China’s modern story has been one of explosive progress that has created a developed society in one generation. Yet for its rapid development, some groups are still left behind and society remains fragmented.
Vietnam: Early Development
Travelling to Vietnam today is reminiscent of China during the 1980s. In spite of the rapid changes taking place here, there is still a harmonious attitude in people here.
Myanmar: Journey in the Golden Land
It would be
redundant for me to say that Myanmar is undergoing its most rapid development
in recent history, as there has certainly been significant recent coverage of
this trend. To my surprise, when I recently visited the country I saw that the
‘rapid transformation’ hadn’t struck deep into the daily life of many people
here, and despite changes in Yangon, life outside remains at a slower pace for
Jiao Jiao: A Portrait
Jiao Jiao was Tai’s schoolmate growing up in Chongqing. He had a strong feminine identity since childhood, and after undergoing two operations to complete his physical transformation, began effectively living as a woman. Instead of completing the journey to womanhood, these operations left Jiao Jiao with a feeling of displacement due to severe hormonal imbalances, and created a need to rediscover her identity entirely. These works focus on Tai’s meeting with Jiao Jiao on the occasion of their school reunion, and the unexpected acceptance she found from her old schoolmates.
Her story has broad implications as a benchmark of the state of LGBT life in China as it evolves past dated expectations of conservative restriction. The country’s development has brought new ideas, which when combined with inherently Chinese values like social harmony, have created something of a safe zone for gay and transgender people. While people may feel confined by the expectations of individual relationships (one’s parents or employer, for example), at a broader level they are aware that they live in a peaceful society where they have little risk of physical harm for their life choices. This is in stark contrast to some more advanced economies, where there are news reports of continued threats of physical harm for LGBT people.
Tai remains in contact with Jiao Jiao and has seen her continued development. She hopes she can live as a normal woman, even to be a bride and marry a lover. Despite her complicated background, she maintains traditional ideas about a woman’s role and what she wants to become.
Tibet: New Traditions on the Roof of the World
Tibet is a
place that has fascinated people in both the East and West for centuries. At
least part of this can be attributed to its isolation – at 16,000ft (4,900m) it
is a difficult place to reach, and remains a place of which little is known.
visited Tibet, I found a place that hasn’t fully embraced the modern world,
whether by its own choice or a matter of circumstance. While parts of Lhasa
resemble other cities in China’s western regions, it is clear that Tibet still
maintains a strong connection to its unique culture and traditions. Today monasteries are still highly visible within local society,
where saffron-robed monks instruct the new generation.
The Tibetan people are warm, hospitable, and
most of all curious, as now more than at any time in their history, they are
exposed to the world outside.
Egypt: Daily Rhythms
rises through smog to cast a red haze over Cairo as muezzin call devout Muslims
to prayer. The noise of car horns fills the air, as does the smell of tobacco and spices from shops that line the streets. Cairo is an aggressive place,
where one’s senses are constantly being assailed and one’s patience is
constantly being tested.
think of Egypt, their first impression is probably one of pyramids and
pharaohs. While all these things are still there, I was more interested to
capture modern life in Egypt – streets, mosques, and most importantly people.
Egypt in its own way is at the crossroads of modern and traditional culture.
Buildings and cars are old, yet mobile phones can be seen everywhere. The city
is bustling and loud, yet at its heart Egypt moves at a slower pace. This is
most apparent outside Cairo, where life on the banks of the Nile has an older
Dance: Body as Art
Dance is one of my
earliest influences, as I performed on stage beginning at a young age. For me,
photography began as an extension of dance, a record of the same movement and
expression that I experienced on stage.
There is something
fascinating about the human aesthetic and our bodies as art. Yet capturing this
type of image is particularly challenging, as dance exists outside of a single moment and risks losing its original meaning if taken out of context. To
achieve this, an insider’s perspective is important in order to choose the
instant that will show the movement’s intention.
Portraits: Window Inside
I have had the privilege to meet many people and share their stories over my career. I always look for ways to communicate these stories visually – both the momentary expression of a brief encounter and the wise gaze of experience.
young, I was not used to worldly cares, And
hills became my natural compeers,
mistakes I fell in mundane snares, And
thus entangled was for thirteen years.
bird would long for wonted wood, And
fish in tanks for native pools would yearn.
to till my southern fields I would. To live
a rustic life why not return?
of ground is but ten acres square; My
thatched cottage has eight or nine rooms.
front I have peach trees here and plums there; O'er
back eaves willow trees and elms cast glooms.
village can be seen in distant dark, Where
plumes of smoke rise and waft in the breeze.
alley deep a dog is heard to bark, And
cocks crow as if o'er mulberry trees.
courtyard no one should intrude, Nor rob
my private rooms of peace and leisure.
years of abject servitude, Again
in nature I find homely pleasure. Tao Yuanming
Searching for Harmony
This is a
collection of images from various locations including New York City, upstate
New York, Italy and Costa Rica that was selected to contrast urban and
natural environments. Visual harmony and balance can be found in both these types of environments despite their
apparent dissimilarity. I have found that we often become caught in the fast pace of urban
life and think of harmony as something “outside”, only found in places
beyond ourselves, places we go to on a long weekend or maybe an exotic holiday. If we
open our eyes, we can find that it is actually much closer than we expected.