In 2012, wedding photographer Cafa Liu emigrated to Canada from China, where he was born and raised. With his wife, he now makes his home in the city of Richmond Hill, just north of the Toronto metropolitan area. The couple’s son is now in college, majoring in new media.
Asked what is amazing about him, Cafa says not much—except perhaps doing the seemingly impossible thing of becoming a professional wedding photographer! As a child, his dream was to become a painter or a writer; unfortunately, he had little time or opportunity to test whether he might be talented in those areas specifically. Happily, the work that now supports his family also nurtures his innate creative side. “It turned out that this was more than a job,” he says. “It’s not only something that I live by, but also something I live for.”
Cafa cites his belief in an old Chinese proverb: “Everybody is born to be useful.” With that in mind, he strives to be the best at the things he knows he can do well, even if it doesn’t work out the first time. “If there is something I am trying and trying, that means I believe I can get it right,” he says. He also notes that he defines “getting it right” as satisfying his own standards, rather than those set by others. “Never follow the opinions and suggestions of others,” he suggests—especially when it comes to the specific details of making images. After all, no one knows how to take a Cafa picture like Cafa.
Asked what defines a “Cafa photo,” he says it’s all about capturing the most important moment happening at any given time on the wedding day—and doing so honestly, from his unique perspective. “I think it’s ‘me’ that makes my work stand out,” he says. “I am myself and try to be as honest as I can. I do not cater to anyone else’s standards and rules.” When evaluating his own images, Cafa says the ones that hold the deepest appeal are those where he sees his creative influence at work. “I don’t consider a photo to be my ‘best’ if anyone could have made it—and I captured it just because I happened to be there. The reason an image stands out to me is because of how much ‘me’ is in it.”
For Cafa, this perspective ties in closely with what it means to be fearless. “Don’t be afraid to be yourself,” he says. “That’s the only way to add value to your work. Many people understand this but very few people do it.”
Cafa Liu | Canada | Fearless since 2014