Yuehan Gao (she/her b.1998) is a photographer originally from Shenzhen, China. She will receive her BFA in Photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in May 2021. She loves to utilize geometric shapes in her previous work. Currently, she centers her work on her personal exploration of life and observations of her surroundings. Her senior thesis project titled Alone Together showcases the vignettes of her daily life settings and emotional connection with friends during the isolation of the pandemic.



Yuehan Gao in conversation with Colby Hill

CH: What's your name?

YG: My name is Yuehan, but you can just call me Iris.

CH: Where are you from?

YG: I’m from Shenzhen, a coastal city in South China.

CH: What's your background in photography?

YG: I studied at Pine Manor College for one year where I also majored in photography. I then transferred to MassArt in 2017.

CH: What are you trying to say with your work?

YG: So during my sophomore year, I was focused on creating some geometric images that visually make me feel powerful. I like to experiment with different shapes, colors, and artificial light. I think I was trying to just follow my aesthetic feelings and throw them out with photography. From junior to senior year, I started to dig into my emotions by taking self-portraits and environmental portraits. I tried to show my relationship with nature and people in this difficult time. I hope to convey the healing and calm that nature calls to me and also to show my daily life with friends and being alone with them during the pandemic.

CH: Who are your biggest influences?

YG: Viviane Sassen, Babara Kasten, Duane Michals

CH: How long have you been interested in photography?

YG: My first photographic experience happened when I was around age sixteen. My mom gave me a camera to take photos of my cats. At that time I didn't know much about any shooting techniques. I just took snapshots and posted them to social media. I got some fans! I started to travel around some countries with my camera on vacation to capture moments. I think I’ve been really interested in photography since.

CH: Why is photography important to you?

YG: I would say the simple reason is that photography can capture our memory and life. And it is the way I perceive the world around me.

CH: What are some techniques that you use that make your work unique?

YG: To be honest I don’t use many special techniques. I think everyone has their own perspective which is important to making our work unique. One thing I would say is I stay creative, and am always thinking about and looking for new stuff to photograph.

CH: What are you working on right now?

YG: I’m working on my thesis project right now.

CH: Do you have plans for when you get out of school?

YG: Actually I plan to study advertising in graduate school in Fall. My plan for now is to acquire as much knowledge as I can and keep thinking about what I really plan to do in the future.

CH: What inspires you to make work?

YG: I would say my friends have an important role in inspiring me. I appreciate them; they always listen and talk to me. My emotions also inspire me to make work.

CH: What do you love about photography

YG: For me, photography is the easiest way to express myself artistically. It helps bring attention to the little things that often get overlooked. I love presenting my work to people because it allows others to see the world through my eyes.