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Written by (作者): Jojo Chen 陈姣姣
Photos by (图片来源): Mark Ren 任晓冬


 

Before meeting Mark Ren, I took a look at some of his underwater photo shoots and was awestruck. The photos were simple and beautiful nudes and semi-nudes that sought to explore the beauty of the human form in an unknown environment. I had spoken with friends and acquaintances of Mark and each of their stories were more exaggerated and vivid than the next, so I nicknamed him “Crazy Mark”. I at first though that he would be arrogant and pretentious due to his career in the fashion industry, but I was taken aback when we met, as he had a strong personality and was both honest and friendly. As we took our seats in the coffee shop, I was eager to find out all the ins and outs of the fashion world and why he had chosen to do such irregular shoots.

Although the idea for doing an underwater photo shoot isn’t entirely original, it’s a first for Ningbo. Mark thought about doing it after he decided to do something creative for a summer photo shoot besides a beach or a pool. He found a professional underwater photo studio in Xiangshan Film and Television City and got to work planning. Because the studio was more geared towards movies and TV shows, they had never shot portrait photos and had to undergo a month of preparations for the shoot. To prepare for the shoot, Mark had to run, swim, eat meals of salad and raw beef each day, even going as far as running through the mountains nude in the early morning to make sure he had a uniform tan.

During the shooting process itself, Mark also ran up against difficulties. Having searched foreign sites for poses online as reference, he was unable to find anything that stood out and had to figure out poses with the photographer during the shoot. Additionally, the underwater shoot tested his physical ability, with the water being difficult to move around in freely. Communication between Mark and the photographer all depended on body language since the photographer was outside a glass wall. Along with being the model for the shoot, Mark had to serve as an assistant, needing to salvage props from the water. Having spent a total of 8 hours under water during the shoot, Mark also developed keratitis, a hearing impairment that stems from too much water in the ears, and other issues like the skin on his feet eroding in the water. What’s worse, the total cost of the photo shoot slowly rose to 25,000 RMB.

In the end, Mark was only satisfied with a dozen of the photos taken, but he saw what had worked and felt the whole endeavor worthwhile. A month before, his friends had joked a little about his special shoot, but when he posted the results in his WeChat Moments, the likes came forth like a tidal wave. He jokes with me that he rose to fame because of his naked portrait photos.

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Mark has even more crazy shoots planned. “At the moment, I’m preparing to shoot an entire album with a bald head. Even though most people would never shave their heads unless they had to, I want to give it a try.” While it might be common practice in Western countries, doing shoots like these isn’t all too common in China, and Mark intends to continue breaking down barriers with his revolutionary shoots, doing one every three months.

These crazy stories aren’t limited to photo shoots. Ever since he was a child, Mark had wanted to become a model, but due to limitations in his height and appearance, his dream never came true. This changed in 2014 when he was given the opportunity to take part in a fashion show when the company he worked for organized one. To realize his dream, he had to undertake lots of preliminary work, including whitening his hair, darkening his skin, and hiring a professional trainer to teach him how to walk and pose during the show. To bring it full circle, he exercised three hours every afternoon to build the perfect body.

Even though he was only on stage for 52 seconds, Mark tells me he enjoyed the whole experience. “For professional models, the movements I was doing would have been dull and ordinary, but for me, it was all a dream come true. Even though I spent a lot of money to achieve this, I never regretted it for one second.”

Mark doesn’t do what he does to show off, but to experience his life to the fullest. Doing things that you want to do and not holding back, in Mark’s opinion, is the best thing you can do while striving towards a goal, this is what matters most.

Despite the fact that Mark has a long way to go in learning what he truly loves to do, he is putting his most basic life habit to practice: staying true to himself, something he sees as the most fashionable attitude towards life.

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见到任晓冬(Mark)之前,我先在手机上看了他的水下时尚创意大片,当下被惊得说不出话来。虽说是时尚创意大片,但在国内的社会环境下,作为一个普通人,这组裸体写真实在是太大胆出位和让人震撼了!我还听不同人讲述过晓冬的“传奇事迹”,一次比一次夸张传神,便默默在心里送了他一个外号——Crazy Mark。因此我对他最初的预设,大概是极其注重美感,以至于有些挑剔和傲慢。

不过实际上,晓冬虽然个性张扬,却也不失真诚和友善。我们刚在咖啡馆的一隅落座,我就迫不及待地想了解水下写真拍摄的来龙去脉。晓冬告诉我,他一直想拍一组人生真正意义上的大片,一定要惊世骇俗,就是一般人看了“哇”一声,就不知道说什么了的那种。我笑说,我就是那个一般人。

