A short statement about the work
Photography came late in my life even though I was given a camera at the age of 13, along with a simple set of enlarger and trays for a darkroom. Only after years of career in science and research, around the year of 2005, which coincided with my moving to Maine, I became more focused in photography. Now, I cannot imagine life without it.
Like painters who need to find subject and the calling, photographers face same challenges. Jay Maisel, a mentor in my early years, encouraged me to take photographs with people in it. Light, color, and gesture, were the three vitally important components, which gives characters to his people photographs. Sam Abell, another mentor, encourages us to focus on people, who are the important element in a photograph that gives life to a place. Compose and wait-like his father taught him.
I love people. Which is why I enjoy photography. Meantime, I am also terrified of taking people’s photograph. Like in all things uncertain and unknown, taking picture of people is on top of my list. Just as one could not run away from his or her own shadow, I end up finding myself not able to stop photographing people even though I am terrified of doing so. I think it is about capturing people in their ordinary daily life, that lies something which is honest and true, something uplifting, something with beauty and strength, something that gives me a kind of satisfaction and attraction that keeps me going back from time to time, continuously seek and photograph those moments that is there waiting to be captured and revealed to remind us who we are.
Photography is about life. It is very helpful, if not essential, to understand the part of life that I photograph. The rhythmus of life, I may say, will bring me to the right place, and hopefully, at the right time. This can be reflected in my photos in Monhegan Island.
Gaining trust, which is essential when photograph people with their knowledge. I am still a student on this. I do not have answers, but I think if one approach people with sincerity and genuineness, people can feel it and will respond in kind. “Dignity”, a portrait of three high school kids that I met on a beach in an overcast quiet afternoon, is a good example illustrating this point. I asked them showing me being proud of who they are, showing dignity and strength, they transformed from typical laughing teenagers, amused by my asking them to cover themselves with sand, into a portrait of showing just that, DIGNITY. It’s by this image that I will forever remember them.
In the end, it’s not about camera; it’s about being open. It’s about compassion.
Photography took me out to the field and world. Not only has it taught me keeping my eyes open, it also taught me keeping my mind open. Photography has enriched my life that I do not know how to achieve in any other ways. I hope in a small way, it may help you do the same.
A selection of Ni Rong’s work will be exhibited in SEVEN PHOTOGRAPHERS – opening Friday September 6th, 2019