Zooming in on China with Melanie Dornier

Travel | by Melanie Dornier
Posted: June 15th, 2011 | Updated: January 11th, 2012 | Comments
China Photography_travel photography_chinese culture_chinese landscapes Ctripgirlandbreadtop_melanie Dornier French photographer Suzhou, China. >>> When I moved to China, I was surprised by the rapid urbanization here, the movement and contrast between past and present. It was this idea that inspired my project "Mes Lieux Chinois," currently on exhibition in France. In Mes Lieux Chinois, I try to present an artistic perspective of urban landscapes and demolition sites. For example, inside an empty building waiting to be demolished, you will find the kind of scene below. In this picture, I mainly focus on light, the key element in photography. The color, tone and texture are also very important elements. Suzhou, China kitchen by Melanie Dornier Another part of the Mes Lieux Chinois project is that of the old China meeting the new. This famous spot in Shanghai, expresses it well: Contrast_Shanghai by Melanie Dornier A semi-graduated filter has been used for sky. I find the sky to be without any "expression" in China's cities—often grey and surrounded by grey in the urban landscape. The next picture is the result of another grey day, leaving you to fix your attention on the lines. I used a filter here as well: China_Suzhou_urban_landscape by Melanie Dornier Portrait and everyday life scenes are the style of photography that I enjoy the most. When I first started taking pictures in China, I found it difficult to take portraits that I could appreciate though during my time in India, I took mainly pictures of people. After thinking about it I understood that my approach was wrong; in China I didn't have to search for a connection between subject and camera. Instead it was about creating an invisible presence for the camera. Soon after that realization, I was walking in Suzhou, and this girl caught my eye, a fleeting image of her lost in her thoughts and dreams. Ctripgirlandbread_Melanie Dornier A strong believer in education, I photographed the scene below. Also taken in the old streets of Suzhou it highlights the culture of education here. I had to ask the girl's mother if I could enter the living room to take the picture—that was an adventure! China_Education_Melanie Dornier Capturing movement shows a city in motion, an important aspect of any city and this is what I have tried to achieve in this next shot. The color of the boy's shirt holds my attention and all the phone numbers written on the wall remain mysterious to me. Jiangsu_walkingboy_Melanie Dornier Curious and loving to push beyond the boundaries of the city I call home, I have spent a lot of my spare time and energy on travel in China, looking for part of the country that inspires me to photograph it. I think an important part of photography lies in the experience and the background of each image. In Yunnan, lost in a Tibetan Catholic community, I met these two wonderful kids. They were quite excited to see some foreigner crossing their village and I was able to capture this moment of joy: ctripkids_Melanie Dornier In Pingyao, Shanxi, this girl was intrigued, or perhaps scared by my presence. Not everybody reacts in the same way to a lens pointing at them. Here, the graphics of the scene and expression of the girl made for a successful picture. ctripgirlandbike_Melanie Dornier In Guangxi, an unexpected meeting in middle of rice field can result in this kind of expressive portrait. It is again a "moment" picture—the next one and you would miss the expression on this face. ctripoldman_Melanie Dornier Still life is not only for painting; in remote villages you can always find spots with great compositions and natural light. This picture was taken thought a fence in a village in Guangxi and the lighting and composition worked well in this dark environment. Note that this doesn't follow the rule of thirds as most of my other pictures do. ctripbowl_Guangxi_Melanie Dornier I'm very excited that in 2011 my work has been recognized in France. Declic Photo, a French magazine, has selected some of my China images for "Zoom", a Salon de la Photo contest in Paris and the French event in photography. Four out of five of the photographs chosen by Declic are shown in this article... can you guess which ones? All images © Melanie Dornier The Zoom contest pitches Melanie against 11 other emerging French photographers and the winner will get the chance to exhibit at the most important photography event in France. The first prize is won by public vote, so if you have enjoyed what you've seen here, please support her in this exceptional career opportunity by visiting the Zoom website and voting for her work. For further information about Melanie and current and future exhibition listings, check out her Melanie Dornier website
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