夏季的写真拍摄场景,常见的无非也就是沙滩和泳池。怎样才能更有创意呢?晓冬想到了水下拍摄。有了点子,就要马上付诸实践。他在象山影视城找到了整个华东区最专业的水下摄影棚,一般是拍电影和电视剧用的,没有人用来拍过写真。他一共实地考察了四次,先是自己去,然后带着摄影师一起去。在一个多月的筹备期,他坚持每天跑步、游泳,吃沙拉和生牛肉,为了让全身晒成均匀的小麦色,还不时在清晨去山顶裸跑。

拍摄过程自然也是困难重重。晓冬事先在网上找了很多国外参考样片,但没有发现特别能让人眼前一亮的,只能自己和摄影师在现场琢磨怎么凹造型。水下考验肺活量,动作又很难摆到位。摄影师站在玻璃墙外,沟通全靠肢体语言。同时,他既是模特,也是道具打捞员。这样在水中一拍就是八个小时,引发了眼角膜发炎、耳朵进水听不见、脚上皮肤被泡烂等一系列症状。整场拍摄的直接成本更是高达2.5万元。

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最后的成片,让晓冬真正感到满意的也不过十几张。但他说,看到作品的一刹那,感觉所有的付出都是值得的。拍摄前半个月,他在朋友圈宣布要做这件事的时候,激起一片质疑之声,看热闹瞎起哄的人更是不在少数。而半个月之后,当这些人看到照片,便清一色只剩惊叹之声。短短几分钟之内,几百个赞扑面而来。他打趣说,自己从此“一脱成名”。

“目前,我正在准备拍摄一套光头私房写真。剃光头这件事,可能大多数人一辈子都不会做,但我很想尝试一下。”晓冬说,人生和头发一样,随时都可以重新开始。虽然早有心理准备,几天以后,当我看到这组一边剃头发一边拍下的照片时,还是大为震惊。相较水下写真,它又是一种全新的风格,但两组照片都传递着同样一种态度——不走寻常路。这样的创意大片,晓冬打算以后每三个月左右拍一组。

但如果你以为晓冬的“疯狂事迹”只是拍拍照,那你就错了。坊间流传的另一件我很想当面向他求证的事情,是两年前他在婚博会上走的内衣秀。当模特,是晓冬从小的另一个梦想,但由于身高和外貌条件的限制一直没有实现。有时,他看某些时装品牌的男模走秀,有的身材还不如自己,更是觉得心有不甘。所以2014年,当他所在公司要主办这么一场活动的时候,他就积极为自己争取了一次上台的机会。为了圆梦,他做了很多前期投入:头发染白、身体美黑,甚至请了专业的模特老师每天训练四小时,从站姿到台步再到走位,持续两个月。此外,他每个下午还花三小时健身,以塑造完美身材。

“我非常享受台上的52秒。虽然对于专业模特而言,这只是极其普通的一刻,对我来说,却是梦想实现的瞬间。尽管为了走这场秀,我付出了很大的成本和精力,甚至一些不为人知的代价,但我真的从来没有后悔过。”

晓冬说,他做这些事不是为了炫耀,只是为了做真正的自己。人生短短三万天,为什么不让自己的生活更精彩一点呢?对他来说,开卡丁车、走玻璃栈道和蹦极这样的事已经太过稀松平常,接下来,他想要做的事情还有考飞机私照和高空跳伞。

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“你是从什么时候开始形成这种人生态度的?从小吗?”晓冬告诉我们,他并不是从小就活得这么潇洒:“事实上,小时候,我的家庭环境特别保守压抑,过得并不快乐。高中进入叛逆期,还得过抑郁症,生活轨迹也因此转变。但现在回过头看,或许应该感谢那段经历也未可知。正是因为人生的前三十年并不顺利,也没有取得太大的成就,我现在才格外珍惜时间,去做每一件想做的事。”认识他的人都说,晓冬现在越来越会玩了。但我想,那其实是活得越来越像自己了吧。

至此,如果你和我当初一样,以为晓冬是一个敢想敢做,但做事冲动不计后果的人,这又是一个天大的误会。他绝对具备与年龄相称的成熟和理性。在日常生活中,他不做吸烟、喝酒、玩牌、打游戏这种一般男人喜欢但实际并无多大益处的事,他只做可以让自己更好看、更年轻、状态更好的事。从去年开始,晓冬加入了一个新的团队,和一群志同道合的朋友一起,致力于让大家变得更美。作为毅•Salon时尚先锋的市场品牌推广的主要负责人,他也在为自己的新事业不断努力,从零开始研究化妆品、发型,学习英语,想要尽快进入状态。他说,起步晚不要紧,只要努力去做,就能迎头赶上。最近,在听了乐嘉宁波演讲会以后,他开始跟着乐嘉学习演讲和性格色彩,力争在不久的将来新技能get。

当很多人对时尚的理解还停留在穿衣打扮上,晓冬已经通过身体力行发出了自己的宣言:忠于自我,是最时尚的人生态度。

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