The reason I spend so much time in China is for work. Street photography is my down-time project.
As an industrial designer I’m involved in the migration of design concepts into manufactured products. For the last 25 years I’ve managed this transition from “art-to-part” in China. During that period I’ve taken hundreds of factory tours through every imaginable type of factory making consumer products. During the last few years I’ve begun documenting those tours with photographs. Most of the shots are “technical” images meant to capture the factory’s capabilities, but every once in a while I see an “art quality” photo opportunity – which usually leaves my Chinese tour guide looking very puzzled. Why did he take a picture of THAT?
I’m not going to get into a discussion about Chinese vs. US manufacturing. It’s a debate on the same par as religion & politics. After 25+ years working with Chinese factories I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. The same can also be found in the US. I’ve been accused of shipping US jobs to China. My rebuttal to that is – I worked for a Chinese company for 10 years, which means they shipped a job to the US. It goes both ways…
Up until a few years ago I considered traveling to China work. It was simply an element of my product development job. The travel is often grueling, the hours long, and the jet lag is sometimes unbearable. Sitting in hotel rooms at 3am battling jet lag I often asked myself why I do this. But then a couple years ago I “recalibrated” my life (post divorce) and adopted the attitude that traveling to China is actually a gift that most people on our planet will never experience. Instead of sitting in my hotel room watching CNN or surfing the internet during down-time or evenings I wander around the towns & cities I’m visiting. I try to immerse myself in the sights, sounds & smells of China. I also record these experiences with the photos I take. I haven’t regretted my decision to make this lifestyle change. After I finish my work for the day I enjoy the benefits of being a “stranger in a strange land“. I’m not scared to walk around the cities I visit because I use the same judgement in China that I use in the US. Stay out of the rough areas of town. Duh.
When I started this photo blog about two years ago it began as a serious “photo gallery”. I was going to display photographs along with some of the technical data (EXIF). It quickly morphed into more of a “China travel rant”. I enjoy sharing both the photos and a few paragraphs describing the experiences with each post. I can wax philosophical, share my awe, rant about bizarre sights, describe travel horror stories, or just be snarky. I’m no Hemmingway, but writing has become a new dimension for me to share my “China gift”.
I’ve been told there may be a book in this. I doubt it. Blogs are the new books. I can’t imagine anyone actually paying to see these photos.Note: Most of these factory photos were taken with a smaller Nikon S8200 or P7700. It’s less conspicuous than my D7000 with a big lens and battery grip. I always ask if it’s OK to take photos inside the factories I visit, but the bigger camera is pretty intimidating and I don’t want to freak-out anyone, so I use a point & shoot.