Once again it is Friday and time for the Fine Art Friday photograph of the week. I have been immersed in the business of being a wedding photographer in San Antonio all week, so I always look forward to Fridays when I can share another side of my work. I never completely leave my fine art style behind as I always tell people that I am a fine art wedding photographer when they ask. Today’s photograph is from a trip to China that I took a few years ago. It was actually a Travel and Documentary Photography class that I taught at The Art Institute of Houston. The class was an opportunity for 27 students from The Art Institutes around the country to travel to China for 2 weeks and learn Documentary Photography out in the real world. The trip took us to Bejing, Xian, and Shanghai. Although it was a lot of flying it was great to see these three ancient cities. If you are going to sit on a plane for 17 hours you might as well get the most out of it, We had a guide in China and many planned activities, but mixed into that the students and I had time to photograph in the streets of the three cities and some old neighborhoods. We also had a chance to travel out to the countryside a few times to some very small villages. Many of the people in these villages have probably never seen any foreigners before. And even though we did not speak the language the people were always friendly. They invited us into their homes, and offered us tea and food. When you are wandering around in a small village you feel like an invader at first, but then the people there get used to you and that great connection happens. You begin to realize that people are the same everywhere and a little patience and kindness goes a long way.
The image above is an example of street photography from Beijing. I was so busy teaching the students all day and critiquing images at night that I did not get too many chances to photograph on my own. So I would go out early in the mornings, just after sunrise, and walk around the streets photographing. It is something that I had to do. I really enjoy the Reportage style of photography in the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertesz. In Reportage style you literally walk around the streets looking for interesting things to photograph. It takes time and patience, but for me it is like a scavenger hunt and you get excited when you find images. I have always been very curious so that is why I have been attracted to documentary photography. Not photographing all of these great scenes in an exotic, ancient land like China would drive me crazy. There were several days that I did photograph alongside the students as part of demonstrations on how to approach people and slowly gain their trust. This class trip was an amazing experience for me and all of my students. I hope to do more of these in the future.
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