Capturing China's street spirit with Ivo Janssen

Culture, Travel | by Aimee Groom
Posted: July 21st, 2011 | Updated: January 11th, 2012 | Comments
China Photography_travel photography_chinese culture_chinese landscapes Ivo Janssen_Beijing We came across Ivo Janssen via his Foxxyz photostream on Flickr when his album of great China images caught our eye. A web developer by day, Ivo gets his kicks outside of work as an aerobatics pilot and skateboarder with a penchant for travel and photography, documenting his daily life on his one-photo-a-day blog, Lack of Planning. Culled from several trips to China, here he shares some of his favorite moments.>>> I'm a web developer based in Los Angeles, CA. Even though it's not my main focus and I have had no formal training, I've been experimenting with photography ever since I got my first digital camera at age 15. I'm a big fan of street photography, and how good portraits can capture people's lives and spirits in a way unlike any other; Ricky Powell is one of my big inspirations. Over the years I've returned to China many times, and have continued to be amazed by its rawness and the grittiness of its street life, which keep me and my camera occupied. I continue to travel as often as I can, with my trusty Nikon DSLR by my side... Gullin 2008 "As The Wheels Turn" (Guilin, 2008) In 2008 I was able to take a trip down to Guilin, where we went on some excursions to see the countryside around the city. That's where I found this lady. I really like the backdrop and was lucky to get some emotion to complete the image. red-and-red_Gulin 2008_Ivo Janssen "Red & Red" (Guilin, 2008) Guilin is a pretty special city. On this night it was raining softly, and the scenes around the city with the neon signs and dark atmosphere really invoked a brooding futuristic feel reminiscent of the eighties movie Blade Runner. I love trying to capture that in a photograph. heading-home_chongqing_2007_Ivo Janssen "Heading Home" (Chongqing, 2007) I have a thing about alleys. The narrower, the better. Here I was fortunate to peer into this alley and find a family just walking out of it. Where they were going, I don't know. players-ball_Beijing 2007_Ivo Janssen "Player's Ball" (Beijing, 2007) Oftentimes I find it hard to get the exact photos I like without seeming rude or intrusive, so I find it helps to hang around and talk to people for a while to get comfortable before trying to take any photos. Usually they will start ignoring you and act more natural. I hung out with these elders for several hours on a hot summer's day in Beijing and was rewarded with some intimate shots. Beijing, lanterns, chinese new year lanterns, hutong "Lanterns" (Beijing, 2010) Another alley. This was taken in the area around Nan Luo Gu Xiang, still one of my favorite places in Beijing to walk around and explore the alleys and shops. The decay and age of "old Beijing" is especially beautiful to me. ashes_Beijing 2008_Ivo Janssen "Ashes" (Beijing, 2008) This photo was taken on a bitterly cold morning in December. I was surprised to find the outdoor neighborhood market thriving at minus 10 degrees, and it was a rewarding experience to document some of the hard working people tending to their goods in the freezing weather. Beijing_subway tunnel_underpass_shadow "Secrets" (Beijing, 2008) A simple photograph but one that evokes a strong emotional response for me. This guard was sunken in thought while walking through one of the city's pedestrian tunnels and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. lonely-eyes_Beijing 2008_Ivo Janssen "Lonely Eyes" (Beijing, 2008) I found this dog outside a restaurant in an alley near Qianmen. I waited for a while and the dog seemed to become more and more interested in what I was doing. The emotion in the puppy's expression and the contrast with its surroundings makes this one of my favorites. fruits-and-vegetables_Beijing 2008 Ivo Janssen "Fruits & Vegetables" (Beijing, 2008) This photo was taken at an indoor market somewhere in the eastern part of the city. All the stalls here were so small and the goods packed so high it was surprising they could even do business at all. I asked this lady if I could take a picture of her and her stall. She reluctantly agreed. To check out more of Ivo's pictures from China and beyond, head to his Flickr photostream or Lack of Planning.
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