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Wildlife photography pioneer blazes trail
A flock of Blood pheasants drink cautiously in a pond in Meili Snow Mountains of southwest China’s Yunnan province.  Click here for more wildlife photos.

Q: How did you get into the field of photographing wildlife?

A: I started my journey in 2004 when I began to photograph birds and made a plan to shoot dwarf blue sheep in Batang county, Sichuan province.I've loved nature and wildlife since I was little, so wildlife photography has always been on my radar.

Wildlife photography pioneer blazes trail
Photographer: Dong Lei 

Q: What’s the challenge for Chinese nature photographers?

A: The most outstanding wildlife photographers I know are the ones who have great passion and interest in this job. Wildlife photography is a well-developed profession with a mature market in Europe and America, but I believe the biggest problem for those who want to become professional wildlife photographers in China is that there is no such market for them here. The mission of our Images Biodiversity Expedition Ins. (IBE) is to find a market that suits China’s national conditions. So far our experiments have been successful.

Q: Can you recount a story that left a deep impression?

A: My most memorable work was done on the freezing Meili Snow Mountain in Yunnan province at the beginning of 2010. We crept into a well-concealed tent near a water source in the forest every morning before dawn. Different animals came to drink every morning and evening.

Though staying in a tent for most of the time was boring, it is still the best way to shoot free-living animals. This is my favorite photo of a blood pheasant. I placed a camera with a wide-angle lens on the ground at the water source and took this one using remote control from afar. People watching it would feel they were there, too.

Q: And what advice can you give to young photographers?

A: It took me 10 years to decide on the direction of my career. I had to fumble my way through the gear and techniques. With greater development in the Chinese market, if young people nowadays have the interest and passion for this, just go for it. The next decade will be an era of booming development for wildlife photography and documentary in China.

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