Seeing Chengdu with Tyler Krohman

Culture, Travel | by Tyler Krohman
Posted: June 1st, 2011 | Updated: January 11th, 2012 | Comments
China Photography_travel photography_chinese culture_chinese landscapes late night news cut_Chengdu_Tyler Krohman A Canadian living in Chengdu, here Tyler Krohman considers his relationship with China, its people, places and spaces and how they relate to one another in these rapidly changing times. Read on for Tyler's beautiful photos and thought-provoking commentary as he shows us China through his lens. >>> I think all of us are really photographers of some sort. We see the world through a lens, though of course we see it through one far superior to those used by photographers: the human eye. One day I realized I was taking my best pictures when my camera wasn't with me. Unfortunately that format is difficult to share due to current technological limitations. So I started to bring my SLR camera with me wherever I would go and then the pictures started coming. I think I have had an interest in photography ever since discovering an old SLR camera in my parents' closet as a child. Now that I live in China, I have to give this country credit for making this desire to take pictures come alive for me. For good or for bad, China and its 1.4 billion people produce an endless variety sights and images ripe for the creative mind's picking. Currently I live, work and photograph in Chengdu, Sichuan. I was attracted to Chengdu because of its culture and laid-back, friendly people. My prior 29 years of existence took place in western Canada. To me, China, and in particular Chengdu, was such a huge contrast to where I am from, and that was very attractive. It's strange that after living here more than two years the crowds, staring and children screaming "wàiguórén" (foreigner) all seems quite familiar. Comfortable, even. Now when I return to Canada I feel a bit out of place standing in line for my morning donut and coffee. This feeling doesn't last too long though—and I know soon I will be back to the land of the red sun to recharge my "wàiguórén" powers. Here are some of my favorite images I have captured while living in Chengdu: blue rare_Tyler Krohman_chengdu meat market Blue Rare: Having a fresh market down the street is a foreign concept to North Americans. Seeing large hunks of meat dangling in the open air is really something of a spectacle. It reminds you how far away you are from the sounds of lawn mowers, ice-cream trucks and the smell of freshly cut grass. While the raw meat and flies look quite primitive at first, you begin to realize that this is the same meat you're eating at the restaurant down the street. These local markets give China a sense of community and neighborhood that I really like, as opposed to the detached sterility of the local Walt-Mart supercenter. That being said—food safety regulations are a nice luxury. To me these next two images highlight the development and rapid urbanization of China: the claw_Chengdu construction site_Tyler Krohman The Claw: While scenes of development are everywhere and can hardly be called unique in this country, this time period in Chinese history is unique. When we think of images from the past, often our minds are drawn to periods of change. China is changing and it is changing fast. It's a coming-of-age story, and like any other, there are casualties. "Out with the old, in with the new"—this cliché seems to echo like a mantra from the streets of the modern Chinese metropolis. In this hellbent quest to create some kind of sinosized utopia, there are no signs of slowing down. Despite the fact that there are currently over 60 million empty apartments in China. All this of course is under the guise of progress—living here you soon realize that progress doesn't come without cost. Something is always lost when the new replaces the old. construction site_Chengdu_Tyler Kroh Construction Site: I was standing on the opposite side of a river bank when I saw this couple and I had to smile. Amidst the development and construction they had found a place to be alone away from the eyes and ears of their countrymen. These places are really getting harder and harder to find. And while it seems this couple was successful, they hadn't escaped this foreigner and his camera. people make me lonely_Chengdu_Tyler Krohman People make me lonely: 1.4 billion people and an unspoken guarantee that you will never be alone. While quite true in a literal sense, the presence of others in itself is no cure for loneliness. In fact, there are times I have felt lonelier in China than I ever have in the sparsely populated country of Canada. In a sense "people" can make us lonely. Surrounded by people and isolated at the same time. What a strange aspect of the human condition. late night news_Chengdu_Tyler Krohman Late night news: It was late and I decided to take a walk. There is no algorithm that can predict the activities of the 11,000,000 people in the "sub-provincial" city of Chengdu. You never know what you are going to see around the corner. To me this picture highlights the amazing ability the Chinese have to make use of things. In this case making use of light from a street sign to catch up on some late-night newspaper reading. No doubt the story they are reading is one of progress and triumph, oh, and one day there will be reading lamps for everyone. All images © Tyler Krohman You can find more of Tyler's emotive images of Chengdu and beyond at his TyKroh Flickr photostream. If you'd like to make any of his work your own, photos can be purchased via Red Bubble.
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