ZHŌNGGUÓ RÉN
中国人


In Chinese hinterlands and many provincial cities a person from the west is still a rare spectacle. I spent much of 2012 in and out of such places. As a taller guy with blue eyes (and a big beard then too) being in public meant being photographed. I'd pose with teens making peace signs, pretend to not notice sly cel phone manoeuvres, and engage in playful back-n-forth snap snap chitchat on the train. It felt beyond the "is street photography ethical?" discourse that made working this way a vague hassle when I was a student. It was a game; a way for people with limited common language, experience, perspective, etc. to share a casual type of intimacy. At some point I began enjoying an autonomous sense of snapshot license. Zhōngguó Rén 中国人 is somewhere between touristic and a Winnogrand/Frank/Cartier-Bresson street ethos. It was a fun and valuable departure from the large format work that defines so much of my practise.