PhotoChat: China with Rick Sammon
April 19, 2001
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What was the funniest thing you saw in China?
One night we went to the world famous Peking Opera. If you have never heard the Peking Opera, some people might think that the singing sounds funny. I found it beautiful. So, I don't really know if I can think about my funniest thing I saw or heard in China. I can say that our group of photographers did laugh a lot, and had a great time together.
What was the most beautiful thing you were able to photograph?
In the Forbidden City, we had some professional models who were beautiful. I also spent a lot of time in the Chinese gardens, and in some mountaintop areas, where I saw an incredible sunrise. That was beautiful. One of the most moving things I photographed was the dawn flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square. It was very moving.
What do you think of the "real" Chinese cuisine?
Believe it or not, I had Chinese food for dinner one hour ago! I LOVE Chinese food. But, the Chinese food here does not compare to the great Chinese food we had throughout our ten days in China. We had Peking Duck, all different types of soups, great vegetables, and delicious chicken and beef dishes.
Rick, how long were you in China and how much photographic equipment were you carrying around? I mean, did you always have your full kit with you?
I was in China for ten days. And I feel that if I travel light I have easy access to my equipment and can get great shots. So, I only packed my Kodak DC4800 Digital Camera, two SLR's, one SLR with a 17 to 35 mm zoom, the other SLR with an 80 to 200 mm lens, and a flash. So with that system, I can take basically all the pictures I want to take.
What did you do to capture the "essence" of China? Can you explain the techniques you used?
Well, I feel people make pictures come alive. So I focused on the people, in the big cities, in the small villages, and everywhere in between. And that was a challenge, as it always is, going into a foreign country and getting the people to accept you in a matter of minutes. So, to capture the China that I saw and that I wanted to share I focused on the people.
What would be the most surprising thing about Chinese life that you could share with us, that we wouldn't otherwise know about?
You might be surprised at actually how friendly everyone is. For example, we walked into a small village and everyone in the village invited us into their homes, we went into the school, and we walked around the farms, and the people were just so friendly to us.
Do you prefer to photograph in the villages or the cities in China? Why?
I like going into the villages, because I like to capture the remote feeling of a country. I figure, almost anyone can go into the city, and take pictures. But, I don't like cities, I don't live in a city, and I just like the countryside, so no matter where I go, I like the smaller villages. I find life is simpler there.
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