From the Inbox – M. Scott Brauer – ‘We Chinese’

NAME: Zhangzhenhua
AGE: 28
OCCUPATION: [no response]
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
Home country.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN CHINA’S FUTURE?:
An ordinary contribution.

I’m intrigued by good street portraiture because I’m curious about the types of subjects the photographer chooses. It sort of like improvisational casting and the subjects the photographer chooses not only reflect their vision for the project, but also their visual sensibility.  I like M. Scott Brauer’s ‘We Chinese’ because the subjects he’s chosen feel like a broad representation of the population.  A photographer always risks falling into the trap of selecting the visual outliers, the type of people that probably catch most everyone’s eye when they’re walking through the streets.  But for me, it’s interesting when they can tap into the median and highlight the subtle details of their individuality.

I’m also always interested in how words and captions change our perception of photographs. In this case, the short biographical information and answers to the questions provides just enough information without becoming too burdensome.  The combination of the photographs and captions opens up a window into Chinese society without destroying the ambiguity that good photography possesses.

we-chinese.com
mscottbrauer.com

NAME: Shidengjiang
AGE: 26
OCCUPATION: Construction worker
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
China is my own home.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN CHINA’S FUTURE?:
The China of the future will be a place with worldly, forward-thinking people.
NAME: Taoshushan
AGE: 19
OCCUPATION: Student
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
My own country.
WHAT IS CHINA’S ROLE IN THE FUTURE?:
A developed country.
NAME: Wangfeile
AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Guard at a construction site
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
A harmonious society. Too focused on wealth.
WHAT IS CHINA’S ROLE IN THE FUTURE?:
A strong nation with a cultured and righteous society.
NAME: Shikan
AGE: 22
OCCUPATION: Student
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
My home, my love. [written in English]
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN CHINA’S FUTURE?:
I hope to make a contribution to China’s environment.
NAME: Jiangdong
AGE: 20
OCCUPATION: Computer network technician
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
Home [written in English]
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN CHINA’S FUTURE?:
An observer.
NAME: Jinting
AGE: 24
OCCUPATION: Student
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
A big country, a strong country, a resilient culture.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN CHINA’S FUTURE?:
The path of the women’s generation.
NAME: Wanghong
AGE: 43
OCCUPATION: Worker
WHAT DOES CHINA MEAN TO YOU?:
The center of the world.
WHAT IS CHINA’S ROLE IN THE FUTURE?:
A large and modern country.
Photographs ©M. Scott Brauer
  • S Blackstone11

    These pictures are boring as shit–this feels like bad undergraduate work. With the demise of documentary photography there is a commensurate rise in people that think their “ideas” and conceptual bent can supply the necessary quality that is missing in a complete lack of fidelity to the practice of making interesting images. Within a narrow circle of self-gratification the current generation of photographers and book makers imbibe the fantasy of significance. History will be the ultimate judge.

  • http://twitter.com/cketterhagen Crystal Ketterhagen

    Great collection of street portraits. And thanks for the words about what to look for in these sorts of images. Very helpful….

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