Zhou Jie, 33, is busy with her duties as a gastroenterologist at Shanghai Ruijin Hospital. But the young doctor has another life, one that has earned her fame and fulfillment of a different type.
Amateur photography, which started as a hobby for the young Shanghainese professional, has earned her a following on the web, and she is working on her second book. She has a talented eye for bringing out the beauty of China’s landscapes.
Zhou has tens of thousands of fans on Weibo (ID: @青筒Jane), the popular microblogging website.
Her first book, “Jiang Nan,” (Southern Area of Yangtze River) published in October 2012, was a book of her photography in which she shared her observations of life in the southern area of Yangtze River.
Known as Qing Jian on the Internet, Zhou first caught the public’s attention in early 2012 when her photo series depicting 24 solar terms of the traditional Chinese calendar went viral online. Many described the photos as breathtakingly beautiful, but also seeming to contain stories.
The 24 solar terms, divided based on the position of the sun, were used by ancient Chinese to guide their farming activities.
In the picture she picked for Vernal Equinox (“春分”), a profusion of golden rape flowers stretches out like a body of water, set against the beautiful backdrop of old white walls and gray roof tiles. Vernal Equinox is known as the day in mid-spring when day and night are the same length. It falls in March each year.
The photograph was taken in Yancun Village in Wuyuan County, Jiangxi Province, where the blooms attract thousands of tourists and shutterbugs in early spring.
“I was once captivated by a Japanese website about the 24 solar terms and thought I’d made a version of my own, with cultural riches reflected in pure Chinese-style photos.” Zhou said. “The origin of solar terms represents traditional Chinese culture.”
The photo for Light Snow (“小雪”) was taken in Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, which captured the first snowfall of 2011. Zhou said she set out for Hangzhou soon after she learned it had snowed. She climbed onto a fence to photograph the remaining snow on the roof.
Light Snow is the 19th solar term of the year and falls on November 22 to 23.
Six other photos from the series, including the Spring Begins (“立春”) and Summer Solstice (“夏至”), also were taken in Hangzhou, Zhou’s favorite city.
She said if she had to pick a place to retire, Hangzhou would be her top choice, for it’s an ideal place to live in seclusion surrounded with hills, lakes and forests.
Zhou said she took up photography about three years ago when she was in medical school and had some blocks of time to travel and take photos.
While private time can be a luxury, especially for a doctor, Zhou said she now makes photography part of her life.
“My schedule at work is periodic and whenever I am less buy, on weekends or public holidays, I’ll take my camera and hit the road,” she said.
Zhou has traveled through 11 provinces of China, including remote villages in the northeast, obscure counties on the Tibetan Plateau, and many other corners across the country.
The photo of Winter Solstice (“冬至”) was shot in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, where she found wooden houses covered in snow with smoke curling upward from the chimney.
“To take a photograph you are happy with can be time consuming,” Zhou said. “It takes only seconds to press the shutter, but sometimes I have to wait for hours for the element I want, be it the birds, people or a dog, to show up in the perfect way.”
She said she has been taken aback by the sensation her photography has caused. “But I never consider myself famous, and I am still living my life the way I always have,” Zhou said. “The one thing I feel grateful for is that I have gotten to know many friends in the circle of photography.”
Many have turned to Zhou for photography tips. But she said she never read tutorials online or in books.
“Cameras do matter, but not as much as people think. For me, it’s the idea and the inner love for natural beauty that make a good shot,” Zhou said. “The cameras I use most now are a Nikon D600 and a Sony NEX.”
The photos for the solar terms were all taken with a Nikon D90 with 18-70 and 55-200 lenses over two years.
Zhou lives with her parents and said they are supportive of her “second profession.”
Her photographs bring her extra income, which almost covers the cost of her travels. She also has been invited to take photographs and write articles for magazines and websites.
More of Zhou’s works can be found at www.douban.com/people/zhoujie221/photos, and are available on WeChat (ID:青筒).
Source: Shanghai Daily