Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Photography touched by devotion

Updated: 2013-09-05 11:02
By Li Yang in Nanning ( China Daily)

Yang Yankang is a Chinese documentary photographer famous for his work on religion.

He spent nearly 14 years photographing a Catholic community in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, and another decade taking photos of Buddhist Tibetans.

"I think a responsible documentary photographer should set a certain period of time to 'get close' to his or her targets," Yang says.

Born in 1954 in Anshun of Guizhou province, Yang was a mechanist for hosiery knitters in a local footwear factory before he went to Shenzhen in Guangdong province in 1984 in search of a better life. He worked as a steamed-bun cook in a restaurant and met Li Mei, the chief editor of a local photography magazine, who came to eat in the restaurant.

"Li used to give lectures on photography in Anshun and I recognized her as soon as she came in," Yang recalls. "I told her I liked photography very much and asked her if there were any jobs for me."

 Photography touched by devotion

A picture by Yang Yankang features a young Buddhist monk memorizing the scriptures.

Yang was later employed as a distributor of the magazine.

"I learned a lot from appreciating works of many masters," Yang says. "Li Mei loaned me her camera on the weekend and asked me to start from the basics."

Yang went to take photos of people's lives in the Loess Plateau in Shaanxi province, following the documentary photography master Hou Dengke for 40 days during his vacation in 1985.

Photography touched by devotion
Capturing a continent

They came across a Catholic priest just released from 15-year imprisonment during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), who was secretly praying in Fengxiang of Shaanxi province with his followers in the village yard.

"I was shocked by their dedication to their belief in a society that had only just thawed, and decided to make civil religion in China my subject," says Yang.

He quit his job at the magazine and worked as an independent photographer in 1992 in Shenzhen. He stayed in Shaanxi for one-third of a year and worked in Shenzhen for the rest of the time to make money. His photo project on the Catholic community in Shaanxi was completed in 2001.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page