~ PREFACE 前言 ~
2020 is a test, isn’t it? It’s an endurance test and a self-acceptance test. But it’s a test we all don’t want to take again anytime soon. There’s no correct answer. Only “good enough” answer. I’ve submitted mine, slowly over the year. And I know it’s good enough for me.
Yes, it’s good enough. Enough to make me come this far. Entering the 4th year of my professional photography journey, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned and am still learning is to accept who I am, as a photographer, a creative and more importantly a person.
~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH 还不够好 ~
You see, I grew up with very loving parents and am blessed beyond my imagination as I’m surrounded by super supportive friends. But somehow, I know there’s something about me that I don’t feel quite enough. And this feeling has drowned me with the guilt of not acting soon enough and generally just not good enough. I’ve always blamed myself for it and thought it’s my own fault. But is it?
2020 has given me the perfect opportunity to reflect, to respond and to reborn. I know I have to go back to the source and find out my upbringing and my childhood to understand why I feel “not good enough”. I’m lucky that I’ve starting to dig out more and more answers. One of the answers is that I wasn’t connecting with myself intimately and the fear of showing my vulnerability has buried my potentials deep in the shields that I’ve built over the 30 something years. What am I talking about? Read on. I hope sharing this can be helpful to you in your creative journey, whether you believe you’re a creative or not. The least I’m getting out of sharing this is a confirmation that I know I’m no longer ashamed of myself and my past. It’s time to move on to realize those unrealized potentials.
2020 年给与我一次反思、回应还有重生的绝佳机会。我知道必须得到根源，回忆我的童年和成长经历才能彻底弄清为什么我会觉得 “还不够好”。幸运的是我已经开始挖掘出越来越多的答案了。其中一个便是过去以来我并没有紧密地与自己相接连。而且恐惧展现自己脆弱的一面。这样一来，我把自己的潜力完全包裹在30多年积累下来的一层层护甲之下。我在说些什么？接下来我们继续探讨。我希望通过分享这些内心的变化也能够帮助你的创作生涯，不论你觉得自己是否是创作人。对我来说，分享这些能够确认我已经不再对自己和过往感到羞辱。是时候往前走走，要去把那些潜力一个个发掘出来了。
~ OVERCOMING BULLYING 战胜欺凌 ~
I remember the memories of the school years are shadowed by my overweight issue. I was 92kg at my peak and I wasn’t that tall or athletic. My overweight issue is just a matter of health. I ate too well and didn’t exercise much. But it’s the constant verbal bullying from other kids and sometimes even from teachers affect me the most. Later on, the experience manifested in my head and I developed low self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Guess what, it even went under the radar of my parents until this year when I opened up to them and revealed the struggles that I was dealing with. You see, I hid it so well and even fooled my own parents… The shield is as thick as the great wall, but not without loopholes.
我还记得学生时代是笼罩在肥胖的阴影下度过的。我最重的时候达 92 公斤，但我并不高也不是体育生。其实我肥胖本身就是一个简单的健康问题。吃喝过多，运动太少。但是来自其他同学，有时候甚至来自老师们，不断的言语欺凌给我带来的伤害最大。后来，这样的经历在我心理上演变成一种低自尊自信的问题。这些都还躲过了我父母的雷达，直到今年我敞开心怀给他们讲诉自己的成长经历。你看，是我把这些心理上的曲折深藏起来，瞒过了父母。可想我的护甲有多厚，但是并不是无孔不穿的。
I believe the fastest way to put the shields down is by opening up, completely and gently, to the ones you can trust. I find that opening myself up to a dedicated group of caring and open-minded strangers helps quite a bit as no one knows me enough to pass judgement on me. Many of them just nodded their heads with understanding looks after I shared my stories. That’s already a big step forward! Gradually, by opening up to close friends as well, I realize I actually have nothing to lose. In fact, I’ve gained more confidence in speaking up for myself and my needs and for sharing the struggles I’ve had. And you know what, I’m not alone in this journey and I’ve got help. To initiate the process, I recommend watching Brené Brown’s TED Talks on "showing vulnerability", on which she's got some very helpful messages.
