The Touch of A Moment
Author: Wang Yao
About the author:
Wang Yao, an outstanding Chinese female photographer, now serves as the President of China Photographers Association and Secretary of Party Leadership Group. She once worked as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Xinhua News Agency and Deputy Editor-in-Chief at China News Service. During her over 20 years of photojournalism career, Wang Yao has won numerous prizes: First Prize of World Press Photo Context, China News Award, Fan Changjiang Journalism Award, and honorary titles like Top Ten Press Photographers in China and Professional Writers and Artists of Virtues in China. Her works are collected by the National Art Museum of China, museums in such countries as America and Brazil, and other individuals. Her solo exhibition “Life of Opera” was held in the National Art Museum and Taipei Brick House. She has published several collection books including Chinese Stories, Post 911, The Unseen Peking Opera, Contemporary China — Kubuqi, Contemporary China — The Spring of Harbin, and Homeland. She also edited The History of Chinese Contemporary Photojournalism (1978–2008).
More discussion about The Touch of A Moment:
The Touch of A Moment is a collection of more than ten essays for Wang Yao’s Homeland series. This book mainly tells about her thinking during photographing, analysis on photos, and opinions in terms of photography. She not only illustrates her ideas on “particular moments” from technical perspectives, but also uses works as proofs: such ideas on structures and colors add to her exploration and practice.
This book talks a lot about Wang Yao’s opinions of photography, including sublimed feelings like “What is photojournalism? What patterns does it include? How does it serve better to record?” She hopes to find a distinctive way of herself to express in photography in search of a balance between documenting and aesthetics. In her eyes, photographers should be equipped with overall capability, ideological concepts, value judgment, and aesthetic feelings. This book also quotes theories and opinions from many renowned photographers, adding to its readability and values for collection.
At the same time, Wang Yao states her thinking on exhibition and spread of photos in the contemporary “Internet Plus” era. She hopes that Chinese photographers will be able to learn from the tradition and make innovation. With this, their creations will construct a system with Chinese characteristics, better meeting our expectation to spread contemporary Chinese culture to the world.
How will those moments become eternal ones?
Perhaps you will find answers here…
Even nowadays, we are still exploring the world, which is self-evidently a long-term task featuring difficulties. Sometimes we may feel that we make some innovation and breakthroughs. However, this illusion finally turns out to be merely following the old routines, difficult to break away from the set patterns. For instance, I used to think that I had created my own patterns and styles in using light and shadow as well as structural segmentation. Therefore, it is easy to imagine how frustrated I was when I saw the use of obscurity to express in Liverpool — An Impression by John Dudley Johnston, the use of pillars and stairs to segment the picture by Frederick H. Evans, and the use of light refraction to transform in It Looks Fresh by Erwin Blumenfeld. My so-called breakthroughs and techniques that “looked fresh” were not fresh at all, just resembling the used ones. Also, what stroke me most was that the first two photos abovementioned were shot 100 years ago!
— From Foreword
What inspired me were their eyes, those ones with perseverance, wisdom, profoundness, and a little bit melancholy, and I was really enchanted by the last quality. In these eyes I saw Pushkin, Turgenev, and Tolstoy… History and reality were connected: the sparkle of Russian spirits never went out in their eyes regardless of time and turmoil. As a result, I shot such a picture: a group of people gathered under a huge photo which showed a pair of a woman’s eyes — one with beauty, purity, perseverance, and hope looking at the front and demonstrating endless charms…
These eyes could have belonged to Martha, Anna Karenina, and Natasha…
— From Chapter I Essay on Homeland Russia: Pains and Happiness in One Sled
Never in the world has there been a country like Israel that is deprived of living space by both history and reality.
However, such limited space is never able to stop Israelis from pursuing their faith, hope, value, and beautiful life.
I can only think of “wonder of god” to describe it. “God” is here because Jerusalem endows certain relations with Judaism, Islamism, and Christianity; “wonder” here is to acclaim the existence of this country, a wonder in itself.
Because of this, Israel is a place to give birth to wonderful photos, too many of which holding me dazzled. For me, it is also a place with pressure and challenges. Am I able to shoot good pictures here?
As far as I can recall, Javier Vallhonrat once remarked that he wanted to approach things that were more real. He made such a metaphor: “What comes to my mind is the one who discovered gold first. He had been digging for a long time, never knowing what he would find or how much value could be attached. Yet finally he found a glittering object and was fascinated by it. Then, can I become the one digging up the gold? Am I able to find the glittering object?
— From Chapter IX Essay on Homeland Israel: Endless Room in Limited Space
Today, people in Bazhong City are fighting in the final battle against poverty with a hope to realize their China Dream and to build a well-off society in an all-round way. Here, I saw a typical picture showing the prospect and epitome for this rising developing country, China. Therefore, I decided to include photos and essays about Bazhong as contents of China into this book.
As a poverty-stricken area, Bazhong still lagged far behind the developed areas in east part of China. This was straightforward in people’s clothes and housing — many of their houses were still made out of mud walls and old tiles.
In recent years, schools have been renovated into new forms. Even so, a small number of them were still waiting to be better-equipped.
— From Chapter XIV Essay on Homeland Bazhong: Poverty Never Overshadows the Colorful Life