What I’m reading

Shanghai’s benevolent and beautiful spring weather is upon us, so get out there and enjoy it before the humidity and heat inflict their seasonal cruelty come June. Now, I may moan endlessly about the incessant dust and grime in Shanghai but good grief, a recent transition through Beijing made me realize how serious the smog problem there really was. Without the sun, how do photographers play with light and shadows? Thank god, we still (sometimes) have that in Shanghai!

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve missed my litany of China and photography-related links. Below is a short round up of a few from the Shanghai Street Stories’ Facebook page. You can follow me there for more links.

– Turns out The Dude (actor Jeff Bridges, for those who have not yet soaked up his awesomeness in movie, “The Big Lebowski”) is a photographer, armed with a Widelux camera, a fully mechanical swing-lens panoramic camera, which only ups Bridges’ cool factor.

“The Widelux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality. I like that. It’s something I aspire to in all my work — a lack of preciousness that makes things more human and honest, a willingness to receive what’s there in the moment and to let go of the result. Getting out of the way seems to be one of the main tasks for me as an artist.”

I’d love to get my hands on his book “Pictures”, a collection of all his work photographed on all his movie sets. I recommend spending time on Bridges’ website, one word: “awesome”. I actually think it’s made up of his real handwriting.

– Italian photographer Michele Palazzi explored the theme of migration and the disconnect from nomadic culture for many Mongolians. A very memorable and almost romantic piece of work. He was also the 2013 winner of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s Environmental Photographer of the Year Award.

– Al Jazeera profiles ‘The New African Photography’ in a 6-Episode series, showcasing how a new generation of African photographers are celebrating the region’s attributes, while remaining unflinchingly honest about the real problems facing their countries. I believe the first episode looks at Nigerian photographer Emeka Okereke is the founder of Invisible Borders, an annual photographic project that takes African artists on a road trip across the continent.

– Li Zhensheng was a photojournalist for the local paper in Harbin where he did his life’s work documenting the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. At the time, he was to capture only the “positive” images of sweeping fervor among the “jubilant masses” including the Red Army. But he hid thousands of negatives of denunciations and criticism sessions that shed blood and ripped apart families and friends. New York Times’ Lens featured his panoramic work of the Cultural Revolution here. He was interviewed here (at 18:40 minutes) of this “China Rising” documentary by Al Jazeera.


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