China Daily

In May 2012, I was invited along with nine other photographers by the Beijing municipal authorities to visit the city to take part in an exchange project to photograph the metropolis.

This was my first excursion to the world’s most populous country and one of the most famous capital cities. The images I made over the course of eight days reflect, I hope, the shifting balance of Chinese society; from one rooted in a turbulent past, to a present where people now live under a hybrid of Western-style capitalism and totalitarian communism. What I discovered and tried to photograph was how this seismic change is affecting everyday life for people in Beijing. The balance of wealth and poverty is exaggerated and widening; its consequences unclear. People exist under very different ‘isms’ depending on where and how they live. For many there is opportunity and prosperity; for many others there is poverty. I wanted to depict how increased wealth makes people aspire to aspects of life which we in the West recognise and take for granted.

I am delighted to say that I have been invited back to Beijing to take part in the 2013 version of the project along with my Document Scotland colleagues Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Sophie Gerrard.

A man taking part in morning exercises in Beihai Park, an imperial garden to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

A group of tourists standing in line outside the Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Chinese tourists posing for photographs wearing traditional clothing on a promenade above the Forbidden City, Beijing, China. A Chinese tourist taking photographs on a promenade above the Forbidden City, Beijing, China. A musician playing guitar in a waterside bar on Shichahai Street (Lotus Market), Beijing, China. Three overweight Chinese boys leaning over and looking at a map at the Happy Valley amusement park, near Beijing, China. An elderly man and woman posing for a photograph in front of a water fountain at the Happy Valley amusement park, near Beijing, China. A woman cradling her young child from the sun under an umbrella near the Rostrum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. People passing next to a portrait of Chairman Mao and red flags fluttering on the Rostrum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. A group of young people laughing together in an alley off Qianmen Street in Beijing, China. Two young girls riding in the cart of a tricycle being pedalled by a man along South Lishi Road, Beijing, China. Three young men talking next to a motorcycle at dusk on South Lishi Road, Beijing, China. A solitary monk in brown robes walking down the steps on the Great Wall of China at Juyongguan Pass, China. A young boy crouching and holding a Chinese national flag outside the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. Two women posing for a photograph while tourists walk up and down the steps on the Great Wall of China at Juyongguan Pass, China. Visitors sitting in line outside the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.

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