Beijing-based photographer Wang Wei is best known for his extensive fashion editorial imagery, having racked up almost 25,000 followers on Instagram, but it is his personal series Young Wild & Free – shot entirely on 35mm analogue film – that truly caught our eye. Consisting of playful, colour-saturated images drenched in the bliss of youth, Young Wild & Free gives us an insight into the daily life of Wang Wei and his friends as they navigate the weird and wonderful moments of those coming-of-age in China.
“There was no theme or name for the series at the beginning,” Wang Wei tells It’s Nice That. “I started taking pictures of the young people around me and I realised as we all get older, it is so important for us to stay living in the moment.” His images capture the fun and silliness of being young – rolling around in a supermarket shopping trolly, dancing with friends on a rooftop overlooking the city – those moments when you feel, as he describes, the most “free and alive”. Titled, aptly, after the Snoop Dogg song Young Wild & Free the photographer counts this as his life’s motto, “I feel it is what I’m doing, how I’m living,” he says effervescently. “I took the song for the name of my series. Every moment related to freedom, youth and beauty are worth being photographed. Although the picture series is not moving, it is a flow of a story that is never replicable,” he explains.
Favouring analogue over digital in this series for it’s “touchable”, tangible element – likened by Wang Wei to us as humans, “never perfect, but real, naked and full of emotion,” his images resonate with those seemingly never-ending, balmy summer break days you felt most carefree. Film, as a medium, also helps Wang Wei to “block out the noise from outside and show [his] reality”. It’s important to him whilst taking pictures for this series “to avoid all photography techniques and technical experience [gained through fashion editorial photography] and use the camera just as a tool to record thoughts and feelings.”
Wang Wei has been Beijing based his whole life, “I love it here,” he says passionately. “I can really sense the culture crush; western and eastern; tradition and modern. The city is constantly changing; it gives me a lot of thoughts and creativity.” As for how long the series will continue, the photographer has a suitably ephemeral response: “Life is part of the art, unpredictable,” he muses. “You never plan how it goes, in the same way as you never know how it got started.”
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