Photo of the Week | The Walking Painting

Beijing, China. 2005

This week’s image comes from my first ever trip to China, back in the autumn of 2005. I had just finished an internship at Magnum in their London offices and I decided to go to Beijing, to start to photograph some stories I had been forming in my mind during my internship. One of the stories I worked on during my first six weeks in Beijing was on the destruction of the old ‘hutongs’ in the centre of the city. Hutongs are old courtyard communities, based around mazes of alleyways and form an integral part of the character of old Beijing. In recent years, many of these hutongs have been destroyed in an attempt to modernise the centre of the city.

I was out wandering the hutongs one day, as I had been doing a lot during the trip, when I cam across a family moving out of their hutong home. The surrounding area was being demolished and their small community was one of the last that was left. As I watched them start to remove tables, chairs and other items I decided to position myself down one of the small alleyways outside their home. I was hoping that I may be able to catch an interesting moment when someone walked past with an item from their home. I couldn’t hoped for better when for a brief second, someone walked past with a large classical Chinese painting depicting a group of cranes underneath a tree. I managed to capture two frames before the person was gone. Compared to the regular chairs and tables I had seen pass me, this image was the obvious choice from the situation I found.

Camera Info: Canon 20D | 20mm lens | ISO 100 | f4.5 | 1/60th

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