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Storyteller | Yanan Li

Why Sweden and Hasselblad both click for internationally acclaimed Chinese photographer Yanan Li

Both the genius of Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman and the reassuring click of a Hasselblad camera – ‘the most beautiful sound in the world’ – played key roles in the decision of internationally acclaimed Chinese photographer Yanan Li to move to Sweden back in 1999.


A life-changing move, from which Yanan has never looked back.

Eleven years ago he worked with author Anna-Karen Palm to produce a book (and an exhibition) on the famous Stockholm City Hall – a renowned showcase for Swedish culture. His mission was to use ‘the language of film’ to accentuate the ‘marvels’ of the building – including the capture of the Hall against the city skyline over the seasons.

He says: “As a professional photographer I must deliver very high quality pictures, captured at many different locations and events.  These have included official photographs of Sweden’s queen for the care organisation Silviahemmet and also for The Nobel Foundation. To do these things I must have a camera I can always trust. A camera that will always give me optimum results.”

Yanan’s preferred capture device is always a Hasselblad.  “When I hold a Hasselblad I invariably feel a need to take really good pictures” he admits. “When I came to Sweden I studied at a film school in Gothenburg. During the course we went to watch Hasselblad cameras being made. That was a very powerful and unforgettable experience for me. My time with the V-System really affected the way in which I related to the subject of each shot.

yannan1Over the years I have owned a large number of Hasselblads including the 500el; 500CX; 503CW; H2D; H3D and H4D models.  The first time I ever used a Hasselblad the world just stopped right there before my eyes. The unique 6×6 format and the special way of holding the device afforded me extra time to think about composition. As a photographer it made me more careful with every shot. I was more focused on fully utilising that space in the frame.”

Adds Yanan: “When the first digital Hasselblad burst onto the imaging scene it created a completely new look with its extraordinary depth of colour and the massive amount of information it could hold. I was visibly shocked – and with its auto focus a whole new world just opened up for me.

And today it is amazing how both the V-System and H-System cameras have maintained such remarkable capture quality. From V System to H System Hasselblad has reinforced its leading role. And now the CFV digital back simply enables me to appreciate the entire Hasselblad philosophy of really caring about its customers.”

yannan5Yanan confesses: “I have to admit I didn’t used to know much about Sweden…I kept mixing it up with Switzerland. But when I took a close look and found names like Volvo, Ericsson, H&M, IKEA, ABBA, Nobel, Ingmar Bergman and of course’d think the country was huge! I was stunned to learn that a nation of just eight million people – the same as a district in Beijing – has created such famous names and companies.”

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