Profiles of Interesting New Yorkers

Promoting Diversity Through Photography With Lanny Li

By Nick Christophers

It couldn’t have been any perfect for Lanny Li as they presented their first solo show “every wardrobe an IDENTITY” at the New York Arts Center in Chinatown.  Lanny Li is a photographer who hails from China has begun to make themselves known in the Chinese and American communities. Their work focuses on the human spirit and especially the LGBTQ community who they attempt to represent through their work. Lanny aims to bring more awareness to the community via visual storytelling, specifically photos and videos.

“My show showcases the ongoing passion project that focuses on the Asian American gender minorities. There are not only photographs, but also multi-media elements that tell unique stories of each individual. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to increase the visibility of our community.”

Lanny was first influenced by their parents who introduced them to the beauty of photography when they were little. Later, their mentor Corky Lee, who is known for using photography to bring awareness to the Asian American community, heavily inspired Lanny and taught them a lot in terms of photographing methods when they moved to New York.

One of their most memorable pictures was when they were in Chinatown with Corky taking photos at a protest march against gentrification in Chinatown and Lower East Side. They found an 11-year-old boy crying by the stage where the activists talked after the march in the middle of the crowd and snapped his picture that to them spoke volumes about the protest for the neighborhood. That picture was one of the first photographs they took when they started documenting for the communities in the city.

The main purpose of their work is to tell unique human stories as well as to express their own emotions. By doing this, they hope to dispel misunderstandings, build connections, and redefine the representation of Asian Americans in mainstream media. Lanny’s work was recognized by PDN (Photo District News) and was awarded an honorable mention this year in the New Media category. The award was for their self-produced video that compliments the photography in the recent multi-media project.

Currently, their new photographic project RED has been chosen to be part of the charity-focused art show “OUTlines” that celebrates Stonewall 50th Anniversary. The show will be taking place in a week at One Art Space in Tribeca. Besides taking part in the historical Stonewall 50 celebration, they hope to share their project in more Community Centers around the New York area and beyond. Lanny’s work is unique and meant to change the minds of many and educate the ignorant.

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