China photography tour led by Robert van Koesveld May 2013 for new and experienced photographers and travellers. Guizhou is rich with photographic and narrative possibilities, in part because it is China’s least developed province and over a third of the population is officially described as ‘ethnic minority’. So this is where we can meet people finding creative ways to celebrate and maintain their own traditions and culture, while engaging with the opportunities and challenges of ‘modernisation'.
A photography tour in China which will focus on the Miao and Dong communities in areas less travelled by local tourists so that there is opportunity and time to experience our encounters more deeply and begin to understand the lives and complex choices of these village people. Engaging with others going about their normal routines requires respectful curiosity and creative good humour; then comes the photographic moment. Our guides and interpreters will help us make sense of the unusual and the everyday so that the stories begin to build and inform our photographic choices. There will be flexibility for individual photographic passions.
Since this area of Guizhou is subtropical, the small ancient villages and farms are tucked away in warm valleys, often surrounded by cloudy ridges and so each community has its own festivals and craft traditions, including extraordinary costumes, textiles and jewelry. During the photography tour we will observe and photograph the Miao Siyueba Festival in Huangping and dancers in Basha, a Dong village as well as visit craftspeople active in textiles, embroidery and papermaking.
This is a photography tour for travellers with a range of photographic interests and skills. Robert has highly developed coaching and mentoring skills so he can respond to individual needs. Mostly we stay in each location for two or three nights so we can focus our energy on exploring the nearby villages. It will be fascinating to reflect upon the cross-cultural experiences within and between these villages as well as between the Miao, Dong and Han peoples and ourselves.
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Basha villagers have maintained a strong link to their ancient traditional Miao practices and their wooden homes on stilts cascade down the hillside. Here we will commission a performance as well as a portrait shoot. We should come away with some fine images.
We will work with interpreters to help understand from the locals how they are maintaining culture in the face of change.
Time with the local women who weave and dye indigo cloth. We will have an interpreter so that we can get some of the context and history of the cloth as well as details of the quite complex processes involved. It should provide material for a photo essay, slide show or short article for those that are interested in presenting images in those formats.