Depth of Field

11.16.18

Where Do Bicycles Go When They Die?

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this issue of Depth of Field: the dying art of tomb burials; bike graveyards; and a son’s 20,000 photos of his mother.

A Glimpse of Life along China’s Border with North Korea

Laura Mallonee
Wired
When Elijah Hurwitz checked into the Hilton Garden Inn in Dandong, China, he knew his room would have an extraordinary view: The hotel sits near the banks of the Yalu River overlooking North Korea. Out the window, a caravan of trucks with North...

Depth of Field

06.29.17

Love, Robots, and Fireworks

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Included in this Depth of Field column are stories of love, community, remembrance, and the future, told through the discerning eyes of some of China’s best photojournalists. Among them, the lives of African migrants in Guangzhou, seven years inside...

Depth of Field

01.17.17

House Calls on the Tibetan Plateau, Children of Divorce, Celebrity Secrets

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
In the final galleries of 2016, the publishing juggernaut Tencent again shows its leadership in the documentary photography space, but iFeng’s choice to publish a personal photo gallery by Zhou Xin is also worth a good look, especially since...

Step Inside China’s Hellish, Illicit Steel Factories

Laura Mallonee
Wired
Kevin Frayer's photographs of illegal Chinese steel factories look like postcards from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution ...

Depth of Field

12.06.16

From West Africa, the Czech Republic, and Home

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this month’s Depth of Field, Chinese photojournalists explore foreign terrain, both beyond China’s borders and within them. Independent photographer Yuyang Liu traveled the open seas to document the lives of Chinese and African workers who fish...

Living in China’s Expanding Deserts

Josh Haner, Edward Wong, Derek Watkins...
New York Times
People on the edges of the country’s vast seas of sand are being displaced by climate change

Photo Gallery

08.23.16

The Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography

In 2014, ChinaFile and the Magnum Foundation founded the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography to support photographers working to address pressing social issues impacting China and its relations with the world that have not received...

Depth of Field

07.01.16

Tornados and Drag Queens

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Being a photojournalist involves reacting to breaking news, a dedication to long-term projects, and everything in between. This month’s showcase of work by Chinese photographers published in Chinese media underscores this range of angles: from the...

Caixin Media

06.03.16

Bearing Witness to the China Story

Sheila Melvin
In 1993, Fritz Hoffmann was a young American photojournalist ready for a new adventure. He had honed his picture-making skills while hitchhiking across the Pacific Northwest, harvesting crabs in Alaska, and working at newspapers in West Virginia and...

Depth of Field

04.29.16

April’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Over the past few weeks, the publications Sina, Tencent, Caixin, China Youth Daily, and the publishing duo Sixth Tone/The Paper published photo stories on the intimate, the industrial, the private, and the political. Journalists Yan Cong and Ye Ming...

Depth of Field

04.03.16

Meet ‘Depth of Field’: The Month’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Welcome to ChinaFile’s inaugural “Depth of Field” column. In collaboration with Yuanjin Photo, an independent photo blog published by photographers Yan Cong and Ye Ming on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, we will highlight new and...

‘Eyes on China’: Illuminating Life Across a Changing Country

Edward Wong
New York Times
Two photographers living in China set up a collective Instagram account.

Postcard

11.13.15

The Watch

Hai Zhang
On a trip back to China in 2011, photographer Hai Zhang came across a crowd in the People’s Square of Wushan, a town outside of Chongqing. People had gathered to watch a gala sponsored by a local real estate developer to promote his new residential...

Showing Another Side of China - via Instagram

Celia Hatton
BBC
One night last spring, two veteran photojournalists working in Beijing came up with an interesting idea.

20 Photos That Show How Insanely Crowded China Has Become

Jack Sommer
Business Insider
China has reportedly dropped its long-standing one-child policy, which was first enacted decades ago in an effort to curb overpopulation.The current population rests at around 1.4 billion after having the policy in place for over 35 years. Only time...

From Amateur to Professional: A 25-Year Photographic Journey

Mark Leong
National Geographic
These old photos are a record of a time now gone, not just for a developing China but also for an updated version of myself. 

A Bold New Instagram Collaboration Offers Fresh Eyes on China

Emily Rauhala
Washington Post
The Eyes on China Project, a bold new collaboration between foreign and Chinese photographers, aims to broaden that view by bringing you photography, and photographers, that might not otherwise make it over the Great Firewall.

In China, Single Women Live by Their Own Rules

Whitney Richardson & Klaudia Lech
New York Times
Though many single women have recently begun to push back on the term, traditional attitudes among China’s older generation still prevail: Get married young or risk becoming unwanted goods. Klaudia Lech, a photographer based in...

This Instagram Account Offers a New Perspective on China

Time
Some photographs show the surprisingly mundane moments in the life of regular Chinese, such as Albertazzi’s image of a group of men playing cards in their swim shorts on a hot summer afternoon in Beijing; others are images from long-term documentary...