我认为把护甲放下最快的方式就是通过完全地但温柔地与可信之人分享了。与一群有爱心同情心的陌生人打开分享也可行。因为他们与自己并不亲近，这样免去了他们给自己作出评价褒贬的机会。听完我的故事后他们只是理解地点点头。这样多我来说已经是向前迈了一大步了！慢慢地，我也向身边的好朋友们打开心窗，才发现其实这对自己没有任何的损失。相反，我为自己和自己的需求说话，分享自己的斗争，我从中得到了更多的自信。要知道在这场斗争中，我并不是独自一人，我也得到过他人的帮助。迈出第一步，我建议看看 Brené Brown 的 视频。她对展示 “脆弱” 这一话题有一些非常有帮助的信息。
~ NO MORE MR. NICE GUY 不再是好好先生 ~
In 2017, I quit the office job as I realized I was “marrying” myself to the job in the hope that I’d gain something equal in return. Nope, that didn’t happen. I was trying so hard pleasing the boss in return for job security. This concept was also “geniusly” applied to my personal life, especially love life. In order to please my romantic partners, I submitted myself to satisfy their needs and ignored my own most of the time. Nice guy, right? Nah, more like nice try! I wasn’t able to gain long-lasting connection with many partners. The main problem? I had little personal boundaries, unless someone really pushed me to the wall and threatened to take my life away.
2017 年我辞去了白领工作，因为我认识到自己其实在和工作 “结婚”，以求得到与自己付出同等的回报。想得真美，哪有这样的好事。为保住饭碗，我努力地满足老板。这种处事方式也同样在我个人生活中，特别是爱情生活中， “顺利地” 应用起来了。为了取悦伴侣，大多数情况下我都会不顾自己的需求，为的是满足她们的需求。好好先生，不是么？实际上，是我想得太好！我并没有能够因此与大多数伴侣建立长久的关系。主要问题是？我不了解自己的底线，除非某个人把我推到墙边，想要我的命。
I knew that if I didn’t take action right away, the cycle would repeat forever till I died. Not getting what I wanted made me search for help. I came across this book called “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Robert A. Glover. It’s a revolution to me, because so much of the book describes fits what I’ve experienced. For example, almost always I’d sacrifice myself to meet others’ needs or expectations, in the hope that they’d understand what a sacrifice I made for them so that they’d return the favor and eventually I’d get what I want. But almost always, it didn’t work as I expected it would. Then, I got very disappointed and frustrated, because I didn’t connect with my own feelings and blindly put my needs and wants aside. You can only image how it could affect one’s personal and professional life?
我认识到如果再不行动，这样的恶性循环会一直持续到我走为止。得不到我想要的促使我向周围寻找帮助。在这个过程中我接触到一本由 Robert A. Glover 写的 “No More Mr. Nice Guy” 的书。读过这书真是让我恍然大悟，因为书中描写的和我所经历的非常相似。比如说，很多情况下我会牺牲自己来满足他人的需求或是期望，以换取他人懂得自己的牺牲后来满足我的需求。但大多数情况下这完全行不通，我也变得极为失望和沮丧，因为我没有处理好与自己的关系，把自己的需求和欲望盲目地放在了一边。你可以想象这样做对一个人的个人和职业生活的影响了吧？
But no one’s told me these super basic yet important stuffs in life, that I need to work on satisfying my own needs first and it’s okay being open and honest about my feelings to others. School of course didn’t teach me that and before this year my parents didn’t even know about what I’ve been through. I had to search the answers myself after years of painful failures on both achieving professional and personal goals. To get to where I am now, the journey was definitely a little too long and with too many detours. But hey, I’m happy that I took the time to look back and reflect just in time. It’s never too late, in fact. Now equipped with these hard-earned understandings, I hope to become someone I wish was there for me when I grew up and when I needed the guidance.
~ PHOTOGRAPHY AS A THERAPY 摄影疗法 ~
Now to the beef. What role does photography play in helping me getting the professional and personal lives I’ve always wanted? My parents sent me abroad when I was 19. After a decade away from my home country, I decided that it’s time to return and see what’s happening at home. I chose Shanghai as I remembered it being awesome the last time I visited. So in 2014 I moved to the city with two suitcases. With much reverse culture shock, I struggled to find relevance. I’ve organized speakers’ events, sold coffee beans, given food tours, and guided students to different places in China. But nothing come close to what photography can offer me in return, especially when it comes to street photography.
