Where did the inspiration for your studio come from? My father is a great Peking Opera fan, but he never had the chance to perform on stage. I sought to realise his dream of being photographed as a Peking Opera character with the help of professionals who lent me costumes and painted makeup on him. I was stunned by the splendour of Peking Opera and became obsessed with it. I opened this studio in 2000. What makes your studio unique? I invite teachers from Peking Opera troupes to do professional makeup for our patrons. They tell people opera-related knowledge during the makeup process, and also instruct them on how to pose according to the different roles they represent when shooting photos. We do all this so our patrons experience the same procedure that professional Peking Opera actors go through before performing on stage. The curtain-raiser process is an important - if not the most essential - part of our work. Who are your customers? In the first two years, it was mainly devout fans of Peking Opera. As time has passed, more young people have come to have photos taken. It seems that most of them do it because they feel it's fun and fashionable. Do you think that by taking photos, young people will become interested in Peking Opera? I used to think Peking Opera was boring and outdated. My conversion really came at the moment I saw my father all dressed up as an actor. I believe by shooting photos, applying makeup to people and giving them some opera tips, such as the history relating to the costumes they wear, people will become more interested. What difficulties do you have in running your studio? I've found it's getting harder to manage the studio. On one hand, there are fewer patrons now. With fewer young Peking Opera fans, the market is declining. On the other hand, there seems to be a trend today that people will not, or say they are not willing to, buy something unless there is a discount. The same is to be said about the people who come to my studio. It is causing me trouble. The biggest problem is that Peking Opera is not prosperous today. We need opera masters like Mei Lanfang to revitalise the market. But actually we don't have such opera greats. It's no wonder the consumer group is shrinking. Have you realised your initial objective in running your studio? I've achieved my objective in providing a platform for more people to get to know Peking Opera better. I have met some problems in sustaining the studio. I pay more than 20,000 yuan rent annually, and I must renew the costumes every year, each of which usually costs me 6,000 yuan or so. Yes, I could get rid of the stage in our studio, thereby reducing space and rent, or I could use less expensive cosmetics and less delicate costumes, and not invite experts from opera troupes. But I don't want to do this. Anyhow, it would not be Peking Opera any more.