Interview with a photographer and film maker


Your passion for photography and film-making is evident in your work. Where did this passion come from?

Actually, I didn’t find photography and filmmaking as my passion until the second year I studied at UVa. However, I think one’s career path depends on vision and personality rather than those more tangible things like major or GPA. In my opinion, every job is to put together a narrative in some way, as engineers assemble machines and businessmen package products. As curious, imaginative and visual-oriented as I am, I found photography and filmmaking the best form for me to embody and communicate my perceptions of the world.

You made a documentary film on the trafficking of people from China to Greece. You obviously feel passionate about this subject. Do you see yourself making more documentaries in the future?

The short documentary, The Lamian Shop, was really a surprise as my second student project. I’m really sympathetic to those people who left their homes for prospects yet suffered from inhumane situations, yet illegal immigration remains a big problem for a lot of countries in the world. I believe that the way to break stereotypes and help those people is through communication.  If conditions allow, I’d love to expand the scope of this film. And the idea of changing the world through communication will be carried out in all of my future documentaries.

Your future career could go in many different directions. How do you see it evolving? You mentioned that you want to study for an MFA.

A well-established photographer once asked me a question: “if there’s a genie that can make anything you wish come true, but no cash, what would you wanna be? You also have to be very specific because the genie could interpret your wish in any way.” My answer is still evolving, but I picture myself working in the film industry incorporating the resources from China and the US. It’s a process of exploring your true self and finding the balance between the dream and the reality. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of kind established people guiding me, and maybe an MFA will lead me to more doors. After all, life is not a multiple-choice question, but a river that finds its path by following the nature’s call. Until I am completely sure to answer the genie, I will stay open to all of the potentials and navigate myself through the turbulences.

What do you like best about living and working in the US?

What I like the best about living here is that the social norms are more laid-back and liberal. Bearing a strong Confucian traditional, the Chinese culture puts more emphasis on hierarchy. As for work, the documentary filmmaking industry is definitely more developed and sophisticated in the US.

How do you relax?

I’m very lucky that my hobby benefits my work. I also love reading, writing, watching films, and acting. All of these make me relaxed as well as enhancing my understanding of visual storytelling.  Other than that, I enjoy traveling and talking to my friends and family too.

You can read more about Eris’s time at university and see more of her wonderful photographs on Parke Muth’s blog