China / People

Grandfather serves as photographer's muse

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-27 10:13

Grandfather serves as photographer's muse

A chic fashion photo of Ding Bingcai taken by his grandson, a photographer. Photos provided to China Daily.

Grandfather serves as photographer's muse

Ding Bingcai wears his everyday clothing. Photos provided to China Daily.

A 30-year-old professional photographer with an interest in fashion recently found an unlikely yet dapper muse: his 85-year-old grandfather.

Ding Guoliang typically uses models in their 20s for his chic fashion photos. But it was images posted online of his gracefully aging grandfather in stylish suits and accessories that brought Ding the most attention.

Three-piece suits, fedoras, half-rimmed glasses worn elegantly by Ding Bingcai reminded viewers of snapshots of stylish men of a similar age on streets abroad.

"He looks amazing in the pictures. Not everybody looks good in suits. But he's got class," Ding Guoliang said.

"My grandfather never showed timidity during the photo shoot. At his age, he has become quite calm about many things. He just enjoyed my company."

Unlike the fashion icons found on the pages of magazines and newspapers, Ding's grandfather is a farmer who spent most of his life in a village in Fujian province. He moved out to live with his children in Xiamen a few years ago.

But he easily exchanged his plain rural garb for higher fashion and projected the air of a graceful and fashionable gentleman. "He had never worn suits before," said Ding, who took the pictures in September during a visit by his grandfather. "It was normal, even if there were holes in the clothes."

For the fashion shoot, his grandfather received a total makeover. A friend of Ding's lent him the clothes and other props for the project, which used scenes of cozy cafes and streets wet with rain as a backdrop.

Guoliang said he likes to see the "very calm and very serious old man" smile. "He doesn't like to smile too much. I feel so happy when he smiles at me through the lens. It feels so warm."

The photographs provide a fond memory of the time the two spent together, and Ding said he hopes the pictures will encourage other family members, including his cousins, to spend more time with his grandfather.

The grandfather has five children living in different cities, and they have taken turns caring for him since Ding's grandmother died in 2014.

"Taking care of him is not just about offering food and clothing. It means ... making him happy, making him feel that he exists and gratifying him mentally," Ding said. "I kept talking to him while taking these pictures, and I made him smile."

Ding, who was in Beijing on Saturday to appear as a guest on China Central Television's Voice, said he would like to stay in the city for a few days and see the sights. "I promised my grandfather I would take him to Beijing and visit Tian'anmen," Guoliang said. "Maybe we will go there if it gets a little warmer."

The show will be aired on Feb 13.

Yang Jie in Fuzhou contributed to the story.