An eye for the common folk

By Zhang Lei / Zhu Lixin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-11-08 09:17:44

An eye for the common folk

Liu Tao, the street photographer, is enthralled by images that flit past his eyes every day in Hefei. Photo provided to China Daily

Girls sip soft drinks as they smile down from billboards. A migrant worker squats down, laughing as he examines his text messages. A fat security guard on a tricycle stretches to suck his yogurt from a container, his tight clothes bulging against the buttons. A lean-looking pancake vendor swiftly finishes his masterpiece.

Liu Tao, the street photographer, is enthralled by these images that flit past his eyes every day in Hefei, Anhui province. The photos of grassroots daily life that result present a sense of conflict, which have won applause from netizens. Through Liu's camera lens, those seemingly transient scenes of everyday life take on a more permanent nature.

The 32-year-old has amassed a collection of fun moments as well as intriguing individuals through his lens. For example, a crowded street is filled with people rushing in all directions, unaware of the contrasts they are creating in Liu's lens.

Liu wears a flat-brimmed hat, a pair of sports shoes and big headphones-you would encounter many boys in such city attire in the streets. It is difficult to associate him with his routine job walking up and down every alley in the neighborhood, knocking on doors asking for permission to write down water-meter readings.

Working as a water-meter reader in Heifei for years, he never imagined his life would change so much because of his photos. Liu became an overnight sensation when Sanlian Lifeweek, the renowned Chinese lifestyle magazine, posted a series of his images on Sina Weibo last month. His photos are full of street drama and black humor: Some critics call him the Chinese Vivian Maier.

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