Scouting in Beijing, surely when taking a look at national monuments or important cultural sites, generally means walking—a lot. Cranked over seven miles yesterday. More tk today. Each step is valuable, even though I have been to each of these sites many times. You go back to look again, because you just never know. You relentlessly search for an edge for your client. Something different just might be out there that would complement the job at hand.
Along the way, at almost every step, there are wonderful diversions. No matter how many times I’ve been here, difference is everywhere, sustained and expressed by the boundless energy and omnipresence of humanity.
It’s a good thing to like people on a job like this ‘cause there sure are a lot of them here in Beijing. It’s a city, at last rough count, of at least 20 million. Holy smoke. Just walking through the Forbidden City is like an extended, energetic bumper car ride. Below, jockeying for a snap of the chair of the emperor.
The unabashed nature of so many people spontaneously singing, exercising, arguing, gambling, playing checkers, dancing or just acting out their own private little Idaho in some leafy corner of a park always produces an ongoing smile behind the camera. It’s frustrating, too, ‘cause I am often too slow to capture the quick and fluid nuance of it. I take solace that another moment is just around the corner.
More today. Scouting at the Olympic Park, which is the site of the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube. Then comes a meeting, most likely a long one, to determine how to deploy resources, like cars, gear, ladders, boats, and the like. Tomorrow, 4am call. It’s a bear looking for good light at this time of the year here. You have to be like a light thief, slipping in undetected and purloining a few good slivers of the sun before it awakes like a giant in the sky and brings down an almighty sledgehammer of pulverizing heat and haze. For most of the day, at that point, it sits on your chest like a large, overheated dog, panting in your face, smiling and mocking your puny, desperate photographic aspirations.
If you wait it out, it will relent, just a bit, and become a more friendly participant in your wander. And, speaking of friendly, folks here are plum easygoing and gracious. Especially attractive, young Chinese females, who, for some odd reason I can’t completely fathom, find Jon a fascinating partner for snaps and selfies. Go figure:-)))
lewis w says
With the explosion of change in China, are you still assigned a watcher?
Jessica Little says
Aww, I’m a sucker for great couple shots
Joe, keep up the good work. I enjoy your tales from being on the road – fwiw I see you as a “proper photographer”. Amusing item on Jon’s success with all those lovely Chinese girls needing selfies. By the way, I couldn’t work out the position of her left hand – fingers and thumb ?
Joe McNally says
Hey Richard…thanks. It has its moments when you are out there with a camera, home or away. As far as her hand goes…dunno about the confusion. She’s giving her girlfriend’s camera a thumbs up, I believe. Hand a bit distorted of course as I am close to her with a 20mm…..
Adam Coupe says
I love the ‘Dog sat on the chest’ description.