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The fascinating life of a South Sea photographer in a closed China

Shenzhen, China abandoned during the first wave of Covid. Photo: David J Colman

However, in June 2020, only the minimum wage and essential workers walked down this street every day. Residents like expatriate David Colman were only allowed to buy groceries once every three days.

South Sea photographer for 2 years China On a trip that began in August 2019 at a technology hub in Shenzhen known as Silicon Valley in China.

The former Jessops manager then plans to move to Jiaxing on the Grand Canal of the country in August 2020 to help others see “real China” and how it was treated throughout his time there. Was set up. For David, capturing events that wouldn’t be seen otherwise was a lifelong dream.

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Photographer David Colman stayed in Shenzhen, China during the first wave of Covid. The expatriate captured life through the lens at the height of the blockade. Photo: David J Colman

But when she moved to China with her wife, Sally Fan, after she got a job at an international school at the age of 54, I don’t think he’s there to catch the biggest health crisis in over 100 years. It was.

So far, his two-year trip has been a solid support for him after two successful Chinese photo contests, filming for future appearances on China Central Television (CCTV) and local radio stations. increase.

David says he is currently featured in an expatriate photo contest. news His passion for photography began when he was a teenager. “I just had a cheap camera. I ended up working at Jessops on Arundel Street in Portsmouth and eventually became an assistant manager.

However, the rise of the Internet in the 90’s allowed customers to find camera equipment online much cheaper, so he left Jessops “after High Street began to die.”

Shenzhen fresh market. Photo: David J Colman

David lived in Shenzhen for five months when the first case of coronavirus appeared in Wuhan. He and his wife realized that when Covid attacked, they themselves were under some of the strictest blockade rules in the world.

He states: ‘I needed an ID card with a photo, name and passport number to leave the building that the guards were watching. Your temperature was measured everywhere you went, from entering a flat block to entering a supermarket.

David recalls the experience of a friend in another Chinese city where people were arrested when police taped a door in the middle of a blockade and broke the tape. However, “there were virtually no cases for months,” so strict measures seemed to work.

“I’m getting on the bus here and people are ignoring the rules and getting the mask wrong. People have obeyed the rules and I felt much safer in China.

David Colman and his wife Sally Fan. Photo: Courtesy of David J Colman

“I think our government is very slow to react. In China, we don’t have three days to prepare for the blockade. It will just happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

David spent his time in China in 2006 and 2007 before he was alone with a camera. He noticed a cultural difference in the attitude of the general public towards photographers compared to Britain.

He states: ‘Cultures are very different and it takes weeks to get used to. People don’t care too much if you take a picture of them or point your camera at them. But they are curious and seem to be more interested in what you are doing. “

The pandemic has increased cases of racism and alien exclusion as Asians have accused the spread of Covid-19.

Chinese South Sea photographer David Colman. Photo: Courtesy of David J Colman

L1ght, an organization working on “reducing online toxicity,” reported on Twitter that racist cases targeting Asian groups increased by 900%.

David repeats this:’Chinese people are friendly, but people can be very prejudiced. They have no idea what it looks like. On social media, I saw someone blaming the Chinese fresh market (which sells fresh food) for the entire pandemic. I posted a local photo, asked if it seemed unsafe and asked them to send their photo. They couldn’t because they obviously didn’t know. “

David’s wife, Sally, also had a bad experience in Britain, but David was similarly discriminated against when he stayed in China. “When I walked down the street, people moved the kids out of the way. I had a woman jump into the bush once. I had someone chuck me cash at the store. rice field.

Before leaving the country, David was grateful that the Director of Foreign Affairs gave him a special gift and helped promote intercultural relations with the city.

He also posted two photos on China Daily. China Daily boasts the largest number of prints in any English newspaper in China.

One of the articles featured his photo of a woman picking water chestnuts in Jiaxing’s South Lake. It was jointly ranked second in a city photo contest for foreigners.

A photo of David Colman, a woman picking water chestnuts. Photo: David J Colman

His photo of the deserted Shenzhen city center took him to the final of the Expert Eye Shenzhen Photo Contest. “I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must have picked it up, and I had lunch with the director several times. I was honored for raising the profile of the city.”

“Director Shen gave the presentation box a silk-covered book about Confucius’ writing.”

It is written in both languages ​​and is engraved with the official government seal.

A message from the editor, Mark Valdron.

The fascinating life of a South Sea photographer in a closed China

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