Media

07.14.15

Megacity Chongqing Now

Tim Franco & David M. Barreda
Earlier this month, photographer Tim Franco visited Asia Society to show his work from Chongqing, a city of more than 25 million where he has been reporting since 2009. Many of the images Franco showed appear in his latest book, Metamorpolis (...

Media

07.02.15

On the Border

Sim Chi Yin
Minutes after we turned off the main road and into the Tumen Economic Development Zone, we spotted a group of workers weeding along an access road.From afar, all we could make out in the gentle early morning light was that they were women in...

Rare Access to China's Restive Far West

Wyatt Massey
CNN
Raphael Fournier's "Around Taklamakan," is a series of photographs from China's Xinjiang province which emphasize cultural tensions and daily life...

Searching for Identity in China’s Outer Lands

Q. Sakamaki & Dave Gershgorn
New York Times
“ ‘China’s Outer Lands’ is about people instinctively looking for their own identity, between conformity or originality or autonomy or dependence,” Mr. Sakamaki said. “It’s natural, it’s happening in not only China, it’s everywhere.”

Wild Pigeon

Photos by Carolyn Drake, words by...
Daylight
“The underlying theme I heard when talking to people was that how you interpret things is how they will be, so its best to look at the bright side of things. You don’t mention bad dreams, or you try to interpret them in a positive way. People told...

China: What the Uighurs See

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Xinjiang is one of those remote places whose frequent mention in the international press stymies true understanding. Home to China’s Uighur minority, this vast region of western China is mostly known for being in a state of permanent low-grade...

This Little Bridge Connects Guangzhou and Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is home to China’s largest African migrant population, predominantly from Nigeria. In the city’s Little North Road neighborhood there is a small pedestrian bridge where immigrants from all over the world go to...

The Cowboys (and Indians) of Sichuan: Photographers Search for China's Billy the Kid

Stephanie Borcard and Nicolas Metraux
South China Morning Post
The people of remote Tagong in the southwestern grasslands resemble the cowboys and Indians of North American history.

Learn the History of Modern China Through Photobooks

Ye Ming
Time
A new book and exhibition reveals the untold history of photobook publishing in China.

Sinica Podcast

02.09.15

The Changing Look of China, Myanmar, and Visual Journalism—A Chat With Jonah Kessel

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by Jonah M. Kessel, former freelance photographer and now full-time videographer for The New York Times who has covered a wide range of China stories, traveled widely through the country, and...

Thomas Sauvin’s Beijing Silvermine

Amy Connors
New Yorker
Thomas Sauvin estimates that he has sifted through more than half a million images, taken by ordinary citizens, between 1985 and the early aughts, that depict everyday life, leisure, and travel, both in China and abroad.

Environment

10.16.14

Chinese Environmentalists, in Their Own Words

Michael Zhao
Earlier this year, ChinaFile’s Environment Editor, Michael Zhao, teamed up with Phoenix Online to create a series of two-minute documentaries on the work, ideas, and aspirations of Chinese environmental advocates. The environmentalists, many of whom...

The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed

Alexa Olesen
Mainland Chinese felt no effects from the protests roiling Hong Kong—until Beijing pulled the plug on another social network.

Elaborate Lattice Work in Confucius Lane

Sue Ann
Shanghai Street Stories
In my few years of photographing old houses around Shanghai, I have never been this buoyant over lattice woodwork in its original setting.

Never Before Seen Tiananmen Square Photos Found in Shoebox

China Girls
I was searching through my parents’ photos for a piece I was writing on Tiananmen Square and my father, when I stumbled across two rolls of negatives that appeared to be from the 1989 student democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

Stuart Franklin: How I Photographed Tiananmen Square and 'Tank Man'

Mee-Lai Stone
Guardian
The Magnum photographer tells his story of the 1989 protests, from peaceful demonstration to bloody crackdown, the iconic 'tank man' – and how hamburgers gave him his big break...

This Chinese Couple Turned Their Wedding Photos Into Protest Art

Marguerite Ward
PolicyMic
People in China cannot breathe, and they are getting tired of trying to mask it. One newlywed couple, in an act of protest, took their wedding portraits outdoors. 

Chinese Sentiment

Rinse
Medium
Shen Wei is a fine art photographer currently based in New York City. Before going to the States, he’s never even held a camera. But once he did, he never stopped. He was inspired by the medium and began exploring the power of photography. As he...

Propaganda Photographer Wang Shilong

Shanghaiist
Wang Shilong 王世龙 (born in 1930 in Henan province) served in the Propaganda Department of the People’s Liberation Army as photographer and oil painter between the years 1948 and 1950. He then became a photojournalist for local newspapers and...

