Tinkling On The Ivories.

Last week, whilst taking a break from being a Scotland-based photographer, and instead masquerading as a Beijing photographer I had the good fortune to be taken to a piano factory for a photo shoot. I was having lunch and my guide/fixers said, “after here we’ll go to a piano factory”. I did a double take, quizzed them and questioned them just to be sure I’d heard right. “A piano factory?”. I mean a Chinese piano factory, it’s got to be worth a picture huh? And so after the 37th dish of food on the table, we finished lunch and went there…

And I walked in. And it was everything I hoped it would be, except could have done with a few more people. But there they were, rows and rows of pianos. “Can I climb up there to get a better vantage point?” I asked, pointing at the roof of a shed within the hangar sized factory. “Yes, no problem, we’ll get you some ladders”.

Xinghai Piano factory in Beijing…in todays Guardian newspaper.

 

And yes, I did try playing one of the pianos, even though I have no musical talent.

The image runs today in The Guardian newspaper across two pages as their Eyewitness image of the day. Later today, or tomorrow, you’ll be able to see it online, and on the Guardian’s iPad version. But for now, please go buy a paper, support the newspaper industry by buying a copy, and see this image at a huge size.

 

 

 

Sunshine and Shadows

I had the pleasure this past week of being on assignment in Beijing, China. Not bad for a Glasgow, Scotland based editorial photographer. But as Asia used to be “my patch”, and jumping on a plane to go to work isn’t unusual, then it was a welcome trip, and nice to be back in the region.

Whilst there I was shooting for an assignment images of the great city of Beijing, but what made the trip even more enjoyable was that along with my Document Scotland photography collective colleagues Colin McPherson and Sophie Gerrard, I was invited by the prestigious Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, in Beijing, to give a presentation on both Scottish documentary photography and to show my own work from recent series with Rangers FC.

Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China.

It wasn’t a huge audience, as the talk had to take place mid week and in an afternoon due to schedules, so even Beijingers have to attend work, but the talk was a lively one, with plenty of questions for Sophie about her work covering the environmental destruction during the building of Donald Trump’s golf course in Menie, Scotland, and for me there were a few questions from football loving fans in the audience.

We had taken some copies of our Document Scotland self-published newspapers, both issues 1 and 2, and they were eagerly snapped up by the audience, which was a relief as their enthusiasm made our luggage lighter…

It’s always pleasurable to show one’s work to an engaged audience, especially when that audience is not the usual one, so this opportunity given to us by Three Shadows centre was really much appreciated. It’s a beautiful gallery and art centre, I’ll attach a few photos of it below to give you some idea, if you’re in Beijing it’s worth the trip to Cao Chang district to go visit it.

Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.
Presenting my Rangers FC images at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.
Presenting my Rangers FC images at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.
Free copies of the Document Scotland newspapers were given out, at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.

After our talk there was plenty of time for sitting around chatting with friends new and old, in the beautiful courtyard gardens of the art centre, which was designed by Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei, as well as time used to peruse the extensive library of photobooks the centre owns, and which now, nicely, holds a copy of my Roma Portraits book. All in all a great afternoon, and a superb way to finish what had been a fascinating but hectic and tiring assignment week in Beijing.

left to right: RongRong of Three Shadows, Sophie Gerrard, myself and Colin McPherson of Document Scotland, at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2013, all rights reserved.

 

 

Love all.

New balls please. Love all. Juice. Eh, Bjorn Borg. Okay, that’s about as much as I know about tennis, not a sport I’ve photographed much of before, nor had any great desire to. But Wimbledon seems to have begun, going by the news, and I’m sitting here in an Osaka hotel room (of all places, here on assignment and today is a recce day with plenty of down time) editing images, and right now I have a have a set of images concerning tennis to look at, so, I thought I’d share one with you…



Roland Garros PR event, Beijing, China 2012. ©Jeremy Suttton-Hibbert 2012, all rights reserved.

A couple of weeks ago in downtown Beijing, whilst there on a photography assignment, I stumbled into a PR event for Roland Garros and Longines watches. As ever when out on the hunt for images, anything incongruous catches my attention, so even though tennis doesn’t appeal, I had no hesitation to take a look around, to look for images, to look for any pictures or moments that could tell the story of Beijing city and how it is changing, and of the new found wealth of many Chinese. I have no idea how popular tennis is in China, there weren’t many Chinese having a look around this PR event, but perhaps it wasn’t the best time to visit, it was midday and very hot. But I was happy, ball girls and ball boys were larking around and hanging about, giving me a few frames to shoot. Only thing missing were the strawberries and cream.

As graceful as a tai chi master.

I’m sitting here editing a the big pile of images from my recent China commission, going through it methodically, day by day. Right now I’ve just being taking a look at some images I shot early one morning in Zizhuyuan Park, in Beijing, and it reminded me of a joke I said to my fixer, Felix, that I was working with, whilst shooting the images.

I was watching all these people doing their early morning tai chi exercises, moving gracefully, balancing, pirouetting, making slight adjustments of the foot, the leg, their hands and twists of their wrists, then a sudden but controlled movement and then back to calm. It was beautiful, to use an old line, poetry in motion, to see this grace under the trees and in the early morning air. As I watched them through my viewfinder I thought to myself, when I’m looking through the camera and making slight adjustments to my distance or proximity to the subject, bending my knees, leaning over slightly to adjust composition, raising up on my tiptoes to gain that extra little vantage point of height, in my mind when I make those adjustments to my stance I am moving as a tai chi master. I float gracefully around my subject, barely making the air ripple, my every move light and soft, considered, adding to my image.

Now whether or not that is the reality as seen by anyone watching me move around and shoot, crouch and fire off a few frames, is best left unsaid but it is now what I strive for…


 Early morning Tai chi in Zizhuyuan Park, in Beijing, China. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2012, all rights reserved.

Onwards with the editing, there are 2 weeks worth of non-stop shooting to go through.

Launching China.

So it’s been a busy ol’ time as of late, playing a little bit of hopscotch with photographic assignments in Asia and within Japan.

Firstly I was across in Beijing and Shanghai, China, photographing on an assignment. It’s always very enjoyable to visit China, to see more of the country on it’s upward trajectory. Such a fascinating place and time to visit there, and this was my first time down in Shanghai which was very exciting. There’s so much to shoot over there. Some of the work wil be shown in an exhibition in London later this summer, organised by the Beijing Municipality, but I don’t have the exact details as of yet. Soon hopefully…

Below is a picture from Shanghai, an early morning wander along the iconic Bund. I was up and out early every morning, hoping for beautiful sunrise light, but alas it escaped me. But on my second morning in Shanghai, i was on the Bund, photographing a bride and bridegroom having their wedding photos taken, thinking, this is ok, not a bad wee picture to start to day, and then I glanced to my right, further along the Bund. And there were these guys, about to launch a Chinese flag kite. I had to run to make sure I got there before they launched…Thankfully I made it, and I felt bad for hoping the launch of China skywards was unsuccessful in order that I may get a 2nd bite of the cherry photographing the flag with the Bund skyline behind. And indeed my wish was granted, the kite’s launch was unsuccessful and I was able to continue shooting another few frames…


 Chinese flag kite on the Bund, Shanghai, China, 2012. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2012, all rights reserved.

Since the China trip there has been a lot to take care of, a lot of editing for the show and selection for the client, and other photographic assignments here in Japan, up to Kawamata near Fukushima for a magazine story about a silk factory, and down to Osaka also for two other magazine pieces. But perhaps more on them tomorrow, or a later date.