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    Get To Know Oscar Zifang Wan: The Chinese Photographer, Artist, and Visionary

    Get To Know Oscar Zifang Wan: The Chinese Photographer, Artist, and Visionary

    Oscar Zifang Wan is a talented photographer who began his journey into the world of photography at an incredibly young age.

    While his peers were engrossed in games and toys, Oscar’s fascination gravitated toward the Leica camera, a tool he would use to explore the world with unparalleled curiosity. His photographs are characterized by their striking visuals and thought-provoking concepts.

    We interviewed Oscar about his upbringing, getting into photography, understanding sustainable practices, opening his own photo exhibition, favorite inspirations, advice for photographers, and much more!

    Where do you consider your artistic home?

    While I’ve traveled extensively and been inspired by various cultures and landscapes, my artistic home remains the place where my passion for sustainability first ignited: the farms and natural environments I visited during my formative years. It’s where the raw, unfiltered beauty of nature intertwined with the pressing issues of environmental conservation. That intersection, where the magnificence of our world meets the urgency to protect it, is where my heart and art truly reside.

    Is there a city, country, or neighborhood that inspired you to get into photography?

    While my hometown had its own unique charm and challenges that influenced my perspective on sustainability, it was during a visit to Shanghai, China, that my eyes were indeed opened to the global scale of environmental issues. As I observed the city’s skyline, I was struck by how the sky’s hue transitioned from a clear blue to a murky gray during peak hours, a stark testament to the impacts of vehicle exhaust. This observation compelled me to delve deeper. Through my independent research, I was heartened to discover China’s extensive efforts to combat air pollution. Yet, this led me to question: How are other nations addressing similar challenges? This curiosity fueled my passion further, prompting me to closely observe and document the environmental dynamics of every place I traveled to after that.

    How would you describe your photography style?

    When asked about my style and approach, I often describe it as ‘introspective realism.’ I’m driven to capture moments in their purest form, yet I’m equally intent on revealing the deeper narratives beneath every shot. This sometimes means waiting hours, days, or even repeatedly revisiting a location to get that perfect scene that encapsulates the story I aim to tell. In this process, I’ve sometimes encountered judgmental glances from those who find it challenging to adopt sustainable practices in their lives. Yet, I understand the resistance, the hesitations, and the barriers. Every photograph I take isn’t just an image; it’s a call for patience, understanding, and hope. It’s my aspiration that through my lens, I can gently promote the concept of sustainability, fostering change to enrich our lives and our planet. The journey isn’t just about capturing beautiful shots but about weaving narratives that inspire, resonate, and ultimately catalyze meaningful change.

    What was the first moment you began thinking about the Unveiling The Unseen exhibition?

    The genesis of “Unveiling the Unseen” occurred during a visit to a farm. I was profoundly struck by their innovative methods of transforming animal waste into biogas and repurposing crop residues into nutritious animal feed. Witnessing this delicate balance of animal welfare and eco-friendly production illuminated a stark contrast to less sustainable practices I’d observed elsewhere. This juxtaposition, of care and negligence, motivated me to capture these moments, hoping the images might resonate, perhaps even jolt, viewers into awareness. Through my lens, I wanted to emphasize the urgency of adopting greener lifestyles to ensure our planet’s longevity and health.

    How long did it take to put it together in total?

    The “Unveiling the Unseen” exhibition was a journey spanning over two years. From the initial seed of inspiration at the farm to the meticulous process of researching, revisiting locations, capturing the right moments, and finally curating the images to ensure they delivered the intended impact – it was an intensive and deeply personal journey. Every photograph showcased was a culmination of countless hours of patience, perseverance, and passion.

    Can you describe how you felt when the exhibition first opened?

    To be honest, I was awash in a whirlwind of emotions. Witnessing the culmination of years of dedication come to life gave me an undeniable sense of accomplishment. Alongside this pride, however, there was vulnerability; each photograph, while impactful, was just an image. I often found myself wishing I could do more than merely display them. Yet, above all, I was filled with hope. I aspired for every visitor to resonate with the narratives portrayed in the images, to be moved to contemplate our shared duty towards the environment and to depart with a rejuvenated commitment to a greener, more sustainable tomorrow. This exhibition also serves as an accelerator, assisting me in refining and integrating valuable feedback as I design my app, “Red Green Blue.”

    The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?

