Freelancing in Shenzhen with Bruce Zheng

About a month ago I organized a prom party in China, and aside from having a blast and getting a ton of fun pictures, I noticed another photographer snapping away with a small camera (Ricoh GR Digital?) and off-camera flash. So I got his name card and checked out his website, of which I was rather impressed. Then I gave Bruce a call, and found that he had recently quit his office job in favor of photography – living the dream. As a Shenzhener, it’s interesting to see some of the familiar places that Bruce has shot commercially. And although he specializes in architectural work, I am quite taken which his portraiture. Be sure to check out his website, and browse the various galleries…

Name: Bruce Zheng (郑航天)

Hometown: Jilin  City, Changchun Province (吉林省长春市)

Tell us about yourself:

My hobbies are movies, camera stuff, and walking. Yes, just walking…

2010 Wild Coffee - Sunset © Bruce Zheng

How did you get started in photography?

After years of working in a company, I started to feel that routine work is against my nature. Only photography can keep my engine burning. I never get tired when I’m shooting things, so I quit my job and became a freelance photographer.

Favorite camera and lens? Why?

I’m using Canon 5D markII and 24-70mm L 2.8  most of the time, because of it’s large pixels and the wide range of this lens.

Grand Mercure Hotel © Bruce Zheng

If you could shoot anyone/anywhere/anything, what would it be?

Shooting old buildings is always my first choice. Italy would also be my choice. I have never been to this county, but the scenery in movies always attracts me very much, including the old buildings in the city and the people’s life in the countryside.

What’s your shooting style? Photographic influence?

I prefer shooting details or anything with a patterned feature. I like things with special shapes. So maybe that’s why I like shooting architecture. I started to learn photography in college. My major was advertising, and photography was one of our courses. I like Taiwan movies and they way they told stories. Those old buildings and streets are just the rhythm of the city. So I started to record the rhythm of cities where I lived and travelled. After working with off-camera flash, I found my favorite photographer – Joe McNally.

智者的私人拍摄 © Bruce Zheng

What’s your “off camera flash philosophy”?

I started shooting off camera flash not long ago, and I find it really fun and free. I believe light creates pictures, and any light is possible.

What’s it like being a freelance photographer in Shenzhen?

I seldom know other freelance photographers, but for me, I feel quite okay with myself. There are chances all around, just be ready for them!

MixC Shopping Mall © Bruce Zheng

Does working as a photographer take away from the joy of photography?

Not at all!  If I get the job shooting my favorite type, that’s great ~  If I met the bad customer, that will be a chance train my skills ~ (editor’s note: what a great perspective!)

What is the best thing about photography? Worst?

Best: It will change my way of knowing the world, in a better way of course.

Worst: After shooting models, when you meet normal humans, you won’t feel a thing, and that’s bad…(it was like a joke, but now I know it’s a bad joke   )

Chuck's Daughter © Bruce Zheng

What’s your most memorable shooting gig?

There was once an interview assignment I had with the Modern Weekly. I took pictures of a very famous Japanese artist, and the time was very limited. After I took about ten pictures, my CF card was full. But when I went to change to another one, there was none in my bag. My brain was exploding, but my face was calm. I had to continue the movements and finish the shoot, so I pretended to change the card but put nothing into the camera. And then, the show began. They just heard the sound of the shutter and “okay, that’s nice, good, one more…” I said to the artist, who didnt’ really know what was going on. After doing lots of PS work with only a few pictures, I finished the assignment. But this was a BIG LESSON.

What does the future hold for you?

I always consider myself as an architecture photographer, but I‘m planing to try to shoot more fashion photos in the future.
Here’s a few more great pictures from Bruce:

"After 19" © Bruce Zheng

智者的私人拍摄 © Bruce Zheng

2010 Wild Coffee © Bruce Zheng

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