In our latest artist interview, we touch base with Derek Muhs and showcase his latest book, “Faces We Love Shanghai.” Through this collection of 100 mostly full-color photographs captured by a team of passionate artists and photographers, Faces We Love Shanghai takes you on a journey through the city’s narrow alleyways and secluded backstreets. Each photograph reveals an untold story, showcasing the beauty and joy behind the everyday moments and people that are often overlooked.
Also featured in the book are photographs of a community working together as a team, supporting one another in a time of tremendous stress and anxiety, as COVID-19 swept the globe and the world pointed its finger at China.
Interview with the author | Derek Muhs
What inspired you to create these photos?
My neighbors in Shanghai.
For over 13 years, just opening my front door, wandering our neighborhood or cycling through the community, connecting with people in different ways in this incredible city was very inspiring. Those moments just had to be captured. Each one of our contributors shared that same passion for capturing honest human moments.
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of these photos?
The biggest challenge was taking literally thousands of moments and cutting it down to just 100 that captured our journey through the city of Shanghai. It’s always hard because you become emotionally attached to these photographs because they are connected to a memory. But, of course that means…. we have enough images for at least another edition
Another challenge was gaining trust. When you take a photograph, you need to have a relationship with your subject. building that trust takes time & patience. Our honesty, transparency, respect and.. love for people gained their trust.
What cameras, lenses and lighting gear were used to create the photos?
Various cameras were used and also smartphones. We find it actually so interesting that many of our favorite shots were captured on our smartphone. It just makes us appreciate how the art of photography is no longer something elitist for those who can afford the best equipment. If you have the eye and the heart to connect with the moment and the subject your photographs will have emotional impact.
A zoom lens is fantastic for street photography because you are barely noticed. This is important so you can have a connection and trust with the subject. Heavy camera equipment can overpower a moment as people often tense up. Faces We Love photography is based on honest human moments where the subject trusts the photographer, our best moments never feel like a photo shoot. The great thing is you can now get great/cost effective zoom lenses for smartphones that are indiscreet so everyone can experiment.
FWL photos are never staged and no special lighting is used. We capture natural and authentic. If you really want us to share the equipment we used we can, but our philosophy with our contributors is to not focus on the equipment. Some of the equipment used ranges from top notch cameras to smartphones so we would prefer to just minimize the focus on the equipment.
Do you have a favorite photo from the series? If so, what is it and why?
I have a top 3.
- Love looks for a way. It shows such a feeling of care and protection and also the real honestfeeling of panic when people realize their loved ones are at risk. And yet there’s something so adorable and cute about that scenario, and the innocence of a child having to go through a pandemic.
- This woman’s work. We would see these hard working, resilient women everyday in thecommunity.
- Silver crown of beauty. That lady makes me smile, she has such wisdom in her eyes and also content but still full of curiosity.
For photographers looking to create impactful images like this, could you share your process of coming up with your concepts and ideas?
Faces We Love collections shine a light on everyday human moments, so we have had photographers from all over the world connect with us and our process is very simple. It’s capturing faces, the beauty of faces in their everyday environment, doing everyday things, and finding the beauty in that. It’s having the same heart and vision and a shared love for that human connection with our everyday environment and the people in it. Our viewers and contributors are finding that, in a world that is extremely filtered, they love the authenticity, they love the grittiness and the honesty of our photographs. Real people as they are.
We would like to continue to encourage any up and coming photographers of any age and background to capture those moments, take notice of everyday things around them and then as Linda McCartney said, you snap it, you get to keep that moment.
What are you currently working on? What’s next?
We have several projects in the pipeline, but for now we are heading to India in the Spring. Our travels through India and Bhutan have been incredibly exciting so we’re exploring a project there. But for our Faces We Love family and audience, we’ll be announcing our next edition shortly when the details are finalized. You’ll be the first to know.
You can Purchase the book here on Amazon