History, Culture, People
World Photographers Focusing on Beijing
The 50 foreign photographers from 24 countries
and 20 Chinese photographers could not have come
to Beijing at a better time of year -- glorious,
sunny May, with its attendant greening of nature
and the warming of hearts after a cruel winter. To
the visitors, the city appeared more
high-rise-modern, colorful and beautiful than they
could have imagined, and its 13 million people as
friendly and welcoming as it is possible to be.
The invitees were in the Chinese capital to take
part in a seven-day exercise called "World
Photographers Focusing on Beijing", the idea
being to capture all possible facets of the
capital and its citizens and to help show what, in
a broad sense, makes it tick. In short, to
collectively produce a kind of photographic
microcosm which forms the content of this book.
To say the guests were astonished and excited by
the photographic potential offered by the capital,
and the warm cooperation of its officials and
citizens, would be an understatement. One lens man
went so far as to describe Beijing and its people
as a "Pictorial goldmine", and judging
by the results overall, he was right.
From the photographers' point of view, it was a
challenge indeed to "Shoot" the
countless aspects of Beijing in a mere seven days.
But like the good professionals they are, they
rose to it handsomely, with the great skills and
techniques that place them among the world's best.
In its 13 districts and five counties, Beijing has
countless places of historical, cultural,
architectural and social interest. For example,
three sections of the Great Wall -- at Badaling,
Mutianyu and Simatai -- are within its boundaries.
We need not here describe this wonder of the
world, other than acknowledge the old Chinese
saying that "You have to climb the Great Wall
to be a man". Many have, many still do,
including some of the foreign photographers.
They also discovered and recorded the stunning
attractions of places like Beihai Park, the Temple
of Heaven, Yuanmingyuan and Yonghegong. On the
cultural front, they embraced the Peking Opera and
much else that is uniquely Chinese. And like
countless visitors before them, they were able to
at least gain an insight into the country's
historical splendors and to meet and photograph
ordinary people in their natural surroundings.
These subjects in particular prove the old adage
that a good picture is worth a thousand words.
The photographers were equally fascinated by old
hutongs (residential alleys and lanes) and
courtyards which, they agreed, "Breathe
history in every stone" but which, to their
surprise, are often just a stone's throw from a
modern highway. There is no better example of the
mix of ancient and modern that exemplifies
It is tempting to list all the places, people and
other subjects focused on by the guests from
overseas, but we feel it best to simply let their
pictures do all the talking on how they saw
Beijing. Certainly they continually voiced their
surprise at Beijing's architectural modernity and
the "Swinging" fashions and values of
young people, though not to the latter's detriment,
for they were equally impressed by their optimism
about the future and their determination -- like
that of their parents -- to help make Beijing an
acknowledged world metropolis.
Some of the photographers have already published
their pictures and thoughts about their visit,
thus enlightening people in their home countries.
Without exception, all of these reports were warm
towards Beijing and its people and China in
general. While naturally each photographer put his
or her own spin and technique into their pictures,
they were of common accord in seeing the Beijing
that made them so welcome as: "vibrant,
hopeful city to which we all one day want to
There could be no higher compliment.
Culture, People - World Photographers Focusing on Beijing
Photo Album, 240 pages
Price: 400 yuan/copy
More than 50 foreign and 20 Chinese photographers came to Beijing for a seven-day
exercise called "World Photographers Focusing on Beijing", the idea
being to capture all possible facets of the capital and its citizens
and to help show what, in a broad sense, makes it tick. In short, to
collectively produce a kind of photographic microcosm which forms the
content of this book.
Edited by Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchanges