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Beijing (Migrant Workers)

As this blog has evolved, so has my own personal style of photography. I have never been into taking monument pictures but like everyone else, I do take my shots of the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and the Taj Mahal. While primarily focusing on “daily life” I have often gotten emails asking why I would travel to India and focus primarily on common people walking the street? While I find all types of shots intriguing, I have been leaning lately to try to capture locals as a more unique, transparent, look at the native populous. There have been millions of pictures taken of the Great Wall of China but photos of daily life are always originals.

The booming Chinese economy has done some crazy things to the Chinese population. While other industrialized countries such as the US and UK developed wealth over a two hundred year period, China’s economy has come out of nowhere after embracing “Market Leninism”. Beijing and Shanghai are “promised land” destinations for peasants residing in western China. To enjoy the perks of living in Beijing, such as education, etc. one must have a residency permit.

Often, seasonal migrant workers will squat in shanty towns that do not have access to sanitation or electricity. Children are often left in western provinces with grandparents while parents look for work. While many of these slums in Beijing became victim of the wrecking ball prior to the Olympics in 2008, there are still many that exist. One such example sits on Xibahe North-East 3rd Ring Rd. in between high-rise construction projects. It is literally a few blocks away from a subway stop.

I have always been intrigued by these living conditions and took it upon myself to walk through this particular slum to get some shots. My limited knowledge of Mandarin came in handy as I greeted several squatters in the shanty town. Many residents seemed somewhat perplexed as I wondered farther into the narrow, dirt, alley ways.

After exchanging some introductions and a few smiles they were content with me walking around, basically on their front yard. It really puts a smile on your face when you see children who are living in abject poverty playing as if they don’t have a care in the world. I was careful though not to over step my boundaries by taking personal shots of the residents.

I will be posting a video in the next couple days detailing this shanty town as well as some footage from the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square.

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