Sometimes good things come in small packages. While small in terms of pixel size, “Chinese Farmer” – China c.1918 is rich in its message. As you may know my field is International Relations. I cannot defend the policies of Communist China nor that of the PLA. But I will say that to understand some of the current actions taken by Communist China you really need to study the history of China. If you truly understand their past it will greatly help in comprehending their actions vs. Taiwan, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
Here is a fine example of an occupational portrait: “Bamboo Man“; China/Malaysia? (March 9, 1961). We know the date but are unsure of the exact location. It is the occupational portrait rather than a studio or otherwise sterile portrait that gives meaning to the image. Showing the subject in his/her natural habitat so to speak.
A rare image by any measure is this photo of travelers on the road to Hei Long Tan (Black Dragon Pool) at Lijang to view the pagoda. Especially rare considering its source: Gouvernment Official Indochine (France). “Yunnan, China c.1906“.
Our younger readers of this blog may have never heard of the film The Sand Pebbles (1966) starring Steve McQueen. As a fan of McQueen I watched this film many times decades ago. McQueen plays a U. S. Navy seaman aboard the U.S.S. San Pablo, a gunboat on a rescue mission on the Yangtze River in war torn China in 1926. One of the most dramatic scenes in the film is when the San Pablo tries to run the Chinese blockade on the river. This lead photo, “H.M.S. Medway in Tsingtao c.1931“. is the spittingi image of that scene in the film.
Diagonal lines are good. Horizontal and to a lesser extent vertical lines are bad by comparison. By this we mean that in photography, diagonal lines draw the viewer’s attention into the image creating a dynamic and tension element into an otherwise staid photograph.
This is why photos lacking diagonal lines do not move our subconscious to the same degree and are, in effect, boring by comparison. Take a look at the lead photo here: “Refugees: Rebuilding After Typhoon Mary“; Hong Kong (June 15, 1960). The toddler in the left foreground is a plus, but see how many vertical lines you can find in this photo. In the background is Victoria Peak. See: Typhoon Mary.
A study of geopolitics reveals that there are no right or wrong answers. There are no absolutes. There is only a position that is more right then wrong, and the side which is usually the most committed wins. U. S. policy toward China has featured a one China official recognition for decades. We need to remember that we are a republic in existence for a little more than 200 years while Chinese civilization in the dynastic period is over 4000 years old. Their prehistory predates the dynasties by thousands of years.