Merci Marc!

There he was, climbing up a wall with a ladder to get a better view of what was on the other side. A quote stated something along the lines of ‘there are times you have to change the viewpoint to get the right image’.  This small image of photographer Marc Riboud demonstrating how he created some of his iconic photos, struck a chord with me.  I was in China visiting the 2010 exhibition: THE INSTINCTIVE MOMENT – A Retrospective, at the Shanghai Art Museum.  I was aware of his more famous photos, the Eiffel Tower painter, the woman placing the flower in the gun and the fabulously framed antique shop dealer photo from Beijing. These images by the renowned Magnum photographer were all there to see.

Shanghai was about to host the World Expo and the city was busy’ cleaning up’ its urban spaces.  This translated to, among other things, the destruction of many old, traditional neighbourhoods, the so-called Longtangs.  The homes were bulldozed and the occupants moved into new high-rise buildings.

Prior to seeing the Riboud exhibition, I snuck into an old Longtang neighbourhood that was in the process of being demolished.  To my surprise, there were still people living among the rubble, refusing to move. I spend a couple of hours taking photos and got out before I ran into trouble with the local authorities.

Having seen Riboud’s photos, many taken in China between 1957-2002, I kept thinking about that little photo of him looking over the wall.  This was a metaphor for me, to look beyond the obvious and to take some risks in my photography.  The next day I went back to the Longtang to take more photos.  As I wandered among the rubble, I saw it, a wall that prevented me from seeing what lay beyond it.  Instinctively I climbed it to look over.  The moment I had reached the top I saw a lone man cycling past a grand old house that was still standing. I lifted the camera and captured a photo that to this day I will remember as my Marc Riboud moment.

Merci Marc, you inspired me to focus closer on the moment and the emotions that can be found within that reality.

“Seeing is the paradise of the soul.”

Marc Riboud
(24.06.1923 – 30.08.2016)

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‘Merci Marc’ by Roman W. Schatz, Shanghai 2010

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Rediscover

I tooted my horn, gave them a thumbs up and was rewarded with two big grins! The young lads then headed off in their billy carts. But to them, these home-made vehicles were real racing cars!   I love the power of imagination and the sense of adventure, fearlessness and discovery that this moment evoked in me.

It also reminded me of why I am a photographer; I love to explore and have my understanding of the world challenged.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundanity of daily existence, that confirms itself with its comfortable routines. Photography forces me to look and reframe my understanding of reality, it allows me to rediscover the world anew every time I look through the view finder.   When I look back at what I have captured with my camera, there are many times that the grin on my face is as wide as the one of the young boys in their homemade racing cars.

Photo: Fuzhou, China, 2011

© R.W. Schatz

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Endure – Urban Change in China

Endure is a photo essay of Urban Change in China, it is now a featured exhibit on the Social Documentary website.
The online exhibit features photography by myself plus a short film that was produced with Morgan Schatz Blackrose and Shane Schatz.
To see the video, please select the Video/Multimedia section on the linked page.

http://socialdocumentary.net/exhibit/Roman_Schatz/2609

Endure

Endure