National Geographic publishes a new book titled Belt and Road, its first photo book of a Chinese photographer. The photographer, Eddy Li, embarked on a long journey to countries along the route from the Belt and Road Initiative and recorded the activities there with his lenses. He presents some of the highlighted photos in a charity exhibition at Sotheby’s gallery in Hong Kong. The Value talks to Eddy Li and National Geographic about this collaboration.
Dr. Eddy Li, President, Hong Kong Economic & Trade Association
Q: You have been to so many places, which is the most memorable?
Li: If you are talking about China, I like Tibet and Tibet’s clear skies in the high altitudes. It’s a place full of vibrant colours and strong religious elements. You seldom see Lamas in yellow hat here in Hong Kong. It’s quite an interesting place.
Arg of Karim Khan in Iran
Li: Iran is nice too. People always worry about the safety of Iran but I found it a great place for travelling. The locals are very welcoming and cheerful. Their smiles are sincere and genuine. Ukraine was great, where you can see lots of military things, like aircraft carriers, combustion engines, heavy equipment.
Ivan Tsoi, Business Development Director of the National Geographic (Chinese Edition)
Q: What's the reason for this collaboration?
Tsoi: After the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ was announced in China, we have been feeling its influence. The infrastructure, lives of people, economy and landscapes of the countries on the belt are experiencing drastic changes.
Tsoi: And recording these changes in the world using images is exactly what National Geographic has been doing. If we can gather the images of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ in the early stages into a book, it's going to be a very meaningful project.
Q: How did National Geographic first think about this collaboration?
Tsoi: The US headquarter asked about the book that we published 18 years ago. A Japanese-American photographer took photos of countries along the Belt and the photos were published in that book. So why do we need another one?
Tsoi: That photographer based his studies on old records. He retraced the route using historic accounts, so the focal point was more about historical point of view. While this time our book focuses on commercial and economic activities.
Q: What equipment do you prepare for taking photos?
Li: Two cameras and three lenses are the basics because changing lenses is troublesome. For landscapes and sceneries, lenses from 11mm to 200mm are required. So three lenses is a must.
Li: Under special circumstances, like taking pictures of animals in Africa, if you use a 200mm lenses in this case, it’s only a standard lenses. You need a 400mm or a 600mm lens, or even a teleconverter in 1.4x or 2x. For animals, moving objects, large events, people etc., you need a high-speed camera.
Q: How do you capture the exact moment you want?
Li: My habit is to research beforehand to understand some major locations, as well as the view of sunset and sunrise, or any angles from which I can see the whole view. An example is getting the whole view of the Peak. You don’t go to the Peak for it, you go to the other side, Lion Rock. I think about how I can use the lenses beforehand, the angles and positions. To see the extraordinary out of the ordinary.
Q: Why do you put poems next to your photos?
Li: I value the idea of putting a poem with a picture. It makes things more interesting and artistic to match photos together with poems. This is also a new attempt for me. I put all my effort in for each piece since they are all my creations.
Eddy Li’s daughter, Samantha Li, is also an artist
Samantha Li’s Birkins was auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Q: Your daughter is also an artist. Would you consider collaborating with her?
Li: No, I seldom talk to my daughter about art. That’s the personality of most artists. If I tell my daughter to create something, she won’t listen to me even if it’s good advice. Artists should be innovative and have their own styles. If she follows my ideas then it is not something of her own style. Every artist should have his or her own style.
Belt and Road – Charity Exhibition of Eddy Li
Dates: 11 - 23 July 2018
Monday to Friday｜10am – 6pm
Saturday｜11am – 5pm
Venue: Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery
Address: 5/F, One Pacific, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Enquiries: (852) 2822 556