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'Beautiful sides' of two different cultures in photos

By Fu Jing in Berlin | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-27 12:55

With dozens of exhibitions, Chinese photographer Steve Hui Zhao has become famous for showing the smiling faces of ordinary Chinese to the outside world.

But he is more excited about putting happy faces of Chinese and Germans together in a photo exhibition.

'Beautiful sides' of two different cultures in photos

A vendor prepares and sells bratwurst in Leipzig, Germany. Photos by STEVE HUI ZHAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

"I aimed to show the most beautiful sides of the two cultures and encourage people to understand our similarities," Zhao told China Daily. "In turn, cultural elements can help sustain the two countries’ economic exchanges and trade flow."

Zhao has published a collection of photos of farmers, police, children, the elderly, teachers and businessmen from the two countries. The exhibition opened in March in Beijing and will soon be shown overseas.

Zhao, who was born in the 1960s in Jiangsu province and studied photography in the United States, said every photo in the exhibition was selected to show the similarities between Chinese and Germans.

Each of the images is like a conversation among people from the two countries.

With support from the German government, Zhao immersed himself last summer in the lives of ordinary German people.

'Beautiful sides' of two different cultures in photos

A vendor cooks and sells turnip strip cakes, a traditional food in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Photos by STEVE HUI ZHAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

He originally planned to just take photos of Germans, while a German photographer would take photos in China. The two photographers would then co-produce an exhibition to show the cultures of the two countries.

But Zhao proposed combining the two series of photos into one.

"As a Chinese photographer, I am confident I can finish the work," said Zhao. His innovative proposal was accepted.

Zhao said his visit to Germany was memorable and he was touched by the charm of Germany.

Zhao attempted to capture images of common people in their daily lives, and he wandered through the cities in search of interesting images.

"I went to a hundred streets from day to night, carrying my heavy luggage," he said.

He visited nine cities, including Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Hamburg. By the end of the trip, he had take more than 4,000 photos.

"The schedule was tight for such a big country. I walked with my eyes wide open and enjoyed a visual feast," Zhao said. "Sometimes, I just rested on the side of the streets, keeping the camera on and waiting for the persons to jump into my lens."

Zhao spent years in the US and has traveled to many different countries. "I prefer to say the years I lived out of China expanded my views on the fascinating culture everywhere in the world.

"This has increased my awareness of our own culture, and it has given me an intense desire to show the beauty of China to the world."

Cheng Shican in Brussels contributed to this story.

'Beautiful sides' of two different cultures in photos

'Beautiful sides' of two different cultures in photos

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