“When I think of fruit, it reminds me of those large wholesale markets in small cities, like the ones I used to visit as a small child,” explains Shanghai-based photographer (and one-third of It’s Nice That Ones to Watch 2018, Same Paper) Xiaopeng Yuan. It was these memories that Xiaopeng drew from when shooting a recent campaign for Chinese fashion brand, JNBY.
Having worked with the brand for three years, JNBY approached Xiaopeng to shoot its recent collection. “They only told me it needed to be about fruit,” he explains, “there weren’t many limitations and they offered me a large degree of freedom.” With a single word as his starting point, Xiaopeng created a concept which drew on his childhood memories, channelling them into a fashion context.
The resulting images are carefully composed, balancing the manic mass of shapes that is a market perfectly. “I love how the fruits are shadowed and cut by the awnings under the sun, and the blocks of colour magically blend,” Xiaopeng explains of memories he recalled as a visual start point. “The mens faces were covered with sweat and oil, the women were yelling and people were constantly arguing for a bargain. Those memories are still vivid to me.”
For his series, Xiaopeng found a similar market in a small city near Shanghai. “It was all temporary, we didn’t even check the location in advance, we just turned up with the models who were wearing the clothes and walked into the dirty, messy streets of the market,” he says. “The vendors were so curious that they gathered around meaning the shoot was crowded and lively.” Xiaopeng’s photos embody this energy, with scenes shot from above giving a sense of drama, and more intimate moments making use of the geometric shapes of the awnings, boxes and lorries.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.