Huang Qingjun, Chinese photographer travelled to 14 of the 33 provinces in China, documenting families and individuals in these rural areas outside their homes, yet he asked them to do something most people wouldn’t dream of doing. Qingjun asked these families to empty and carefully arrange all of the contents of their home to portray the affect of modernistation on rural Chinese families. These compelling photographs have taken Qingjun nearly a decade to document, but what he has captured is engaging and reveals the drastic changes taking palce in these vulnerable areas.
The resulting photos are not only fascinating, but they perhaps provide the outside world a unexpected glipse into the lives of the ordinary Chinese families.
We were lucky enough to be able to interview Huang Qingjun about this thought-provoking series:
Film’s not Dead: Why Photography and what does it mean to you?
Huang Qingjun: Photography is my Life. I love recording memories using my camera.
Film’s not Dead: You have spent nearly a decade documenting peoples belongs in China entitled ‘Family Stuff’, how has this affected you as a photographer and what you inspired you to do this work?
Huang Qingjun:I have witnessed the changes in China and I hope to broadcast those changes through my lens to the world.
Film’s not Dead: For the most of the series you have worked with an 8×10 camera, why did you choose to work in this format and what film did you choose to shoot with and why?
Huang Qingjun:I love the fragrance of film and the feeling of transparency which 8×10 brings. My kens is a Symmar-s 240mm and I use the Kodak 160CN film.
Film’s not Dead: ‘Family Stuff’ is an extremely powerful series and makes the viewer questions ‘objects’ and their own belongings, how did it make you feel and has it made you question your own belongings?
Huang Qingjun:It shows that the standards of living vary a lot. I’ve planned at the end of the series to shoot my own house.
Film’s not Dead: Thought out the series which family would say has been your most enjoyable to photograph and which family has been the most difficult?
Huang Qingjun: My most enjoyable shooting experience was Nan Xum ancient town and house owner called Shen JiaYun, who has been dedicating himself to working in cultural relics preservation in Nan Xun. He appreciates my work and accepted my shooting invitation gladly. He wishes that the cultrual relics in Nan Xun could be known by more people. Unfortunatley, I didn’t have enough time to stay there and have a taste of Nan Xun. I wish in the future I can make it to stay there for a while.
The most difficult shooting experience was in Tong Zhou district, Beijing. In the beginning, they didn’t agree to get their picture taken. After four months of negotiating and waiting, they finally said yes. However, when I removed everything out of their house, the wife refused to stand in front of the camera. It took me another few hours to talk to them. Then I hit the shutter on my camera when the light railway passed by. That was right before the 2088 Beijing Olympics and where you can see the huge development in infrastructure in China.
Film’s not Dead: I have read that next year is the 10th anniversary of thsi project and that you plan to go back to these families, do you think you will re-ask them to pose for you again to compare the differences?
Huang Qingjun:No, I won’t. I just want to show how their life has changed through their house and possessions in my photos.
Film’s not Dead: What do you intend to portray through your work?
Huang Qingjun:I want to express that happiness has nothing to do what materialism.
Film’s not Dead: If you had to give one piece of advise to an aspiring photographer what would that be?
Huang Qingjun:I would advise them to learn from works of different art forms.
Film’s not Dead: Is there anything else you would like to say to the Film’s not Dead readers?
Huang Qingjun: Are there any readers who would allow me to take photos of their Family Stuff?