The value of photographs

I think the value of photos changes as you age. In your twenties, a decade in the future is off the horizon, but in your thirties you can look ten years in both directions.

The younger me saw life as an all-or-nothing state, but now I see it as a slow process. Time slowly consumes us, until it wins.

This also changes the type of photograph that I value. Not the selfies, photos of landmarks, but more honest ones of daily life; streets, people, workplaces.

Sometimes it’s personal. This is from my first day in China, Tianzifang in Shanghai, 27 May 2017.


Other times it does feel part of a bigger whole, like this lady in a textile factory, Qingpu, Shanghai. 10 April 2019. Full story here.


Or the lockdown in Shanghai. This was the night of our release after 60 days. 31 May, 2022.


Or the (in)famous market in Wuhan, 4 November 2020.


I took this shot on 21 January 2020 on Shanghai’s line 10, and that day wrote down: “The fear of the virus is visible in the shape of face masks, even the ones that don’t protect against it.”


This place won’t exist in the future. This is Brother Zhang (张哥), who is speech impaired. But he wants to work, and works hard. The community has put some money together and Zhang takes care of the garbage and the land in the area for a monthly salary. Nantong, 3 October 2022.


Preparing newspapers for delivery. Yangpu, Shanghai. 17 June 2022.