Feature: Australian photographer views China through multiple lenses

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-06 16:16:37|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Duncan Murray

SYDNEY, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Since long before he set foot in China, Australian journalist and photographer Marcus Reubenstein had been a witness to the nation's unprecedented growth and development.

"My family, particularly my father had been dealing with China since the very early 1980s," Reubenstein said.

"At that time the Japanese economy was booming and people around the world were learning how to speak Japanese, but my father said you should be learning how to speak Chinese because China will emerge."

It wasn't until 2009, when he first travelled to China, touching down in Guangzhou, that Reubenstein realized the true extent of the nation's potential.

"I guess I was very much surprised by the advancement of the Chinese society and this sprawling metropolis," he said.

"Even ten years ago, it was clear Guangzhou was not only a major Chinese city, but also an international city that would only continue to grow."

Over the next decade, Reubenstein would track that development through the lens of a camera -- visiting 23 Chinese cities and capturing thousands of images.

A collection of those photos were exhibited for the first time in Sydney earlier this year, under the banner "China Moments In Time".

"The response from my exhibition in both China and Australia has been great; in particular the Australians who were the majority of visitors to the exhibition," Reubenstein said.

"Many people said for the first time they felt a real connection with the people in China simply through seeing these images."

Thanks to his extensive travels throughout China, long standing personal friendships and enduring passion for photography, Reubenstein has gained a rare insight into the nature of China which few foreigners witness.

Using that insight, in 2013 he founded a consultancy agency, Red Door Asia, specializing in the promotion of Chinese events and businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

In these instances Reubenstein says he must balance not only business interests but also the underlying cultural values of both the Australian and Chinese representatives, to create something of mutual benefit.

At the heart of what Reubenstein does both in business and through his photography is to make sure that people remain the focus of the picture.

"I always like to have a scenery that is uniquely Chinese, but there has to be people in the center," Reubenstein said of his photographs.

One of the themes in Reubenstein's photography is the generational progression in China, which he views as stark compared with other countries, having developed so rapidly in such a short period of time.

"Old people are very interesting, because there's a character and a warmth on their faces -- while with young people there is a brightness and an expectation," he said.

"Young people now have opportunities that their parents and their grandparents could never have had, so that's the exciting thing, they have a life of possibility that everything is ahead of them."

Reubenstein plans to return to China later this year to visit Sichuan and Shandong provinces, and is currently exploring opportunities to exhibit his work internationally.

Through his work Reubenstein hopes to help those viewing China from the outside understand and engage with the country as an emerging power, by introducing them to the Chinese people he believes are at the heart of its great success.

"As I've said throughout my exhibition, throughout my travels, the greatest resource China has is its people and so through my photography, I'd like to tell the story of these people."