Tag Archives: Street Life

Beijing Streetview

Beijing, China. April 2013.

My first view of a new city is almost always in motion, from the window of a taxi cab.

A classmate in university once spoke of her year in India and how it contrasted with her experience of Canada. In Canada she said, the landscape is full of colour, rich green trees that flare up into autumn flames, the deep blues and copper blue-greens of fresh water and glacial lakes, the open palettes of wildflowers. On the other hand, we build in brick and concrete and stone, paint our walls in a staggering spectrum from beige to white. In India, she said, the landscape was colourless, a wash of earth-tones and that, as if to compensate, everything else burst with colour–painted walls and signs and fabrics. Even the food was bright.

I was reminded of that in China. The landscape from Shanghai was a pale monochrome that stretched the length of ride on the train. But from the taxi, details of blue and green decoration danced and gold leaf and the red, the brightest red in the signs and painted characters, the temple doors and arches, an accent and an undercurrent at the same time, not a bass beat but the staff the music is written on.


The Vendor

Bangkok, Thailand. January 2011.

When shown Van Gogh’s Starry Night and asked what they see, some people will catalog the elements: “I see stars, a swirl of wind, a crescent moon, a tree, the buildings of a small town.” Others will tell the story of what’s happening: “I see a warm summer night like the ones of my teenage years when we’d sneak out of a sleeping town and lay down next to a cornfield to watch the August meteor showers. I see a warm south wind sweeping the day’s gossip and rumors away like a gentle broom in a sure hand, while crickets serenade their one true star and bullfrogs bellow their heartache into the hungry dark between huddles of dreaming trees.” I take photographs like this one because often, it’s the story that appeals to me, more than the details. But what about you? When you look at this photograph, what do you see?