In Street Photography Expect the Unexpected~ Yunnan

 

the wagon ride

the wagon ride

After about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai to Kunming in Yunnan and sorting out the small inevitable complications like changing cars, drivers, lunch and settling everyone to a journey of unexpected events, we set off to our first stop on the workshop, the town of Shiping.

After a first night not short of adventure and discovery in the streets of the old town, we set off in the morning with the freedom one gets after leaving a questionable hotel without having to look back.

girl in wagon~ Yunnan

girl in wagon

All packed, cameras charged, armed with snacks and water bottles we set off only to discover that our bus (that we grew to love) had a flat tire. We were informed that the repairs will take longer than expected. When asked why, the answer was “people in these parts are just not efficient enough”. I swallowed the answered and decided to make the best of a bad situation.

I invited everyone to use the 2 hours to explore and we found ourselves in an unforgettable market! Photo opportunities everywhere, people, children, faces, color, it was wonderful.

on a scale of old to new

on a scale of old to new

During the time there, I was utterly charmed by a group of children who followed me around jumping, giggling, acting silly, jumping into every frame I tried to create. It then dawned in me that the best thing to do would be to just stop trying and instead of capture life, just live it. I played with them and my students photographed them and the whole affair was effervescent and a special gift to start the journey with.

how they stole the show and my heart

how they stole the show and my heart

Saima and Petra with the children

Saima and Petra with the children

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

It is wonderful to be reliving the adventure in Honghe through the stories and images as I busily plan the next one in Dali this coming June.

 

 

The Moment of Truth

earlier this afternoon, just when the sun was ready to sail back home

earlier this afternoon, just when the sun was ready to sail back home

There is a moment, a split second, when you are with your camera in the streets, and a moment you were hoping for surrenders itself to you. I am referring to that brief time before your subject has a time to react to your lens. I love that magical click that finds the person inside of their essence; a line of connection between you, the lens and the person.

The Comforts of Anonymity

passer by~ Shanghai alley

passer by~ Shanghai alley

Anonymia, Greek for nameless, the state of us urban dwellers to each other. This suggests that our names define us and and who we have become in so many different ways. Being a stranger in the big city can be so comforting to those of us who opt for this lifestyle. We can be who we want to be if we choose to; those that don’t know us cannot fix us with their preconceptions, and this gives us room to grow and to change if we are so inclined.

Yes, it might be time for a name change…

Summer in the old alley~ Shanghai

smoking his way through the last hot days of summer

smoking his way through the last hot days of summer

Each time I start a new walk into one of the old alleys of Shanghai, I feel as though I am entering another world where simple life, community feeling, tradition and open communication thrive. There is a charm to the old alleys and a distinct sense of nostalgia that makes them so attractive and keeps me coming back. As long as they are there, the spirit and essence of Shanghai continue to live on.

The urban flow~ Shanghai

an urban moving story~ Shanghai

an urban moving story~ Shanghai-2 an urban moving story~ Shanghai-3 Big cities have this way of resembling beehives, busy, constantly moving. Most of these urban centers are jarring, fast, harsh, noisy, and unforgiving to all that is slow. Not Shanghai. Shanghai has a gentle flow about it, where people just glide by on their bicycles, slow enough to examine life around them and nod with recognition at friends in their neighborhood. A bicycle and tricycle culture, so much is moved around on wheels. As long as tradition lasts, this will be (at least to me) the greatest charm of Shanghai.

Behind the glitzy face of Shanghai

gambling women behind barred windows

gambling women behind barred windows

residents of the old and slowly vanishing alleys

a resident of the old and slowly vanishing alleys

a witness of the whirlwind of changes that took over the glamorous city.

a witness of the whirlwind of changes that took over the glamorous city

Behind the modern facade of Shanghai and the fashionable lifestyle of its rich, is a world of tradition hidden in the city’s old alleys. Every week when I visit these neighborhoods, I find less and less of them left. The city is changing so rapidly and the new has no room for the old. Modernization is consuming tradition and Starbucks cups are quickly replacing the famous tea containers of the Shanghainese. A paradise for street photographers, I feel so lucky to have lived in Shanghai as long as I have.

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

Every stitch on her costume, every threaded bead she decorates herself with, every wrinkle on her face plays a part in telling her story, a life so different to ours, a world so alien to 21st century culture, an existence rising out of old traditions, she belongs to a tribe that allows strangers no access. All I could capture was the sense of her presence and the few photographs that I always hope could link to the state of standing in front of these amazing people.

The clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

the clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

the clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

Men puffing out tobacco smoke has become such a common daily sight for us living in China, people smoke in the rain, on bikes, while working, in classrooms, and sometimes even while eating! Yunnan was no different. The ladies smoked their pipes leisurely while the men smoked cigarettes and water pipes. The tobacco fields can be seen spread out for miles around the valleys and mountainous regions of Yunnan and the smoking traditions thrives.

This man was sitting in a small one room restaurant in a marketplace and he enjoyed his tobacco while I photographed him feeling almost proud and theatrically demonstrating his skill at exhaling the clouds above his head.