Love may be one of the most explored and documented topics when it comes to photography, but self-taught photographer Li Hui found that it’s also often the hardest to get right when she shot her compelling series entitled “Secret Valentine”. For this collection of intimate snapshots for the The Photographic Journal, her goal was to find the right balance in telling how her two female friends transitioned from platonic friends to lovers.
“I didn’t want the photographs to appear too corny or sentimental – and consequently too boring,” she said. “I tried to go a little deeper to capture and highlight these two lovers’ unique way of showing affection for each other. However, I usually prefer to use relatively simple composition.”
Despite not having as much time as she liked and shooting only one roll, the result is a unique peek into the delicate love between her subjects, showing an intimate connection that Li Hui herself found delightful. “I just love the intimate connection that lovers have. The touching, the details of their body language – you could see the love floating in the air throughout the entire story.”
While mostly inspired by movies and Japanese anime, music fuels Li Hui’s ideas as well, and she shares it was at work while she shot “Secret Valentine”. “I was listening to a particular song when I shot the series. The name just popped into my head, and I thought it would fit perfectly. The ‘secret’ refers to the love the two girls felt for each other from the beginning, even though they couldn’t admit it at first.”
Li Hui started focusing on film photography and collecting film cameras in 2009, when she got her Nikon FM2. Since then, she has found a way to let it become her own style, letting the excitement of experimentation and waiting for the results drive her enthusiasm for the medium.
“I think film will never die. The medium is still important to movie directors or professional photographers. Digital can’t replace film, because film is so special and you can use it in all kinds of different ways. To me, digital is more convenient for point-and-shoot photography, but only film gives you this special feeling of creating your very own art.”
To see more of Li Hui’s work, please follow the links below: