Photography festival captures a snap of history

The Hangzhou Citizen Photography Festival is being held in Gushan Park from May 17 to 21. More than 5,000 works have been selected from over 30,000 pieces of submission by people.

A bird’s-eye view of the festival held in Gushan Park, with the number 40 indicating the 40th anniversary of China’s opening up

The Hangzhou Citizen Photography Festival has been a grand occasion for shutterbugs and tourists in town over the past 10 years. It showcases the pride and beauty of the city as it records the changing faces of the area and its people for posterity.

This year the festival was held along the Bai Causeway and in Gushan Park from May 17 to 21, where more than 5,000 works have been selected from over 30,000 pieces submitted by people living in Hangzhou.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s opening up, and family photo albums on display have recorded the swift transition in ordinary people’s lives.

The organizers have also invited 17 photographers from across the nation to stay in Hangzhou for a week to shoot subjects that have impressed and interested them.

Performers at the opening ceremony of the 11th Hangzhou Citizen Photography Festival

A photographer from Shenyang of Liaoning Province, Yu Chentao, was impressed by the “pedestrian first” rule being observed by drivers in Hangzhou.

“I’ve noticed that the bus drivers would slow down even before they reached the zebra crossing. That afforded me a sense of security when I crossed the road,” said Yu.

His multiple-exposure picture, which has been blown-up size, tracks down how a gray-haired granny made a crossing on a shady two-way street in slow motion.

Others, including Song Weihua from Jiangxi Province, turned to scenes of cashless payments, eateries, barber shops and subways.

The lives and work of foreigners in Hangzhou are also being highlighted at the festival. A series of works from 20 expats are featured in the unit “Hangzhou in the eyes of foreigners.”

“I’ve been living in many countries and always near the water, but Hangzhou is very unique,” said Tan Hung Heng, an Australian who specializes in wild bird photography in his home country. “Other lakes may be monotonous, but the West Lake can be very different from one angle to another. I can never get enough of it.” 

Shi Jia

American photographer Marianne Wilson stands in front of her pictures, which are featured in the section of “Hangzhou in the eyes of foreigners.”

Tan’s subjects are no longer restricted to birds here. His camera documented people kayaking in the West Lake, a little boy blowing bubbles in a park and a line of tourists walking one after another on an arched stone bridge in the rain.

In order to take a nice shot, he even made good friends with the boatmen of the lake. 

“They really offered me great advice as for what time the boats will show up. I’ve met a lot of nice people in Hangzhou,” said Tan.

Robert Townsend, from Texas in the US, has lived in the city for four years, concentrated on traditional Chinese medicine. He followed each step closely as a patient went through examinations of pulse and tongue, to prescription fillers, putting medical materials on a tray and packaging.

“From what I’ve learnt, my guess is that if you need a quick fix, you’ll try the Western medicine. But if you have something that has been going on for a long time, then you should take Chinese medicine,” explained Townsend.

After being exhibited in Gushan, the photos will move to other venues later this month, including the Citizen Center in Jianggan District, around the Grand Canal in Gongshu District and also inside the trains on certain subway lines.

Wang Xiangeng

“Mandarin ducks in the West Lake” by Wang Xiangeng

Chen Zhongqiu

“A high-speed rail traveling against the snowy background of Gaoting Hill in Hangzhou” by Chen Zhongqiu

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