Images first, explanation second: but we must be clear from the outset that I cannot take any credit at all for the images that I have included below, even if I would of course love to. I will just have to be happy simply basking in the reflected glory that comes from presenting this small selection of Sue Anne Tay’s work. These photographs are taken from Sue Anne’s website Shanghai Street Stories, which she kindly gave me permission to use here (each picture links to the original image and the story behind it).
Sue Anne Tay is a Shanghai based part-time photographer, although there’s nothing much part-time about her photography, other than the fact, that on top of her photographic work she holds down a day job as a researcher within Shanghai’s financial sector. I came across her site for the first time a few months ago and have been regularly dipping into it ever since.
Sue Anne’s work offers intimate and thought provoking glimpses of Shanghai street-life, which she brings to us not only through her photography, but also through the contemplative stories that she writes to accompany her images. She also brings Shanghai to life in other ways, by acting as a conduit through which different artists, writers and photographers are brought together, and brought to us.
This is done through a series of interviews that she is developing, entitled ‘Behind the Camera’, and through an interesting catalogue of links that she continues to compile. The areas that Sue Anne has included to date are: China Blogs, China Photography, Photo Blogs and Magazines, Photojournalists, and Street Photography. Sue Anne was also co-organizer for the 8th Shanghai Photographer Night that was held in April.
Shanghai Street Stories is a treasure trove of beautiful and evocative images, and kindly and revealing words, with an intertwining network of useful and interesting references and links that can be browsed through happily. It is a combination that gives the feeling of wandering around a gallery space of tardis-like proportions, with a useful reference library tucked away in the corner.
So, when I recently felt like adding a few more China related photographs to my own Notes, to give a different impression of life in China than the one that can be picked up through my own random thoughts, my mind immediately turned to Sue Anne. A quick email later, and I was off rummaging through her back catalogue of posts and images. Where I soon gained a greater sense of Sue Anne’s eye for a picture, and her nuanced feelings for the lives of the Shanghainese.
Whether they are born and bred in the City or whether they are migrants passing through, Sue Anne has managed to capture the world they inhabit. She uncovers an intimacy that is representative of personal lives lived and shared, but she is able to do so with a non-judgemental detachment. It would seem that one of the beauties that comes from mastering the art of photography is the creation of images that silently reveal, to all of us with our differing perspectives and experiences, multiple layers of interpretation. That is to stay that a great image can be enjoyed equally by many, but for many different reasons.
Happy days indeed here in Xi’an, even if they arrive via Shanghai. Hopefully, Sue Anne’s work will also act as a metaphorical kick in the pants for me, to further help me take up my own camera and get out on Xi’an’s streets a bit more often. But, we’ll see about that. For now it is just a pleasure to enjoy other people’s fine work, and there is plenty of that over at Shanghai Street Stories.