We had the good fortune of connecting with Xinran Yue and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Xinran, what inspires you?
This question reminds me of a quote by Ansel Adams:
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
In my understanding, art creation is a process of exposing my inner self, and sharing my feelings with others at the exact moment. With that being said, I can be influenced and inspired by a lot of different unrelated stuff in my life.
For example, I originally come from a mid-size city in east China, which is in one of the richest and most developed areas in the country and is also not so close to the nature. Therefore, when I decided to move to Colorado for school, one important reason was that here is so different from where I was born and raised, and I was thrilled to experience something new. However, the mother nature has always been so generous and is always a source of my inner peace and creative desires.
In addition, I had been learning painting for over a decade when I was a kid. When I gradually realized that painting is just a different way of inner expression than photography, and the two forms of art are not too different by nature, I have been learning how to obtain my inspirations from other types of art and combine the strengths of different art styles.
Of course, my ambitions, my eager to try new things, and my friends all have been inspiring me a lot. All these drive me to grow to be a better person in general and photography is just accelerating the process.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Currently I am working full-time as a Financial Controller in a mid-size corporation in Denver (sorry not a full-time photographer yet), which is basically an upper-level accounting position in the company. I sometimes have photography gigs but that’s not the focus of my life at this point, and I do have the plan to expand my photography studio in the next stage of my life. It may seem weird because my two career directions are just so separated. However, my education from DU business school and my experience in the real business world are in fact benefiting me by leading me to think like a real business owner. Thinking about my own strengths and uniqueness helps me understand myself and figure out my directions.
On the other side, I am learning a lot that’s not taught in school or anywhere else when I research and explore opportunities and make plans for my future business. For example, I never had to handle marketing or SEO stuff, which I found to be the biggest obstacle for me in my business development. I am still on the way and I know I will get there at some point. It just takes time to try out and test my ideas.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is too much to explore in Colorado to be honest and one week is far from enough. Also the travel plan sort of depends on the time of the visit, and how intense people want the trip to be. When my friends come over to my state, I always list out options for them to choose from, which usually include: one or two days in Denver and Boulder city area, one day in Rocky Mountain National Park (usually in summer), a small road trip of two days in Colorado Springs, and the rest for a longer road trip in the mountains in further areas in west Colorado.
– Denver and Boulder
I wouldn’t say Denver or Boulder has the best city entertainments compared to bigger cities like New York, Chicago or some others in California. However, there are some spots that you may want to check. My favorite spots are the giant Blue Bear by the Convention Center in downtown Denver, Washington Park, University of Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens, CU Boulder, Pearl Street in Boulder, and other open parks in the area.
– Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has its own city center and old town area. Air Force Academy is almost a landmark with its distinguishing and gorgeous Cadet Chapel. The Incline in Manitou Springs, the Broadmoor Seven Falls, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, Pikes Peak are all good spots to check. Paint Mines Interpretive Park is like 40 min east of the city area, which demonstrates a completely different view than most of other parts in the state.
– Other road trip options
There are a bunch of wildflowers in the mountains if the visit falls in spring. If the visit is in fall, Crested Butte and Aspen are definitely the tops on my recommendation list. Ridgeway – Ouray – Telluride is awesome too if long driving hours is allowed. If the visit is in winter and my friends happen to be ski lovers, there are tons of different levels of trails in mountain towns nearby, such as Vail, Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, etc. In addition, you may not want to miss stargazing in Colorado if weather permits. There is very little light pollution in mountains and the Milky Way is very clearly seen from spring to fall. Other spots include Breckenridge, Georgetown, Gunnison National Park, Grand Mesa, Great Sand Dunes, and Red Rock Amphitheater, etc.
There are a lot of bars and restaurants of different types in the state as well. Even local food places in mountain towns can be a huge surprise.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes. I would say New York Institute of Photography helps me a lot. When I first started playing cameras, I basically just took pictures of whatever I felt interested in. Later on, I felt I wanted to improve my skills and do better in photography. At that point, New York Institute of Photography textbook was a great guide for me to enrich my knowledge and polish my camera skills, even though I did not finish the whole book. After I had learnt some good skills, I felt stuck again. Then I went back to the book to figure out what made a difference and what I was missing. Actually the book made its core idea very clear from the very beginning – the topic of your art piece (here means the photographs) is the most important; all the skills and techniques should be used to serve the purpose, emphasize your topic, and help tell your story. This is something I’m still working on even now. But once I have this idea planted in my mind, I tend to think more during my creations. There are a bunch of interesting online courses on New York Institute of Photography website and I haven’t got a chance to try out. Maybe sometime later.
Katie Puc (for my own portrait)