Artists of Dongguan – Xuefeng, Mai (Child photographer)

Artists of Dongguan – Xuefeng, Mai (Child photographer)

Echo Zhang spoke some advanced words in a place more frequented by baby talk. What followed, posed for an interesting read…


Life never lacks fun or ideas. One simply needs to discover it. Some take a further step, delve into it, enjoy it and share, like Xuefeng, Mai does.

Mai had the idea of creating sweet memories for her baby.

We met at Café Lumaca, a super place for coffee and cake nestled behind some office buildings in Nancheng. Mai came in with her two cutest daughters, the muse of her art, which I later discovered.

Though Mai got her master’s degree in laws, the arrival of her first baby girl about two and a half years ago put the pursue of her career to a pause and Mai became a full time and dedicated mother, and six month later, her baby’s private photographer. Ever since she was little, Mai has had a passion for and talent in handcraft and painting. A lawyer she might have learned to be, an artist she was possibly born to be. Meanwhile, Mai always recalls fondly how much she enjoyed being a little model when her mother would dress her up and teach her how to pose for photos. The best thing about photography is perhaps that it captures time and brings back memories. Now a mother herself, and looking at photos of her own childhood, Mai had the idea of creating sweet memories for her baby. One day, inspired by a creative mother and photographer from Finland, who takes staged photos of her sleeping baby when she naps, Mai decided to give it a try herself. Having received many likes and much encouragement from family and friends on Wechat moment since posting the first photo, and discovering the joy of creating and capturing her baby’s dreamland, Mai started playing a new role in her baby’s life, a personal photographer.

Mai showed me her wonderful collection of work and explained the story behind each photo of her sleeping babies. They could be transformed into the Little Red Riding Hood meeting the wicked wolf, two little witches carrying a jack-o-lantern flying on a broom on a full moon’s night, a little Father Christmas and a snowman decorating a Christmas tree or Misses Bikini having fun at the beach. You might be wondering where and how Mai collects and prepares all these costumes and props to set the scenes. “Anything can be useful. I usually look around the house to see what’s available. I mainly use clothes and fabrics as they can be easily folded into different shapes. ” Mai revealed. Looking closely, you will notice that the wicked wolf’s dark eyes are a pair of rolled up black stockings and his sinister smile a cut up piece of paper, the Christmas tree is made of a piece of green cloth folded up decorated with jewels and ribbons, and the baby’s red and white striped outfit is nothing but tissue and a ribbon. That’s the fun of creating, take what you have and make something new through a different angle.


I remember Jingjing, a renowned local paper artist, once told me that inspiration comes from the things that happen in our life and the people we meet. Mai once again confirmed this belief. An unintentional comment can strike a creative spark. “One day, my daughter was wearing an orange and white striped outfit and my husband said she looked a bit like a salmon fish. A new idea of making a bowl of Japanese Ramen with salmon just popped in my head.” Mai explained and showed me the deliciously looking photo.

 inspiration comes from the things that happen in our life and the people we meet

It’s true that most of the time ideas come from brainstorming and sharing with others, but to turn an idea into an art is usually done alone. When the night grows deep and Mai’s sweeties are wandering in their sweet dreams, Mai takes out her magic wand and starts to stage their dreams, creating wonderful scenes. Though she does it as carefully as possible, the sleeping beauties could always make a sudden move and spoil the whole setting. An unpleasant test of patience it can be, the joy it brings outweighs by a margin and this can apply to a lot of other things in life.


As long as you are willing to search, fun and ideas are there to be discovered. Be it taking staged photos for your darling child, cook and create a different meal for your loved ones or make a lovely bouquet for yourself, add some spice and sparks to life.

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