It’s been a strange past few months.  Because of political, social, and governmental ‘issues‘ (read: problems, protests, and tensions) here in western China I’ve spent more time in front of the computer working as a designer and web developer than I have as a photographer – a nice little carry over from a previous career.  Other than shooting a few local jobs and lots of time on the east coast of China working and shooting, it’s been a slow and somewhat frustrating time to live here.

Being one of the only permanently-based (and open with the government) photographers in the Tibetan areas of western China lends itself to certain stresses, troubles, and limitations – one of those being they tend to let me know when it’s ‘safe‘ for me to go out and do my job.  Safe meaning when they are comfortable with the thought of a foreign photographer.  All other times they expect me to find something else to do.  Roll with the punches and keep my head down, I guess.

I’m happy to say that things are gradually returning to a state of normal.  I now have a huge list of projects I’m working on.  Down time, while frustrating as a story teller, creator, and income earner, is certainly hard. But it can also be great to help us gain perspective and think about the stories that we want to tell.  Such was the case for me.

I’m happy to announce one of many personal projects designed to explore the many nuances, stories, and people of my home in western China.  These are stories I’ve been watching unfold for years and haven’t had the 关系 (relationships, trust, understanding, local rapport, etc) to pursue appropriately all while being sensitive to the unique cultures of this place .  I couldn’t be more excited to start!  Listed below are a few captions for the posted images, many of which will be explored further in the coming weeks.

  • Xiàngqí /象棋/ Chinese Chess – Literally translated means “Elephant Game.”  This is one of the most interesting cultural games you will find in China.  Literally on any given day you can find dozens of old men around playing this game.  It’s a fantastically rich game that encompasses a large swath of Chinese social culture.
  • Confucius Wall Slogans – I find these everywhere throughout China.  These are painted slogans, both large and small, that convey what the Chinese government feels is a slogan to promote ‘social harmony.’
  • BaoZi/包子 / Chinese Dumplings – So much food culture, it’s so hard to know where to begin.  This is one of my favorites and one of the most common foods you will run across in China.  Worth exploring further.
  • Temples:  Daoist, Buddhist, unidentified… we’ve got them.
  • Common workers: Man, is there a story to be told here.

Hope you join me over the next few months as many of these stories unfold.


My World: Part 1 – Images by Brian Hirschy