Hong Kong photographer Tugo Cheng spent a decade crossing the border for his series Discovering China. Cheng, who has a background in architecture, says he focuses on capturing unusual shapes, patterns and textures, often resulting in abstract, poetic compositions – shapes like these surreal canyons, hundreds of metres deep, carved out by a river in the Tianshan mountains of China’s northwest Xinjiang region. Shooting while the light was weak helped Cheng create the flattened look, like a painted canvas.
In the video below, we catch up with Cheng to talk to about his approach to photography, his travels throughout China and about the techniques he used to capture images that have won prizes in prestigious international photographic competitions.
Cheng believes his architectural training has been instrumental in developing his personal photographic style. ‘Both architecture and photography represent a ceaseless pursuit of aesthetics in terms of lines, patterns, proportions, lighting and colours,’ says Cheng.
Throughout all his works, Cheng says his aim is to preserve the beauty of these natural landscapes. ‘While pollution and crowds may be synonymous with China, the country also boasts stunning natural scenery,’ he says. ‘Especially in the western provinces of Xinjiang, Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan, where dramatic silhouettes are shaped by the mountainous environments.’
Unfortunately, several of the locations in China he shot have already disappeared due to land reclamation as well as natural disasters. ‘If we don’t go to these places now, they’ll be history.’
Watch the video to hear Cheng talk about some of his favourite places in China to photograph or scroll through his photos below.