China through the lens


Spending a month on a photographic assignment in China has kick-started the careers of 19 Photomedia students.

The ECU Summer School Program for International Photojournalism in China is an intensive workshop where students complete photographic projects that make up part of their course credit.

Their photographic and video works will be on display in two separate upcoming exhibitions.

Photomedia Course Co-Ordinator and Tour Leader Duncan Barnes said the trip is an opportunity for students to work on ambitious projects well beyond what is possible for a typical assignment.

“Professionally it’s also a chance to engage with experts and mentors in the field of photojournalism, such as world renowned photographer Philip Blenkinsop,” Mr Barnes said.

“Traditionally we have worked in Bangladesh but this year we expanded to China; an obvious choice given our proximity and close relationships, and the incredibly diverse cultural experience that China offers,” he said.

Mastering the art of street photography

Street photography was the first project the students got their teeth into.

Mr Barnes said street photography is a style that’s all about people. It’s also one of the hardest types of photography to master.

“You almost need a sixth sense to pre-empt what is going to happen next,” Mr Barnes said.

“It forces the photographer to engage and get close up with complete strangers, and that can be rather intimidating.”

“It might be construction workers taking a cigarette break, or an interesting face in the crowd on the way to work.”

The diverse stories of China

The second part of the program was to create a video piece with a more in-depth researched story.

Mr Barnes said for some students that video piece ended up being about people they had randomly met for their street photography project.

“One student, Zev Weinstein, followed up on a man he met within the first few weeks. This man had lost his hand in a factory accident and now made a meagre living selling fruits and vegetables on the street,” Mr Barnes said.

Other stories included the fascination Chinese people have for their pets - embracing their fur babies as a member of the family and dressing them like a child, skateboarding in Shanghai, China’s one child policy, and the impact of national tourism on the remote Yunnan province – an area that recently became a World Heritage listed site.

An exhibition titled EXHALE, of the Photomedia student works, will be held at Gallery 25, Building 10, ECU Mount Lawley Campus from 9 March until 29 March.

If you’re interested in studying Photomedia, visit our Communications and Arts web page.

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