Wu Yinxian 吴印咸 (1900-1994) was born in a common intellectual family in Shuyang, Jiangsu province. In 1920, he entered Shanghai College of Fine Arts and learnt western painting. During this period, he taught himself photography while participating in exhibitions organized by local photographic societies.
Wu was also involved in film industry as soon as the late 1930s, when he went to Yan’an to work as a cinematographer on a number of extremely popular - often leftist – films, such as like Scenes of City Life (1935) and Brave Sons and Daughters in Storm (1937). Overall his early works often showed highly contrasts with dramatic lines, while conveying a romanticized view of the common Chinese worker.
Wu established his reputation in the mid-1940s by seizing a series of portraits of Mao Zedong, which consequently prompted him to be part of the rare official party photographers. Later on in the mid-1950s, he was appointed vice-principal of the Cinematography Department at the Beijing Film Academy. He saw still photography as a core element, asking his students to get a thorough grasp of framing and lighting. Moving into colour photography in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wu eventually came to work on a few large commissions for the government, notably the interiors of Party Headquarters. Throughout his career, he juggled a dramatic nationalist aesthetic with his own artistic view.
More information: Wu Yinxian on National Art Museum of China (NAMOC)