IPA Interviews with Winning Photographers

Interview with

Chaoyue Pan

3rd place in Editorial – War/Conflict Category 2015

What is your background?

I was majoring Broadcasting Journalism in Tongji University (Shanghai) and became a photo editor in China’s official news agency Xinhua (Beijing) in 2011. I was assigned as a photojournalist with Xinhua’s Middle East Bureau in Cairo to cover stories in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, UAE, Kuwait and others since Sept. 2013 till Jan. 2016, witnessing social and political changes brought by the Arab Spring.

What kind of photography do you most identify with?

Photojournalism and Documentary.

Explain your style in 100 words

Capturing THE moment touching people’s eyes and hearts.

How did your style change over time?

Like many young photographers and those who just start to learn photography, I was fascinated by shade and light of a picture. By working with top wire photographers and freelancers, I gradually started to realize  that a good-looking picture is not necessarily a good picture. What makes sense is the way of expressing and the information the picture delivers.

What photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?

Since I am a wire photographer, I usually browse the works of my photographer friends from other wires like AP, Reuters, AFP and EPA. Maybe there is no specific photograph leaving a lasting impression on me, but photographs taken in war and conflict zone always affect me to a large extent, i.e., How the photographer reach the scene? What objects do they shoot and what not? Where is the best place to show the reality in a better way? Sometimes reading photos is more educating for me than taking photos.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

I don’t want to describe details anymore, but the moment my Egyptian colleague cameraman Ahmed Hassan Ahmed was shot on his forehead and died in Damascus, Syria, in June 2014, will impress me in my whole life.

What is your dream project?

To document great changes in China and Asia.

Name 5 photographers who have inspired you

H.C. Bresson, Wissam Nasr (my Xinhua colleague in Gaza), Manu Brabo.

What would you do without photography?

Maybe to play guitar and to sing in a pub.

How do you know when a body of work is finished?

When I lose passion in the project.

Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?

Not yet.

What is your most important gadget? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

iPhone 6 Plus. I am taking photos with my mobile device as I take breathes.

How did you start taking pictures? Why do you take pictures?

Taking pictures is the only word that I can fill in three bars on a form: Hobby, Job and Good At. I started to take pictures as a hobby and make it serious as a job, hopefully, I will be good at taking pictures soon. I take pictures to satisfy myself.

What was your first camera?

Canon 400D.

What camera do you use now and why?

Nikon D800, Nikon D4 and iPhone 6 Plus. Most of the time these devices are for the need of work.

What role does the photographer have in society?

Photographers are one of those who observe, witness and record our society. In some extent, they are “making” the history.

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