Francois Nadeau was lucky enough to go to China. I asked him a few questions about his experience about Beijing street photography and requested a few photos, here they are!
Inspiring Beijing Street Photography
I'm a professional photographer and, in my parallel life, a music composer for tv and documentary. I Live in Montreal, Quebec. Since my childhood, I was always attracted to photography. I like any kind of photography. I do corporate assignments, landscapes, portraits, macro, concerts,etc and I like to experiment with any kind of camera, digital or film.
How did you end up in Beijing?
Last year, after submitting my portfolio, I was selected to participate to the World photographers focusing on Beijing. This year, they have reinvited me again. So it's my second time in China. That event, created by Beijing Association for Cultural Exchanges and the Information Office of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, Beijing This Month Publications (BTMP) and the Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchanges Center, has been around since 1999.
Each year, they invite a bunch of photographers to take pictures of the city. So I was fortunate to be there with photographers such as Joe McNally, Trey Ratcliff and some other photographers from France, Egypt, Turkey, etc. . During 10 days, the organizers give you assignments: places and people to photograph.
So in a day, I could have a museum, then a park, then a commercial street to photograph. It's like a corporate gig. You get paid for it and you have to deliver. But with your creative input included because that's what they want. And you still have time to take pictures for yourself. So I had time to go around by myself and take some of the street life of Beijing.
What does it feel like to be there?
Its was great. Beijing is a huge city. Montreal is a village compare to it! And it's a fascinating city. A LOT is going on!! I could walk for hours and just take pictures without caring where I was going! From time to time, I was looking at my GPS on my iPhone to see if i was not going to far from a subway station or from where I was supposed to be later on in the day. For me, the best way to discover a city is to get lost in it!
What attracted you most about Beijing street photography?
Last year, it was of course the touristic attraction in China: Forbidden city, Tianamen Square, Temple of heaven, The Great Wall..You know, I wanted to see it all because I was not sure to ever come back. This year, definitly the people. How and where they live. I made a lot of friends and spend a lot of time trying to communicate with the inhabitants. Beijing is a safe city and for me, a heaven for street photography.
How were you and your camera received?
Very well.. actually, I think that they love to be photographed ! A simple smile and a “Ni Hao!” made the job. Almost everytime that I asked someone to take his or her picture, they said yes and then, they thank me for taking their pictures!!
What camera did you shoot with and why?
For street photography, mostly the Olympus O-EM1 with the Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8. I really love that camera. Small , light and very fast!! It's always ready just in case something happen really fast in front of me. Or my 5D MIII with the 50mm 1.4. Especially in low light situation. I love the combination of the 5D and the 50mm.
But It was really depending how I felt at the moment. If i think i'm in a situation where i”m gonna take people and portrait, then it's the 5D. If it's street action and more out of the scene kind of pictures, then it's the Olympus. I did use my iPhone quite a lot too to do Beijing street photography.
Any anecdotes you can share?
I like to photograph dogs but one little ugly, creepy dog did not like that so he started barking and running after me. Then he jumped on my leg to bite me!!! I was really freaking out, getting ready to be eaten alive!!! Arrrgggh Until I realized that he had no teeth because he was so old! I'm gonna be more careful from now on, I might not be as lucky next time.
Any closing comments?
Thanks for letting me share my passion and my experience. And continue your good work!!