“Childhood is a human water, a water which comes out of the shadows. This childhood, in the mists and glimmers, this life in the slowness of limbo gives us a certain layer of birth…”

—Gaston Bachelard

“Childhood is not a thing which dies within us and dries up as soon as it has completed its cycle. It is not a memory. It is the most living of treasures and it continues to enrich us without our knowing it.”

—Franz Hellens

Within these scenes and reveries of childhood, I hope to zoom through time and see ourselves clearly within our surroundings. With these photographs, I hope to have a new knowledge of the past.

In the remote countryside of northern China, the scale at which change is occurring (and nature being destroyed) is a bit slower than elsewhere. Thus, it’s easier to find some kind of code or continuing relationship between nature and human beings.

—Shuwei Liu

Editors’ note: This fascinating series of portraits focuses on the subject of childhood. The work was selected as a finalist in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2016. Discover more inspiring work from all 39 of the winners and finalists.