It’s no secret that I’m seriously infatuated with art and photography, especially when created by self-identifying women (no discrimination, I’ve interviewed Male artists too!) and so, when I find one that particularly inspires me, I like to grab them for a quick Q&A and feature them here! So, for this months ‘Rookie Girl’ feature, Mandy Wu is gracefully in the spotlight and taking centre stage. I came across the stellar photographer through I-D magazine’s ‘young talent’ page, where she humbly showcased her photos for all the members to see. Almost immediately, Mandy was met with a wave of like and love reacts, compliments and collaboration requests; one in which, were from me.
Woven with detail and bursting with colour, the photographer’s landscape photography and poignant still-life portraits depict poetry and stories that make you feel like you’re experiencing an old memory that you never had. Inspired by Zhang Jiacheng and his stylised documentary, Mandy Wu found herself mesmerised by the colour drenched dreamscapes “my life philosophy, my fantasy about love, my observation of the world- is my inspiration!” She muses.
When did you began taking photos?
I started taking photos during the first year of my university while doing my bachelor in history. So it’s been around 6 years!
Why did you begin taking photos?
My dad gave me a camera as my birthday gift. I started playing with it since then. I always want to capture a moment and let it live forever and taking picture enables me to do that.
What or who is your biggest muse?
My biggest muse now is Zhang JiaCheng. I just discovered him at the end of last year but I really enjoy his portraits. Each one of them is like painting.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from films, my life philosophy, my fantasy about love, my observation of the world!
How would you describe your style of photography?
I have always found it hard to describe my style. I guess my style is a bit cinematic, nostalgic, dreamy and sometimes sensual.
Exactly what is it you want to say with your portraits and photography?
I think I just want my photographs to make people feel how I feel. Sometimes others will see my work and feel something completely different, which is also what I love so much about photographs. They make people feel, and sometimes the feelings can’t be described by words.
How do you get your photography to say what you want it to?
By being genuine and honest. Feel it all and express it all.
What type of camera and lens do you use? If you use more than one, what is your favourite? And why?
I use both digital and analog cameras. I use 35mm, 45mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses. My favourite is my contax g2 and its 45mm lens. It’s easy to focus and make solid. Since I travel often and take lots of portraits, I find 45mm to be a perfect lens for me!
What made you decide to pursue photography as a full time career?
I love photography and I want to devote my time and energy into it. It was also a hard decision because I didn’t know if I could support myself with it. Even until now I struggle sometimes with not being able to have the freedom to create fully in order to meet the clients’ needs.
What motivates you to make art and photography?
To be able to express myself through art and photography.
What is the best and worst thing about being an artist?
The best part is the freedom of creating. The worst part for me is when there’s no inspiration and feeling stuck in a place with no energy motivation creating. It happens sometimes and I never know when to expect it.
How do you educate yourself to take better photographers?
Reading lots of books, watching heaps of movies, listening to songs, etc. For me, it’s all about feelings. I sometime look at other photographers’ work and try to understand what’s the reason that I find one certain piece of work so intriguing.
Talk to me about your “Wasted Youth” portrait photos.
During the time when I was studying in Milan, there’s a cultural centre called Macao, an abandoned slaughterhouse, that I went to every weekend. This is a documentary project about the place, which has transformed me in lots of different ways. The place feels free and liberated. I found a missing piece of myself there.
Talk us through your ‘Duo’ collection in the portrait gallery section of your site.
I met these two when I was in Milan. They were really cute together when I met them so I thought it’d be really great to document the feelings they have for each other. We chose the location and the outfits together. The light was perfect on that day and I’m really happy with the results.
Your “Beautiful Imperfect” project is stunning, tell us about the process of creating that.
Thank you! Those photographs are little pieces that I have collected over the years from my travels since I was 20. I hope I can keep on travelling and adding more to the project.
You’ve previously said “Oftentimes, photographs has the power to bring back those long-lost feelings, be it joy or sadness. Through my works, I try to make those feelings tangible so that people can relive those moments again. ”– why is it so important to you for to keep memories? I think it’s all because I’m a very nostalgic person. I often look back at memories. Probably because I’m not living at the present but anyway I find it really interesting how a photograph can be so powerful to bring back those lost and forgotten feelings even just for a second.
It is also mentioned that you decided to pursue your passion for photography in Italy. Why did you decide to go there? Do you get a different feeling every time you enter a another country? Does each new country bring something new to your work?
I used to live in Umbria and during the time I worked there as an au-pair. I travelled to many different towns in Italy. I found the country full of history and beauty. The place inspired me to take more pictures. The country also put lots of effort into restoration of historical buildings. After going back to Taiwan, I started taking Italian class. After I graduated from university, I felt like Italy would be a good place for studying art since It was easy for me to find inspiration around me and it could also help me improve my Italian.
Yes, I do! Not even just another country but a new place tends change my feeling drastically. When I’m in a new place, I become more sensitive and more observant and I end up having more motivation and inspiration to take pictures. I remember during the time when I was living in Yangon, Myanmar, I was very intrigued by the dark old streets in the old town of Yangon and I did a series on the different colours of neon lights there. Definitely brings lots of new perspectives to my work but at the same time, I’m also trying to be observant in the place I’m living, which can be quite difficult at times as everyday the life becomes pretty much the same.
Is there a general message behind your work? Are you challenging the ‘male gaze’ or anything of the sort?
I’m often told that my work has warmth in it. Maybe that’s the general message I want people to see subconsciously.
What is the ultimate goal with photography? What do you hope to achieve in 5 years time?
I hope I get to create freely without any limits and I can bring something to people, the people around me as well as those that don’t know me personally.
in 5 years time, I’d be 30! I hope I will be an artist that can touch more mediums of arts and express myself through them. I also hope to be able to share and create with like-minded people from different places in the world. Hopefully I can also make some music for my photographs or vise versa.
What quote motivates you most to keep going?
Bill Evans, ”My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise… a part of yourself you never knew existed”.
All work copyright © Mandy Wu
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