I typically cover breaking news and interesting folk festivals.
When I was in primary school, my brother brought home a camera from university. It was a luxury item in those days, so I wasn’t allowed to touch it even though I was curious.
Later, when I was 18, I worked as a coal miner in Shanxi province for about a year, and I used my salary to buy a Chinese-made camera.
I’ve never had systematic lessons or training, so I mainly study photography by looking at pictures others have taken and I try to absorb what is helpful to me.
My first assignment was to take photos of a man cut by a knife in a brawl. When I arrived, he was in the emergency room undergoing urgent treatment. Despite a huge wound in his left side, he didn’t seem to be in any pain and just kept talking with the nurse. Later, I leant that speaking distracted him from the pain.
Covering my first story made me realise that I love what I do with my whole heart. I love just getting to the spot and reporting with my camera, talking to people and hearing their stories — the good, the bad and the ugly parts. That is also why in 20 years of doing this job I have never felt tired or bored.
The Ludian earthquake in 2014 left the greatest mark on me. I was the first non-local photographer to arrive at Longtoushan Township, the area worst hit by the quake. Having taken photos after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, I was once again close to so many lost lives.
On the first day of covering the Ludian quake, I met 33-year-old Liu Jiali, whose wife and two kids were killed and buried in their own home. When his eldest daughter wiped the tears off his face, sorrow melted my heart. On hearing their story, I kept my distance and sat across from the family for nearly two hours during this heartbreaking moment.
I don’t think about the audience when I take pictures. Broadly, I think of those who are concerned about the topic and want to learn about what is happening.
Generally, I feel the same amount of excitement for every assignment because each time it’s something new.
I respect anyone who can produce nice images. I believe that anybody who can take photographs better than me should be my teacher, no matter how old or young they are.