50mm 1/2500th @ f/2.2 ISO 400 Canon EOS 5D Mark II
China Like No Other
A decade of travelling to China with camera in hand finishes this year. I have been fortunate to enjoy so much of "Old China", so much so that I'm finding it difficult to embrace the new version. All good things must come to an end.
Guizhou province is home dozens of ethnic minorities, hidden into the undulating landscape of terraced rice fields and steep valleys. It's a treasure, a province that embraced the lost cultures of China from successive dynasties and gave them a home.
One of my favourite places in Guizhou is Xijiang, a Miao village built from timber and hugged by the curve of a river. When I first visited Xijiang I had to first reach the city of Kaili and then drive another 6 hours into the mountains. The Chinese built a new highway and reduced the road time to just one hour, making it a popular day trip for hordes of visitors passing through Kaili. Things change.
All over China the modernisation of a nation is pushing aside these quiet locations that photographers like myself enjoy best. The easier they are to reach, the more popular they are to visit and the more flooded by domestic tourism they become. Old town all over China are being turned into theme parks. Buy a ticket, pose with girls in ethnic costumes and take your photos.
In September last year I visited my favourite rice terraces near Guilin, a place that requires an hour walking up hill from where the road ends. At least it used to. As of this summer a new chair-lift is in operation, making it easy for exercise challenged tourists to get up high into the scenery. The moment I saw the chair lift under construction I knew in my heart that my time in China was coming to an end.
I'm reminded of the old gag about Coney Island, "That place is so popular, nobody goes there anymore."
New China is not always a tacky theme park replica of Old China. Shanghai is a brilliant beacon that leads the nation forward, indeed the world. You don't head to Shanghai in search of rice paddies, you come for a glimpse of the future, to taste fine Chinese cuisine and to indulge in contemporary artistic expressions.
Once you let go of Old China there is an opportunity to enjoy the sassy and shiny new version. It's not the China I reflect on in my photo collection, it's another country entirely. The world changes and I am grateful to have had my decade of China before this one.
Some people wanted to know why I am no longer running tours in China, so I hope this will paint an accurate picture. I hope to spend a little time with New China in the coming years, but probably not for too many photography tours.
Please Share Your Thoughts
JUST THE FACTS
A few images from my most recent travels in China:
There's more to photography than just the camera. Looking at the bigger picture is good for your development.
Most of the time our clients are wonderful people to work with, because we're helping each other to get where we need to be. But sometimes you end up with a client who actually doesn't value your work at all, and that's a problem in more ways than you might imagine.
Do You Care About AI
The fundamental differences between machine learning and human artistic expression is not something you can teach. It's something you have to experience. That's always going to be the bridge that AI cannot cross.
Photography is My Family
Someone recently commented to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!” Which seemed kind of funny because most of the time I feel like I’m not doing nearly enough. I’m also aware how lucky I am to have the luxury of dedicating myself to my photography in a way that not everyone can. It’s not that I don’t have time for friends and family, it's just that photography IS my family.
Life Without The Algorithm
There's more to photography than being popular. Being genuine counts for something too. In the new frontier of the Fediverse the focus is on enjoying your craft instead of being crafted by the algorithm.
Take it Slow at the Night Market
Last week I shared a series of stills from the Queen Victoria Market, from the reopening of the Night Market. This time I've gone back with my very modest video rig to capture a slow-motion series using the high-speed ability of the Lumix G9 and a single lens.
Free Advice for New Beginnings
If you've suddenly found yourself in the freelance market, or have a very small business that needs to be online instead of on-site, then starting up a web presence is key to your future. I'm offering my time and expertise to help strangers get started on this journey. No charge, I just want to be helpful to other people who are struggling.
Ewen's Photography Book
"ReIMAGINE" is now available to order online. It's a very big and very generous book that will help you to reconnect with your creative side.