Moments frozen in time

Photographer's ongoing project captures candid images of strangers, exhibiting them years later to show how their lives have evolved, Wang Qian reports.

By Wang Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-06 09:24
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The first exhibition was held in Beijing in 2022 as promised, with dozens of participants of Zhang's project showed up and some sharing their stories. [Photo provided to China Daily]

For photographer Zhang Qi, time may fly, but not so fast that precious moments can't be captured with his well-directed lens. For the past 14 years, the 46-year-old Beijinger has been involved in a nostalgic project to record the lives of ordinary people on black-and-white film. Every 10 years, he plans to hold an exhibition to show how time has shaped his subjects' lives.

Jiaopian Fengcun ("memory storage on photographic film") is a record of love, friendship, hope, loss and kindness. The subjects are all people that Zhang has met, either bumping into them on the street, being introduced to them by his friends, or meeting them online.

"For me, the project is more like a question with no standard answer. Some people may reflect on the power of time, and some may ponder on their choices in life. It is personal," Zhang says.

He thinks of the project as a seed, which gives birth to unpredictable results. When it is time for the seed to flower, you enjoy what emerges, whether it's to your liking or not. These "flowering seasons" are the three exhibitions he has planned, the first of which was held in 2022, with the next in 2032, and then 2042.

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