Since 2009, the Chinese city of Chongqing has observed a rapid transition to urbanism.
Recently French photographer and Blink user Tim Franco spoke to Blink’s Sahiba Chawdhary about his book “Metamorpolis- Urban Rise” capturing the city’s development process which he will be presenting later this week at the Asia Society of New York.
Sahiba: Can you tell us about your book and what inspired it?
Tim: I have always been attracted to chaotic urban environment. I wanted to document the transition from rural to urban and Chongqing was the perfect city to document this change as you can witness the uncontrollable growth of concrete taking over farmlands.
My book is about presenting the fast urban development process in the city of Chongquing. This growth is unique because the city is being built between mountains and two major rivers. It helped me present a point of view to the city urbanism.
I wanted to capture the beauty of chaotic city. At the same time, I admired the local adaptation to change. I am impressed by Chinese people and their ability to adapt to change and overcome difficulties. I show how to people try to live there and entertain themselves during this change. I particularly enjoyed the Chongqing experience of spicy food, culture and urbanism.
Sahiba: How much time did you spend there to complete this project?
Tim: I spent five years documenting the city. In 2009, I visited the city while traveling to secondary cities in China. The urbanism change caught my eye and I decided to return. Since then I traveled back and forth to shoot the urbanization of the city.
Sahiba: How did tackle the language barrier while completing your project?
Tim: When I first arrived in China, I went to university to learn Mandarin. While documenting this project I tried to overcome the language barrier by learning the local dialect to talk to my subjects and connect with them.
It is exciting for my subjects to interact with a foreign photographer. Actually, one of the main portraits in my book are special because of my interactions.
Sahiba: Were you working on other projects while working on your book?
Tim: Yes, I often do freelance assignments for publications. Photojournalism is a tough market. However, I try to immerse myself in it along with my commercial projects. I often travel across China for work.
Shockingly, I was traveling in France and I received an assignment via Blink because of the Blink map plug-in on my website. It was a pleasant surprise because I did not imagine that I could get assignments while traveling in France. Unfortunately I was not able to do it, but the magazine contacted me based on my portfolio on Blink because they were doing a story on urban landscapes.
Similarly, while traveling in secondary cities of China, Blink has helped me remain connected for assignments. I was not aware of this before, but the small location plug-in map on your website makes a huge difference. It is a revelation for the freelancers and it has made a difference for me.
Sahiba: What are your future projects?
Tim: This was a long and exciting project. I want to sell as many books as possible so the world can see and appreciate the rapid changes happening in China.
I will be traveling from the East coast to the West coast for a portrait project while promoting my book on the side. It would be a personal project to relax and have fun with my camera. I’ll be shooting with medium film format as I find it easier because I feel like I gain more time while shooting film.
My goal is to work on my style which is picking a place I like and capturing the right moment. My aim is to shoot less and more efficiently for the next project.
Tim Franco is a French photographer based in Shanghai, China. His work has been published in many international publications. He would be speaking at the Asian Society Museum of New York on Wednesday where he will be talking about his work followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Book sales and signing will follow the discussion. You can find the event here.