Slideshow of Dongjiadu Migrant Village

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Migrant Village Slideshow – Prepared this for my students…still in rough form…

The Migrant Recyclers – finally getting some pics up!

•November 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Finally made it back to Beijing, and – while I was working and didn’t have time for a full-scale photo or video project, I did get to return to this issue of Beijing’s migrant recycler communities. Spent a few afternoons biking around the Qianbajia/Houbajia migrant communities next to Tsinghua University in NE Beijing and was able to talk to some folks, take some photos, and share some prints.  (To add insult to injury, the government is currently demolishing this neighborhood to make way for a new luxury development).  Anyway, I experimented a bit to see how best to tell the story of these folks.  First method: started out shooting pics from the side of the road, which captures their constant movement nicely, but also drew some unhappy looks from the people riding by (as well as occasional waves and smiles).  Hard to engage with them when they are going by so fast…

I then tried riding alongside them on my bike, waving to say hello when I could, and then shooting as I rode.  Dangerous – don’t recommend it, though it felt more authentic.

Third method was to attach the 5D (sorry Peichi!) to the back of my bike facing behind me, inside a bag so that just the lens stuck out, and to shoot with a remote trigger.  This involves careful planning, but is a bit more safe.  I felt like the photos more closely capture reality, with the bike drivers unaware of the camera, but the tradeoff was that it felt somewhat voyouristic and doesn’t match with my idea of engaging people…

I also stopped a lot to chat with folks, and frequently took pictures after meeting someone (or they took my picture as in this case) and then shared a print via my pocket-size Polariod “Pogo” printer…



my dream – the children of yuxin migrant school

•September 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

experimenting with photo illustrations…

•September 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As I think about how to best tell the “Dongjiadu – Lives Dismantled” story, I have been playing around with ideas like turning my photos into illustrations something like this….






The “Dongjiadu – Lives Dismantled” Project

•September 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, I didn’t make it to Beijing this summer and have a chance to do my migrant recyclers project, but I did come across some interesting photo stories while spending a few weeks in Shanghai.  My study abroad students were to spend a week teaching at a migrant school in the historic “Dongjiadu” neighborhood – but when we arrived we found that the neighborhood surrounding the school was in the process of being torn down to clean up what is viewed as a “ghetto” neighborhood emberassingly too close to World Expo 2010 site. It’s slated to become the site of a new high-rise development.  The Chinese character “huai” – to tear down or dismantle – is stenciled and splashed in paint on both the inside and outside of these historic “shikumen” neighborhood homes to remind the residents that there time is limited.  In some cases residents had nowhere else to go and refused to be evicted – their half-demolished homes still standing in defiance of the new developments…I’m still trying to figure out how I want to compile this story – but here’s a few images to get started….




More migrant schools projects…

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It wasn’t till the fifth and final day of our service project with the Shanghai migrants schools that, listening to the students share their career dreams, I had this idea:



I love shooting in schools where there are walls of windows providing perfect natural lighting…

Migrant Schoolkids get a “photo voice”

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Did a fun project last year in China that I hope I can expand this year.  During the course of a service-learning program in some Shanghai migrant schools we had the schoolkids use the college students’ digital cameras to document their lives.  For many of the kids this was the first time they had used a digital camera, but I was quite amazed at how quickly they picked it up and how creative they were with their images and their photo directing.  Perhaps it has something to do with the idea suggested in the education research that “disadvantaged” kids often excel in  spacial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences…



“The Journey” – a rough cut of my study abroad video project…

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s the latest draft of the study abroad “journey” video I shot last summer in China with my little Canon HV20 and a Letus adaptor that let me use my Canon SLR lenses.  The editing is still quite rough (ah, if only I spent as much time actually editing as I spent trying to get Adobe Premier to work….), but we’ll see if I can find the time to finish it up.  (Be sure to click on the bottom right tab “watch in HD.”

More on China’s trash collectors…

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

While I was in Shanghai last summer my hotel was just around the corner from an urban recycling center, presenting a good opportunity to learn a bit about the life of China’s trash collectors.  For these folks, most of whom are illegal residents of the cities they call home, there are few options or resources for things like child care. A woman working at this center was kind enough to babysit this little girl for a few minutes while  her mom unloaded the bicycle.  Then it was back to the road….



Upcoming project – “Life on Three Wheels”

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’m starting to get excited about my next photo project! For several year’s now I’ve been wanting to do a series of photos documenting the lives of one of China’s most marginalized populations – the “sanlunche” (three-wheeled bike) trash recyclers.  In Beijing alone there are over 120,000 people recycling rubbish, mostly from poor regions outside the city. It is a pretty brutal existence, just to make $4 or $5 US dollars a day, though they are doing better than some.  As you can see in this photo from a 2007 trip to Beijing, at times the whole family spends their day from dawn to dusk on the back of a bike hauling trash from the center of the city out to the suburbs where the trash recycling centers are located (I waved at the kids – that’s how I got the smile…).


Anyway, this summer I’ll spend a full month in Beijing for work, and I hope to spend some learning about these folks and trying to tell some of their stories through photos.  I’m still trying to figure out how to get just the right perspective, and will share some of my ideas after I’m back (don’t want to give them away quite yet…)