Saturday, 06 December 2014 00:00

"I find beautiful things we tend to neglect" – An interview with the winner of November's Europe Through a Lens

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Junyuan Chen comes from China, but dreams of living long-term in Europe, where he is currently studying. 22 years old, he takes pictures in his free time, immortalising the landscapes of our beautiful continent. Two of his shots won first and second place in our Europe Through a Lens competition last month. E&M's Veronica Pozzi caught up with this young and motivated photographer, whose works so impressed our judges, to hear more.


Junyuan Chen

Junyuan's passion for photography was born in an unusual way. "Originally my hobby was actually making plastic models", he tells our magazine. "I bought a camera to take nice photos of my models. That's how I learnt some basic knowledge about photography: I haven't taken any lessons, I learn all the concepts and techniques through the internet (e.g. YouTube, forums) and books".


Originally from China, he is now pursuing a Master's degree in Accounting at the University of Glasgow, in the UK. It is not anything related to photography, that's for sure, but it was right after studying abroad for the first time that he picked up photography as his major hobby. In Glasgow, he is also a member of the University Photo Society, where he likes to "share ideas with fellows and take photos together with them". Thanks to a post on the society's Facebook page he first heard about the E&M photo competition. He then decided to enter two of his works for the November's edition of the contest, the theme of which was "Europe at night". "I wanted to test myself", he explains. And it went well. Let's find out a little more about his prize-winning pictures...



E&M: So, Star has won first place, whilst Before the party made it to second place. What is the story behind them?


JC: Both pictures were taken at the main building of the University of Glasgow. Before the party was taken during our photo society's night photography event at Halloween. The people in the photo, ready for partying, were actually members of our uni's Harry Potter Society. That was interesting, I didn't know that our uni had such a society! So I found an interesting angle and took that photo. I took Star a few days before Halloween. It was a really freezing night and, unfortunately, I wasn't well prepared and felt cold during the whole night. The tower is actually really dark so auto-focus wasn't working, I had to focus manually and took several test shoots. I took about 20 pictures and combined them together. I wanted to take more but the light was turned on and the tower got too bright.


Star Chen
Star - photo courtesy of Junyuan Chen
Winner of first place in the November's edition of Europe Through a Lens


E&M: They both focus on buildings, but I have seen on your Flickr account you have been taking quite a lot of photos of British landscapes. What is your favourite subject then?


JC: I mainly prefer landscape and nature photography, and rarely shoot portrait. Different areas require different techniques and gears: I am currently using a 550D+17-40mm L lens. I choose to focus on landscape since I like to walk and find some beautiful things we tend to neglect. This summer I travelled around the UK, so I just took lots of photos of what I saw on my way.


E&M: Tell us about a picture you will never forget...


Junyuan chen photo
Photo courtesy of Junyuan Chen 


JC: This might be the one. This picture made me feel that I had entered the world of photography. It was taken in the Peak District in the UK, this year. It was the first time I tried HDR and brought a tripod with me during the journey. The journey itself was amazing too: it was my graduation trip with my friends.


E&M: Which contribution do you think photography will give to our future society?


JC: I think photography is always an important thing because people always need to record beautiful moments and the truth. I regard myself as a recorder as well; after all, I record what I see and share it with the world. Photojournalism is actually one of the areas of photography, I think: only words normally cannot tell people everything and people can get a lot of information and emotion through a photo.


Beforetheparty Chen
Before the party - photo courtesy of Junyuan Chen
Winner of second place in E&M's November photo competition


Junyuan's dream is to live in Europe on a more permenant basis, but he will need to find a job in order to comply with visa requirements. His dream job is in fact to become a photographer, travelling a lot and discovering beautiful places to immortalise with his camera. Well, all the best to him! We really appreciated having the chance to see some of his works and getting to know more about him.


Stay tuned on E&M for future editions of Europe through a Lens. A new call for entries is already out! The next one to be interviewed could be you...

Last modified on Saturday, 20 December 2014 14:46

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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