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A picture of determination

Updated: 2023-08-21 08:52 ( China Daily Global )
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Zheng Longhua's photo features visually impaired Paralympics gold medalist Li Duan. [Photo provided to China Daily]

However, a lack of knowledge, and money to buy equipment, hindered his determination.

After sharing his concerns with high school classmate Che Jingguang, with whom he had regular correspondence, Che surprised Zheng with a secondhand camera.

In a subsequent letter from his friend, Che confided his belief that Zheng was a person who could achieve anything as long as he set his mind to it. The letter reinforced Zheng's faith in himself and he started work on learning how to use the intricate controls of the camera.

For the following six months, Zheng rarely stepped out of his house, practicing by relying solely on his wrists to switch the camera on, frame shots, adjust the focus, and control the shutter speed and aperture.

Without fingers, the most challenging part was adjusting the focal length.

"I had to hold the camera with my left arm while using my right wrist to twist the lens, relying on friction to turn the focus ring," he says.

Since wearing protective gear would dampen the necessary tactility, Zheng's skin often chafed and cracked because of the friction.

"It especially hurt when my skin came into contact with the developing solution when I processed my photos," he says, adding that the pain would often make him pale and cause beads of sweat to break out on his forehead.

Zheng persisted and his sensitivity to the pain waned, as he honed and refined his photography skills.

He started with traditional SLR cameras, gradually transitioning to digital models, developing a unique skill that suited him best.

"I have divided the actions that normal people can do simultaneously into different steps and do them one at a time," he explains.

His forehead has also been a useful tool for him to steady the camera.

"If you look close enough, it is very calloused," he points out.

The previous setbacks Zheng had encountered ensured that he treasured every job opportunity that came his way.

To make a living, he started to take photos of villagers. He carried a backpack and pedaled a bicycle — equipped with a toolbox for developing photos on the fly — navigating steep mountain slopes and going door to door to find photography opportunities.

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