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Forbidden City Portraits

In June, 2005 I worked on a self-funded project taking portraits of Chinese tourists and Beijing residents near the outer walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Using a Rollieflex 2 1/4 camera and Kodak Tri-X film, I wanted to shoot portraits of all the people who came to the palace for sightseeing or to relax near the massive palace complex. I worked with a translator, gathering names and asking where people traveled from but by the third day out on Tiananmen Square I was detained by plain clothes police and told in not uncertain terms, to stop. It was a way for me to photograph Chinese from all around the country, but in one place, the center of the universe.

People come from all over the country to see the palace and Tiananmen square and mix with beggars, street vendors, taxi drivers, Communist party cadres, Tibetan monks and locals out for a simple walk. I eventually shot over 100 portraits, edited them down to about 30.

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