Meet Luo Hong, internationally renowned photographer and environmental activist

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 17 March 2024 at 11:14

In a small town of China’s Sichuan Province, nestled within the foothills of the Hengduan Mountains, a dream was born in 1967. This wasn’t just any dream, but that of a young boy named Luo Hong, who aspired to immortalize the ephemeral beauty of nature through his lens.

His story unfurls with a blend of ambition, pastry, and an unyielding commitment to the environment, weaving the extraordinary journey of a man who baked his cake and photographed it too.

At the tender age of 17, Luo Hong ventured alone to Chengdu, a city that promised to nurture his photographic dreams. However, life, with its peculiar sense of humor, served him a slice of unpredictability.

At 25, unable to find a birthday cake that met his exacting standards for his mother, Luo inadvertently founded the bakery chain "Hollyland." Little did he know, this venture was merely a detour, not a departure, from his true calling.

The year 1995 marked Luo’s rekindled passion for photography, prompting a journey across western China’s vast landscapes. Yet, it was his accidental voyage to South Africa in 2001 that profoundly shook him, expanding his canvas to the ends of the earth.

From the polar chill of Antarctica to the vibrant ecosystems of South America, Luo’s lens captured the planet’s heart, visiting Africa 54 times, the Antarctic twice, the Arctic Circle four times, South America four times, and North America 10 times.

Luo’s relentless pursuit of beauty earned him an invitation from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2006, making him the first Chinese to hold a personal photography exhibition at the United Nations.

That same year, he established the "Luo Hong Environmental Protection Fund," pioneering personal philanthropy at the UN as a Chinese national.

His initiative, the "China Children’s Environmental Protection Education Plan," engaged 23 million Chinese children, earning acclaim as the world’s largest children’s environmental education activity.

The accolades didn’t stop there. In 2009, Luo was christened a Global "Climate Hero" by the United Nations, a title bestowed upon only five individuals worldwide, making him the sole recipient from the Asia-Pacific region.

His environmental crusade further received the Kenyan President’s nod in 2011 with the "Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear" (MBS) medal, a first for a foreigner that year.

Amid these accolades, Luo’s magnum opus was taking shape. By 2010, dedicating six years and all his life’s work, he founded the "Luo Hong Photography Art Museum."

Spanning 180 acres, this museum is a triptych of nature’s and ingenuity’s beauty, comprising the Photography Exhibition Hall, the Oriental Garden Landscape Group, and the Black Swan Cake Art Museum.

The Luo Hong Photography Art Museum stands as a monument to the convergence of art, nature, and education. Within its expansive 5500 square meters, the Luo Hong Photography Works Exhibition Hall houses a vast collection of Luo’s photographs, capturing the ethereal beauty of natural landscapes and wild animals.

These images, often taken from a helicopter, offer a divine perspective of the Earth’s unparalleled splendor. Luo’s dedication to showcasing the planet’s beauty is evident through his extensive travels, including 54 trips to Africa, two expeditions to Antarctica, and several journeys across the Americas, all aimed at photographing wildlife and breathtaking sceneries such as the emperor penguins and Patagonia’s peaks and autumn hues.

Adjacent to the exhibition hall lies the Oriental Garden Landscape Group, a serene assembly designed by an Australian architect and further enhanced by the descendants of a renowned Korean gardening family. Over 30 traditional stone craftsmen from Shandong were commissioned to create intricate stone art, adding to the garden’s tranquility and aesthetic appeal.

The museum’s third jewel, the Black Swan Cake Art Museum, is a creation of the acclaimed Japanese artist and architect Dejin Yoshioka. Themed "Touch of Life," this section merges the art of pastry with visual art, forming a sanctuary that celebrates the delicate interplay between life’s sweetness and its fleeting nature.

Founded with the noble aim of inspiring children with the beauty of nature and art, the Luo Hong Photography Art Museum has been welcoming those under fifteen for free since its inauguration.

This policy underlines Luo’s belief in the transformative power of art and nature on young minds, making the museum not just an art space but a vibrant educational hub.

On September 15, 2020, Luo fulfilled a lifelong dream by undertaking an aerial photography project across western China. Starting from Gongga Mountain in Sichuan, his journey covered the Daocheng Yading Three Sacred Mountains, Meili Snow Mountain in Yunnan, and several peaks in Tibet, including the illustrious Kailash.

Despite the physical toll and the recurrence of a lumbar injury, Luo’s resolve remained unshaken. The majestic vistas of his homeland brought him to tears, instilling a profound sense of pride and renewing his commitment to share China’s beauty with the world.

This endeavor, he proclaims, is his most challenging yet rewarding creation, a testament to the beauty that his homeland harbors, ready to be shared through his lens with the world.

This Art Museum was established in 2010.
The Oriental Garden Landscape was designed by an Australian architect and further enhanced by the descendants of a renowned Korean gardening family.
Adjacent to the exhibition hall lies the Oriental Garden Landscape Group.
Over 30 traditional stone craftsmen from Shandong were commissioned to create intricate stone art, adding to the garden's tranquility and aesthetic appeal.
At the entrance of the museum's exhibition, one can see pictures of Meet Luo Hong with high profile personalities at different moments.
A visitor posing for a photo inside the photography museum.
Luo Hong Photography Art Museum welcomes people from different age brackets.
Some of photographs exhibited at Luo Hong Photography Art Museum.