Archive for August, 2007

Caffeinated Capitalism

What are the signs of a developed country? McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks on every block? It seems as though this may be a defining characteristic of a country’s accumulation of wealth. It makes sense. Fast food for a fast lifestyle, and coffee to keep it all running smoothly.
In China it’s hard to come by a cup of coffee, but becoming easier. I was thinking about this at a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Hong Kong while surrounded by white foreigners. Hong Kong, I might add, is a different world from mainland China, or at least Beijing.
Have you ever wondered why you NEED a cup of coffee in the morning to help you make it through the day? Or maybe one at around noon?
Coffee and cigarettes, I once read, were taboo before the Industrial Revolution. Coffee was once the “Muslim Drink.” After this huge boost in industrious human activity, we needed more fuel and stress relief. Hence the crowd of white people sipping cafe lattes all around me at a Starbucks in the Asian business capital. It’s a good thing smoking isn’t allowed in here.
This photograph was taken in a busy shopping section of Beijing. KFC, formally known as Kentucky FRIED Chicken, is very popular in China. With the amazingly tasty and fresh food they have in this country, I can’t quite figure out the fascination with deep fried chicken.

Sex Kitten

There needs to be a bit of humor on my blog occasionally, although with a post title like this I may get some unwanted traffic.
Sam Girton and I happen to be roaming through some part of town in search of Hong Kong camera deals when we stumbled on this kitten keeping watch over the porn magazines.
The Chinese are surprisingly open and comfortable with the topic of sex. I’ve heard stories about the countryside being fairly conservative when it comes to things like sex before marriage, which is interesting in a fairly secular country. The United States has a lot of religious pressure and Puritanical residue that creates this taboo around the topic, but the Chinese seem to have more of a societal or community influence.

Gained or Lost?

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is something about this photograph that speaks to my desire, and possibly a portion of others, to seek the simple life and push away uncertain change.
Walls like this are being constructed all over the city of Beijing to hide that which is behind it, the old face of Beijing. Hutongs, as they are called here, are, or were, ancient neighborhoods literally and figuratively connected together in narrow alleyways that have traditionally made up the city of Beijing and others in China. But China is a world player now. With the Olympics and the country’s financial success, it seems as though it and its people have decided to push for the image of development and change.

Self Promotion

This photograph was taken in Beijing last week. It’s of an elder man playing a traditional Chinese instrument, which I haven’t been able to properly identify. It’s played like a violin, but has only one or two strings. He was playing up against a temporary fence made by construction workers in the city. The colors of the rusting blue metal were a beautiful and almost metaphoric background for the musician.
For those who haven’t visited my main site in a while I just wanted to shamelessly ask that you have a look and let me know what you think about the approach to the organization of content. I’ll be posting a portfolio section soon with single images. Any ideas for the title of this category? They will be images that stand alone. Thanks for having a look.

On the Road of Curiosity

A friend of mine, Kim Walker, had posted a comment recently about how the curiosity of the villagers in a coal town was the same as my own inquisitiveness in being there and photographing the people, places… She couldn’t be more right.
I walked by this boy in a desolate and desperate section of his coal town. His glowing orange shirt stuck out in the drab of the landscape like the light of a train in the darkness of a tunnel. I stopped in my coal-dust tracks and stood there staring at him in the distance, and he stood there staring back at me. It was like we were each peering into some bizarre time-defying mirror of curiosity. He smiled at me occasionally and it gave me goosebumps in its innocence and fraternity. I walked behind a building to see if he would follow me. Seconds later he walked into my view again and looked around for the stranger with the camera. When he saw me he pretended he hadn’t.
At that moment beside a road littered with the dust of coal, a curious photographer made this photograph of a curious boy.