was very fond of Tim Walker's portraits, which had a lot of influence on my early creations.
“Artists I have always liked in recent years include Alexandra Von Fuerst, Adeolu Osibodu and Chiron Duong.”