The Jaw-Dropping Gravity-Defying Photography of Li Wei

Li Wei is a Beijing-based artist that creates jaw-dropping scenes using mirrors, metal wires, scaffolding, and acrobatics. Check out his website here.

PetaPixel: Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

Li Wei: I was born in HuBei province. I studied oil painting when I was in college. And I went to Beijing in 1993 and went to East village, artists such like Zhang Huan influenced me a lot. So I started my performance art career before turning to photography. Today, photography is only a way of expressing, not my only medium. I also make statues. You can see performance elements in my works. I think this is my background.

PP: How did you first get into photography?

LW: I only use photography as a medium. From 2000. I don’t shoot myself.

I have my personal photographer.

PP: What equipment do you use these days?

LW: I use Hasselblad and Canon 5D mark II.

PP: How did you get the idea to create photographs that “defy gravity”?

LW: After my mirror series. I turned to gravity theme. I think that’s my symbol, also this is my own experience in the high places, that’s very important.

PP: How are the images made?

LW: I shot in real places with cranes and a technical crew, and I’ll remove the wires at my back in Photoshop.

PP: How much time does it take to create one of them?

LW: Not too sure. Maybe for several months, once I have an idea, I’ll start to make it happen.

PP: How many people are involve in each photo shoot?

LW: Sometimes many, a group of people, some times only myself.

PP: How are you able to use cranes? Do you rent them or do you have connections?

LW: I can rent it

PP: Where is your art on display? Do you sell prints?

LW: I have many representative galleries in Paris, HK, Spain and Berlin.

Yes, I sell prints.

PP: What advice do you have for new artists who would like to do what you do?

LW: Just follow your heart and try everything impossible.

PP: How much planning goes into a photograph? Do you write down or draw your ideas?

LW: I drew sketches. My photographer communicate with me and he knows my idea very well.

PP: Do you edit images yourself or does someone else do the Photoshop work?

LW: I do photoshop edit myself.

PP: What do you hope to achieve with your art?

LW: I will try everything impossible.

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  • Jeiji

    Freakin' sweet…

  • Daniel Kramer

    While the images are amazing pieces of art almost all of which I'd put up on my walls, the behind-the-scenes video scared the shit out of me…! Two skinny dudes holding a friggin' rope to avoid the fatal fall? That's not the way this should be done! Crazy stuff… You probably gotta have a defiant attitude towards life to be an artist…

  • Kikke 15

    Very daring!
    I like…

  • Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera

    Wow. These are amazing Mr Wei.

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  • kevjohn

    Just saw this today: on PopPhoto. And I've seen a few other similar shots over the past couple of months. Apparently this style is taking off, no pun intended.

  • Wpstudio1

    It’s so interesting that although they are not speaking English that You understand the language of Photography.

  • Anonymous

    Ehhh. Some of them look really fake or not that special.

  • Zach

    That picture is fake. I mean, more fake than these ones. The woman clearly isn’t even there. Someone took two separate photos and put them togethor.

  • bakancs

    wow, great works.. nice pics.. carry on the good work..

  • Mateja

    Why not do this on some other place “not the building”
    and just cut out the two people and put it on the building.

    if i had to do this for real i would crap myself.
    anyway good ideas, keep up the good work

  • Julien Ricard

    He doens’t shoot, and he does that with wires that he removes with Photoshop. Ok, so he’s not really a photograph, more an uninteresting person.

  • AngryMonkey


  • deena

    Oh man cooollllllllllll stuff nd u r amazing guyssssss……………

  • Apollo Reyes

    Totally agree!!! I was even more scared of the dude kicking him down . . . he did not have a harness at all !!! I was on the edge of my seat watching how they staged the shot!!! Amazing . . .

  • pepon66

    Very interesting work mr Li Wei… your pictures are amazing…

  • Richmo58

    Photoshop Kicks Ass! Rock On -

  • Geo

    @Daniel Kramer You are wrong, the skinny guys doesn’t matter.. the rope seems strong and it is twisted on the post. Since it is twisted only very less energy is required to be applied by the guys.

  • Gene

    Also that’s not a fatal fall (unless you’re unlucky and land just wrong on your neck) – there’s another roof one story below. They’re risking broken bones of course, but not quite the same on the insane-o-meter.

  • Lain Freefall

    fuckin rad!

  • Sarah

    Incredible – not sure about just a piece of rope holding the guy over the edge!?

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  • George

    Because he doesn’t turn some dials and presses a button he’s¬†uninteresting? All the planning comes directly from him, I’d say that a good idea wins every time. It’s not as if only photographers are interesting people.¬†

  • Anthony

    Watch the video at 7:40. It’s a LONG way down.
    Very high on the insane-o-meter to do it with some rope held in someone’s hands.