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    An epic photographic journey

    China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-31 12:08
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    The Tu people harvest corn in Chenjiashan village, Xing'er township, Guanting town, Minhe county, Qinghai province, September 2019.[Photo by Chen Haiwen/For China Daily]

    Chen Haiwen, a photographer from Shanghai, has since 2008 traveled to 28 provinces and autonomous regions, 554 counties and cities across China. During the 260,000-kilometer trip, he visited 1,125 ethnic group representatives and cultural inheritors. He uses the lenses to record the ordinary life of China's 56 distinctive ethnic groups with his outstanding panoramic angle.

    Not long ago, his photographic masterpiece, We. the 56 Peoples of China, was on exhibition in Shanghai. The 4,000-square-meter exhibition area hosts more than 500 top works, all selected from hundreds of thousands of his photographs taken in the past 12 years. Motivated by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the country's full victory on poverty alleviation and the realization of a well-off society in an all-round way, the photographer reflects on his unique photographic journey with humanistic care and patriotic emotions.

    In his ethnic cultural records, Chen makes full use of pictures, videos, aerial photography and other means to document the 56 ethnic groups in China from various perspectives such as national identification, cultural patterns, daily life and festival activities.

    Chen calls the 500 photos "family portraits" and "portrait close-ups". He uses the simplest light possible to retain the traditional appearance of each ethnic group. In particular, each family portrait is set in the traditional dwelling house of this ethnic group. The picture not only includes the cultural inheritors of the ethnic group, but also records the typical family appearance of the ethnic group representing their intergenerational relationship. They wear ethnic costumes, and all kinds of information such as decorations, production and living utensils, cultural and artistic appliances, ethnic traditions and cultural totems are gathered in a single photo, presenting a documentary film with distinctive anachronistic imprints and the vitality and vigor of the 56 ethnic groups.

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