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The Girl with an Eye for the Lens

March, 2015
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Lisa Chen, a Grade 11 student at Shanghai Community International School, Hongqiao Campus, held her personal photography exhibition at Shanghai Hongqiao Contemporary Art Museum on 7 February. The title of her exhibition was Africa Wildlife Photography Exhibition ‘WEALD’ by Lisa Chen.

On exhibition was only a small part of Lisa’s photographs, which total thousands of great shots of the wild animals living on the vast African savannah. She spent over 50 days in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe during her summer vacation in 2011 and 2012.

I have been to Africa twice, and Africa is a special place on the list of where I have travelled to. I have so many memorable events that happened to me on the trip to Africa. The photos that I shot in Africa are not like the photos that one would shoot at normal tourist attractions. There were alot of people asking me about my trip to Africa, and they were also interested in the photos that I took in Africa. I wanted to share all the photos since I only have one year left living in Shanghai. I also wanted to have an opportunity to meet my old friends in my old school before I go to college outside of Shanghai.”

With the help of her dad, Lisa had her own photo exhibition set up and open to the public. She hopes the exhibition serves as call to human beings to protect wild animals, and coexist with them in peace.


How did you become interested in photography?

Lisa: My family started travelling around the world when I was seven months old, which was the first time that I was on a plane. Whenever I saw interesting or beautiful views, they made me want to record them for some kind of collection. Another reason was because of my dad. He is crazy about photography, so he bought me my first camera when I was six years old. Since then I started to view the world as a photographer.


What inspired you to take a trip to the North and South Pole?

Lisa: The South Pole is a mysterious place that everyone yearns to visit. On the trip to Africa, I met a Taiwanese man that had travelled to Antartica before, and he told me about the fantastic things that he had experienced. I had travelled to more than 40 countries, and I had travelled to the other six continents before I went to Antarctica. So there was a motivation of reaching the seventh continent to have a nice ending before I start getting busy on college applications. So I made a decision that I must experience this exciting continent. I went to both Antartica and the North Pole with my family. 


How long was the trip and when did you take it?

Lisa: It was a nine-day trip to the South Pole and 13-day trip to the North Pole. Since the poles are too cold during winter, the poles are only available for tourism during summer. So I went to Antartica when China is in winter, and I went to the North Pole when China is in summer, since they have opposite seasons.


Can you tell us about the Camera and accessories you took along with you in order to capture these amazing photos?

Lisa: I have my commonly used camera and lens, which is a Canon 6D with an Ultrasonic 28-300mm lens. However, if I am travelling to places like Africa or the Poles, I bring an Ultrasonic 200-400mm & 600mm lens+Extender 2x, because a safety distances rule exists, stating that humans have to obey the distance between humans and animals. So bringing big range zoom-in lenses is useful. (South Pole, 5m between small animals like penguins, and 20m between big animals like whales or seals.) For shooting landscapes, I use Ultrasonic 24-70mm & 16-35mm lenses.


What was your most memorable part of the trip?

Lisa: One of the strong messages that I learned from both trips is that we have to protect the environment and protect the animals! The habitats of penguins and polar bears are getting smaller and smaller due to the direct and indirect influences of global warming.

From the trip to Antartica, the most memorable moment was when I was sitting on a rock, when all of a sudden two penguins came closer and started to run around me. One of the penguins bumped into me by accident. I was totally freaked out! They must’ve thought that I was a part of rock or something. I’m always really impressed with the relationship between animals and humans in the wild.

As for highlights from the trip to the North Pole, it was defintely the moment that we hit the 90N.


Is there any one person who has inspired/encouraged your passion for photography?

Lisa: Yes, certainly, and her name is Chen Man (陈漫), a fashion photographer. She had personal photo exhibitions in France, the US, UK, Japan, and Hong Kong. She has worked for Vogue,Elle,Bazaar,Marie Claire,Lofficiel,Wallpaper,Preference,Madame Figaro,Unlimited,Nylon,Sport & Street, i-D, andMuse.


Do you plan on studying photography professionally?

Lisa: I’m planning to apply to a school of design/art illustration, and study in the area of photography for studio. For example, fashion, portraiture, interiors, and product photography.


Whens the next trip and where would you like to go?

Lisa: Since I didn’t get to reach 90ºS, (only the Antarctic circle), if I have time I want to challenge myself to go to the center of the South Pole.


Find out more about Lisa Chen’s photogrpahy at www.lisaloveshow.com


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