Mar 15, 2021 12:09 PM

Wandering in China

Visitors cross a main street at the Bund against a backdrop of the Pudong financial district in Shanghai
Visitors cross a main street at the Bund against a backdrop of the Pudong financial district in Shanghai

The skyline of the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai is illuminated, with Huangpu River in the foreground. People rush around, with indifferent or excited faces. This photo is from “Wandering in China,” a collection by Andrew S. T. Wong, a British-Chinese photographer with a focus on the China region. The photo zeros in on a man in a polka-dot polo shirt, who stares blankly while holding hands with the girl next to him. This photo seems to represent Wong's attitude toward photography. Instead of the age people are living in, he is more interested in the ordinary people living in the age.

The skyline outline is more like an ECG diagram of the age. When Wong is wandering in China, he is actually feeling the pulse of the country.

All the images in this collection were taken on black-and-white film, simple and plain, capturing the daily lives of ordinary people. As a veteran photographer who started his photojournalist career nearly four decades ago, he knows all the tricks for spicing up a photo and maximizing its visual appeal. In “Wandering in China” collection, however, he abandoned all the skills and stopped pursing the so-called dramatic tension. Instead, he recorded everything just the way it was. He describes himself as “a bystander and a listener.”


Chinese travelers wait at a bus stop in Jiangdu, Jiangsu province, in 1983.


Chinese men dressed in Mao suits and security uniforms visit the Great Wall near Beijing in 1985.


A Chinese man checks his train ticket at a railway station in Changchun, Jilin province, in 1985.


A Chinese woman listens to her headphone radio as she ride the Beijing subway in 1985.


A Chinese couple poses for photos outside Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, in September 2016.


A Chinese afforestation worker prepares straw stacks the desert in Minqin county in Gansu province in October 2016.


Fishermen return with their cormorants at dusk at Poyang Lake in Jiangxi province in November 2017.


Villagers carry boxes of eggs in Xingyi, Guizhou province, in 2018.


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