    Growing up, my biggest influence was undoubtedly my father. He’s been a relentless advocate for producing zero-carbon food and has always been committed to steering our society toward a greener future. His passion and dedication resonated deeply with me. Our frequent visits to farms exposed me to the intricate processes of sustainable agriculture — witnessing firsthand the remarkable efforts of individuals to harness biogas and responsibly manage animal waste. These experiences not only shaped my understanding of sustainability but also inspired me to capture these silent heroes’ stories. Photography, in my eyes, became the medium to echo my father’s message, showcasing the beauty and resilience of those working towards a sustainable world. Every frame I capture is a nod to my father’s vision and the invaluable lessons he imparted to me.

    What are you trying to translate in your work to those who see your photographs?

    From the very inception of this exhibition, my intention was clear: to instill an ethos of ‘carbon-smart, live greener’ in every visitor. This vision was birthed the moment they received the invitation. Designed as a postcard, crafted from environmentally-friendly materials, it was more than just an invite; it was a tactile embodiment of sustainability. I envisioned attendees appreciating its aesthetics, but also reflecting upon its utility, perhaps even reusing it by sending it forward to inspire someone else. Every facet of this exhibition, from the water served to the interactive design activities, hinges on the reuse and recycling of materials. Through this immersive experience, I hope visitors internalize a deeper message: sustainability isn’t just about big gestures, it’s rooted in our daily choices. I want them to leave with a sense of empowerment, realizing that every action, no matter how small, can contribute to a greener world.

    What are some photography secrets that you can share with our readers?

    One piece that deeply resonates with me is “Landscape Unplugged”. Its inception was during an unexpected electricity outage. Stripped of digital distractions, I ventured outside and was profoundly struck by the raw, unfiltered beauty of nature – a scene I’d often overlooked while engrossed in technology. It’s intriguing how we sometimes need to be ‘unplugged’ to truly see. The piece also pays homage to those who live traditionally, away from the allure of modern tech, who perhaps, appreciate these nuances of nature daily. While the advancements of modern society have provided us unparalleled conveniences, “Landscape Unplugged” serves as a poignant reminder of the simple, profound beauty that exists beyond our screens. The underlying message is clear: as we race forward in the age of technology, let’s not lose sight of the natural world around us. Because if we don’t prioritize sustainability now, we might one day find ourselves devoid of these natural wonders to marvel at.

    If you had to choose one lens to use forever, which one would it be and why?

    If I had to choose one lens to use forever, it would be the RF-S 18–45mm. Beyond its technical virtues – the ability to shift seamlessly from wide-angle to a zoomed perspective – it perfectly aligns with my sustainability ethos. The lens is versatile, allowing me to capture landscapes, street scenes, portraits, and even create vlogs to quickly share my observations with my audience. This adaptability means less need for frequent lens changes, reducing the environmental footprint associated with manufacturing multiple lenses.

    Using this singular lens not only conserves resources but also enables me to tell stories of our planet’s beauty and challenges with clarity. In a world where every choice we make impacts the environment, even my equipment selection becomes a statement of my commitment to sustainability. The RF-S 18–45mm, by minimizing my gear load, symbolizes a lighter footprint on our Earth while amplifying the stories I wish to share.

    What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

    Many might be surprised to know that beyond my passion for photography, I have a deep love for cooking. Exploring diverse and delicious cuisines isn’t just a pastime; it’s an exploration of sustainable living. As I experiment in the kitchen, I constantly consider how my culinary choices, from ingredient sourcing to preparation methods, can contribute to a lower carbon footprint. For me, every meal is an opportunity to blend taste and sustainability, echoing the same ethos I bring to my photography.

    What’s the best part of being a photographer?

    If I had to pinpoint the best part of being a photographer, it would be the privilege of capturing fleeting moments and immortalizing them, allowing us to transcend time. Photography grants me the unique ability to observe, understand, and communicate the myriad complexities of our world, both in its beauty and its challenges. Each snapshot tells a story, provokes a thought, or evokes an emotion. And in the context of my work on sustainability, photography becomes a powerful tool, enabling me to visually articulate the pressing need for change and inspire collective action.

    What photography or art-related motto, quote or words to live by helps keep you inspired? What should we look forward to?

    Ansel Adams used to say “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

    This speaks to the intention, creativity, and vision behind every shot. In a world overwhelmed with images, true artistry comes from crafting a message, not just capturing a moment. As for what’s on the horizon, expect more projects that delve deeper into the intricacies of sustainable living, bridging the gap between awareness and action, and more integrative ways to involve audiences in the narrative.

    Together, we can craft a brighter, greener future, one frame at a time.

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