“Behind the Camera” is an interview series with photographers focused on street photography and documentary photography in Shanghai. Through this, I hope to cultivate a wide spectrum of voices and perspectives on shooting in the streets in China: foreign and local photogs, film and digital, Modern China vs China of the past, traditional vs abstract composition.
Not all are professional photographers. Some are serious enthusiasts who are dedicated to documenting an aspect of Shanghai or China that I hope people will notice. I also believe this to be a good opportunity for people (myself included) to learn about different photographers’ processes behind their style and work.
If readers have questions they would like for the photographers to discuss or recommendations of photographers they would like to be featured, you can write me via my Contact Sheet.
Interview with Howard W. French on his “Disappearing Shanghai” series
Howard W. French is an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was the bureau chief of the New York Times’ Shanghai office from 2003-08, as part of a 22-year career as a foreign correspondent. His most widely exhibited work, “Disappearing Shanghai”, documents the life of neighborhoods “doomed to imminent extinction” as he describes it. French’s work is evocative in its quiet dignity and intimacy with his subjects, like one old soul talking to another.
Interview with Katya Knyazeva on documenting Old Town (老城厢) in Shanghai
Katya Knyazeva is a journalist, book designer and fine artist from Russia. Her illustrated books and graphic novel have been published in Korea, and a book about Shanghai’s Old Town is on the way. She writes about cuisine, culture and urban form, and documents Shanghai’s neighborhoods using vintage cameras. For 3.5 years, Katya has been dedicated to capturing details of the city’s historical houses and its facades, researching its history and sharing it with the public.
Interview with 席子 (Xi Zi) on documenting Shanghai’s longtang and shikumen (中英文）
席子 (Xi Zi) is part of a group of local photographers actively documenting the fast disappearing neighborhoods of Shanghai. Widely published in China, he is familiar with almost every street in his home city, the history of the neighborhoods and architectural style of the shikumens. With a personal archive of close to 30k photographs, his work reflects a determination to record and keep alive, a conversation about the city’s living history.
Interview with 唐颖 (Tang Ying) on street photography in Shanghai (中英文）
唐颖 (Tang Ying) is a Shanghai native and has studied in Japan and the US. Ying honed her street photography while working in San Francisco as a freelance cameraperson and video editor. She later studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography and the School of Photography of C.C.S.F. Her work has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine and she has worked for The New York Times, IHT and Shanghai TV Magazine. Her street photography is filled with stories that sparkle with action and wit, a reflection of a unique perspective and style.
Interview with Tim Franco on photographing Urban Shanghai
Tim Franco is a Franco-Polish photographer based in Shanghai, working mainly with analog film cameras, particularly on large formats. Among his projects is a comprehensive depiction of the growth of the alternative music scene in China, resulting in “Shanghai Soundbites”, published in 2008. He is also well known for his architectural photography, ranging from his stunning capture of the Shanghai Expo-related Pavilions to his portrayal of Shanghai’s cityscape and skyline that are brought to life through his medium of choice and individual perspective.
Interview with 蜕(Tui) on the relationship between the city and street photography (中英文）
蜕(Tui) is a Shanghai-based street photographer and one of the many contributors of the Chinese street photo blog Zaijietou (在街头 or ‘in the streets’). His work, shot exclusively on film, is strongly emotive and instinctive which result in arresting, haunting and moody images. Tui talks about his relationship with Shanghai and how the city has influenced his work, his dedication to film and his views on street photography in China.
A look at the talent behind zaijietou.com (在街头）(中英文）
Zaijietou (在街头）or literally “on the street” is a street photography blog that is home to over 60 street photographers from all over China, largely concentrated in Shanghai. A coterie of unique perspectives and insights, Zaijietou is administered by Liu Miao (刘淼). Liu Miao shares the blog’s intentions and more (link here), and I feature voices of some talent street photographers (link here). Their collective work for Shanghai Photographers Night can be viewed here.
Interview with Ishi Mak on photographing Shanghai’s architectural heritage
Ishi Mak (麦宇斯) is a dedicated photographer of Shanghai’s architectural heritage with a style reminiscent of Japanese minimalism. Widely known on Flickr as シャッターBUG, he captures what remains of Shanghai’s vanishing heritage structures, showcasing their beauty and elegance as deserved. Ishi’s attention to the photographic process and reverence for his subject detail are reflected in his tightly edited and timeless work.
Interview with Jack Simon on street photography from San Francisco to Shanghai
Based outside of San Francisco, Jack Simon’s widely exhibited street photography is composed of wonderful juxtapositions of people and their surrounding elements. Whether it is an intentional or coincidental (mis)alignment of light, shadows, reflections or movement, his work has the ability to tickle and perplex at the same time. Here, Jack shares his journey into street photography, shooting in the diverse neighborhoods of San Francisco and his impressions of his first visit to China.
Interview with Tan Tien Yun on capturing Shanghai’s rural face
Tan Tien Yun (陈天昀) is an engineer by trade, a documentary photographer by curiosity, and a self described humanist by passion. By integrating with the people, culture and environment before lifting his camera, his works reflect in intimate detail the people’s emotional attachment and adaptations with their chaotic environment, the harsh reality of their way of life and the collective emotions of simply living. Currently, he is documenting the local rural folk as they try to adapting in the rapidly industrialising Minhang district in Shanghai.
Interview with Anton Hazenwinkel on “Beijing Walks of Life”
Anton Hazewinkel’s dedication in depicting the wide spectrum of Beijing’s society is impressive. Be it the art collector next door, the punk rock band member or the frustrated unemployed, Hazewinkel portrays his subjects with great care and technique. He adopts various mediums which lends breadth and depth to the stories but it is his patience that illicits remarkable honesty from his subjects. Here, he shares with us about telling the tales of Beijing’s remarkable residents, his portraiture work and panoramic sweeps.
Interview with Yosuke Ishizuka (石塚洋介) on the act of photography
Caio Yosuke Ishizuka (石塚洋介) is a Japanese Ph.D candidate in Shanghai studying the role of photographers in advocating social movements across East Asia. He is also an editor for Taiwanese photography magazine, Voices of Photography. In addition to his academic and writing pursuits, Yosuke dabbles in street photography, yet seriously contemplating about the process and what he deems the “conflicting” relationship between photographer and subject. A very dedicated and thoughtful individual with plenty to share with our readers. Website: Glances