Humans of the Hutongs
August 15th, 2015
I had the opportunity, on a sunny August Saturday morning of meeting with a group of photographers in the Beixinqiao area of Beijing to collaborate in a project named "Humans of the Hutongs"
Situated in the north eastern part of what is still considered the city center of the
17 million + megalopolis that is Beijing.
As you can see in the above photo. there are no massive buildings in a Hutong area. hutong actually means small street in Chinese. When looking at an aerial view of a hutong it is not easy to determine each of the individual streets as they ofter are no wider than an alleyway inside any standard "western" house.
After meeting up at the South East exit of the subway station, we headed towards the "Culture Yard" where we did our "Inception" meeting, decided on the overall guidelines for the day and attempted to establish three teams with different assigned roles.
The team roles ended concept ended up crumbling down. But we did however manage to re-focus each teams purpouse and basically agreed that each team should find at least 10 different subjects to shoot and interview.
I am not much of a hipster.
However, recently a friend of mine - Chris Meehan - has purchased a Rolleiflex and agreed to lend it to me along with a black&white and a colour film rolls.
I was already half-way through the colour roll and thought that I would probably have good opportunities during the day to finish it. I am glad I brought the camera since I managed to finish the roll and start the B&W one
It's amazing the amount of attention this camera gets. I had to keep telling people it wasn't mine !
My Challenges for this shoot.
During the fist meeting it was agreed - Thanks to the coordination efforts of Uday Phalgun (fellow photographer and one of the coordinators/founders of the project) - to shoot
1 - square photos - which I almost never do
2 - in colour - which I almost never do
3 - to have all the photos post processed by a single person - which wasn't me.
This was a lot to take on for my profile. Being mostly an "art" oriented photographer, used to working alone, and shooting only what I wanted, I was unsure of my ability to fit into the project's concept.
This is precisely why I told myself I absolutely had to be a part of this. Without challenging your ability once in a while, you cannot progress. you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to push yourself to sort the challenges and either fail and learn a lesson or....strive.
This is the "before" group shot we took right before embarking on our one-day photo mission.
What I find most interesting about this group is that photography really brings people of all walks of life together. I think at least 4 continents are represented in this picture and all sorts of professions: book designers, photo editors, lawyers, architects, financial experts, marketing people.
I really appreciate meeting people of professions totally different to mine and learning, through them, about it.