Media

01.23.14

Out of the Dark Room

Sharron Lovell
Photographers document China’s breakneck development in fractions of a second every single day. Yet the work of Chinese photojournalists remains largely unseen outside their homeland. Of the thousands of images of the country illustrating the pages...

The People's Republic of Television Portraits from 1980's China

Erik Kessels
Time
“Soon, photographs of people and their televisions began appearing around China.”

Sinica Podcast

12.13.13

From the Underground to the Internet—Contemporary Art in China

Jeremy Goldkorn, Philip Tinari & more from Sinica Podcast
In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today...

Culture

11.22.13

A Homecoming

Sun Yunfan & Shen Wei
Shot in big cities and small towns across China in recent years, Shen Wei’s photographic project “Chinese Sentiment” is a personal journey to recapture bygone Chinese life in both private and public space. Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei...

Excerpts

11.22.13

Shen Wei’s ‘Chinese Sentiment’

Peter Hessler
When Shen Wei was growing up in Shanghai during the nineteen-eighties and nineties, his mother worked as a fashion designer who specialized in calendars. If a company wanted to publish one, they hired Shen Wei’s mother, and she designed clothes for...

In China, Rural Elderly Are Being Left Behind (Slideshow)

Qilai Shen
Washington Post
Tens of millions older Chinese are struggling with poverty and loneliness as their children flee villages for cities. Decades of societal turmoil — radical communism followed by rampant capitalism — have frayed the ties that once bound the nation’s...

Filmmaker Du Bin Released on Bail

Sophie Beach
China Digital Times
Fimmaker, photographer and author Du Bin has been released after five weeks in detention in Beijing. On May 31, Du disappeared from his apartment in Beijing and was held by the police. Du was released on...

Sinica Podcast

06.14.13

China in Images and Words

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are delighted to host Matthew Niederhauser. A photographer focusing on urban development in China, Matthew has been published in various journals including The New Yorker, National Geographic, The...

Books

06.08.13

China: Portrait of a People

Tom Carter
From the subtropical jungles of Yunnan to the frozen wastes of Heilongjiang; across the scalding deserts of Xinjiang and beneath Hong Kong’s neon blur.  Tramping through China by train, bus, boat, motorcycle, mule or hitching on the back of anything that moved.  On a budget so scant that he drew sympathetic stares from peasants. Backpacking photographer Tom Carter somehow succeeded in circumnavigating over 35,000 miles (56,000 kilometers) across all 33 provinces in China during a 2-year period, the first foreigner on record ever to do so.What Carter found along the way, and what his photographs ultimately reveal, is that China is not just one place, one people, but 33 distinct geographical regions populated by 56 different ethnicities, each with their own languages, customs and lifestyles.Despite increased tourism and surging foreign investment, the cultural distances between China and the West remain as vast as the oceans that separate them. CHINA: Portrait of a People was published as a means to visually introduce China to the world by providing a glimpse into the daily lives of the ordinary people who don’t make international headlines, yet whom are invariably the heart and soul of this country. —Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong

China’s Sufis: The Shrines Behind the Dunes

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Lisa Ross’s luminous photographs are not our usual images of Xinjiang. One of China’s most turbulent areas, the huge autonomous region in the country’s northwest was brought under permanent Chinese control only in the mid-twentieth century...

Photos of Trash Heaps Resemble Chinese Landscape Paintings

Michael Zhang
PetaPixel
Yao Lu’s deceiving photos are a commentary on the state of China, its modernization, and its rampant pollution. 

Chinese Family Memories, Recycled

Kerri MacDonald
New York Times
Thomas Sauvin's photo project, composed of discarded negatives, "starts with birth, [and] ends with death... It talks a bit about love. People go to the beach. People travel." In short, it's about life. ...

In China, A Vast Chasm Between the Rich and the Rest

Sim Chi Yin
New York Times
The passing coal miners in remote Shaanxi Province took one look at our marooned Audi and walked on, leaving us stuck on the sleet-covered mountain road. As dusk fell, I managed to mingle with some young migrant workers, and trek with them through a...

Province By Province, A Portrait of China

Kerri MacDonald
New York Times
A Swiss couple thought it would be a good project to photograph all of China's provinces. They got a great portrait series, and then some...

Earthbound China

01.23.13

Appalachia Comes to Anhui

Leah Thompson
This past fall, my colleague Sun Yunfan and I were preparing to bring Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition we produce for Asia Society, to rural Anhui Province to participate in the Yixian International Photography Festival. Upon hearing...

Earthbound China

12.17.12

Unlikely Harvest

Leah Thompson
A little over month ago, I found myself traveling to rural Anhui province. Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition I had produced for Asia Society, had been invited to exhibit at the Yixian International Photography Festival. Logistically,...

Howard French’s Images of Shanghai

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
The writer who can really shoot—the dream of generations of penny-pinching newspaper editors—is the rarest of creatures. Because I’ve failed at it enough times to know the difference between snapping off a few frames between interviews and really...