来说说同等重要的东西吧。摄影在我个人与事业上的追求中扮演着什么样的角色呢？在我 19 岁的时候，父母把我送出国留学。10 年在外，我决定是时候回家看看了。选择上海是因为上次来访时觉得这座城市真心不错。2014 年就带着两个行李箱回国了。逆向文化冲击自然少不了，同时也为适应生活挣扎了一段时间。我组织过演讲活动，卖过咖啡豆，做过吃货导游，也带过学生游走神州大地。但从没有任何事情可以与摄影所带给我的相提并论，特别是街头摄影。
I feel completely immersed in a different world while capturing the moments. Watching and anticipating what’s going to happen next, I forget about time and that internal voice telling me "I can’t do it and I can't be it" is completely gone. Yea, screw that voice! You see, this feeling allows me to create freely and document what I see through the lens. By giving myself the permission to indulge in the moments, I satisfy my own needs. The need is to create without anybody, including myself, telling me what I can or can not. The results? Simply raw and beautiful!
捕捉瞬间让我完全沉浸在另外一个世界。凝视等待紧接着要发生的，让我忘记了时间，也忘记了那个告诉 “我不行，我不可能” 的消极声音。一边玩去吧，消极声音！就是这种感觉让我自由地创作并记录透过镜头的所有一切。就是凭借我给自己的一张享受瞬间的许可证，我先满足了自己的需求。这个需求就是去创作，而不需要任何人，包括我自己，告诉我可以还是不可以。那拍摄的结果呢？是不经加工的纯和美！
It’s these results confirm that my pursue in photography is the right choice. I gain more and more confidence in what I do as more and more people see my works and give me their confirmations. But most importantly, through practicing photography, I’ve gradually understood what I need to do is to satisfy my own needs. It’s this self-assurance help me realize my own value. I now charge more than 10 times what I charged when I first started photography professionally. Sure, my skill wasn’t where I’m now when I first started, so I couldn’t charge what I do now. But it’s more than just monetary value, it’s the realization from within – I know I’m worthy and I can be who I want to be!
就是这些结果让我认识到选择摄影是对的。越来越多的人也对我的作品表示肯定，因此我获得越来越多的自信。但最重要的是，我现在知道应该做些什么来满足自己的需求了。也是因为有了这样的自信和自知让我认识到自己的价值。我现在的收费是我刚开始专业摄影的 10 倍还多。当然，当时我的摄影技术和现在的不可同日而语。但这是金钱不可替代的，因为我现在认识到自己存在的价值，也知道自己可以成为自己所希望成为的了！
~ JOIN MY JOURNEY 加入我的旅程 ~
I don’t know what a photography session can achieve for you. Now you see what photography means to me and if you like what you see in my works, I ask that you join me in this photographic journey. Let’s be honest to each other and create something that us and our next generations will want to savor and hold on to. And let me invite you to my studio. This my home, your home and our home.
My Studio - Ready for Your Visit
我的工作室 - 等待你的到访
My Studio - Ready for the Next Boudoir Session
我的工作室 - 等待拍摄下一个私房照体验
*** Special thanks to Nika Dulevich for taking the handsome photos of me! ***
*** 特别感谢 Nika Dulevich 为我拍的帅帅的照片！***
~ ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER ~
Linfeng Li, an overseas returnee from Hawaii with a background in hospitality. Originally born in Guizhou and grew up in Guangdong. Li is specialized in documentary style photography. When he's not doing commissioned work, you can find him roaming the lanes taking street photography. Follow his IG: @braddahli @linfengliboudoir & @linfengliphotography.
~ 关于摄影师 ~
李临风，夏威夷海归，旅游业背景。是在广东长大的贵州人。擅长记录式摄影。当他不为客户拍照时，你能在街上看到他压着马路捣鼓街头摄影。来看看他的 IG 吧：@braddahli @linfengliboudoir & @linfengliphotography。