Visual Culture: Photographing Chinatown
In 2010, I began a project photographing San Francisco’s Chinatown. I was drawn to Chinatown’s physical and visual density of buildings, storefronts, signs and symbols, and an ever-present cultural collision of East and West. For me, those elements could best be explored in black and white, which can focus on the essential elements of light, shadow, image and meaning. I purposely avoid including people in these Chinatown pictures, although their presence is ubiquitous, through signs, symbols, graphic portrayals, and architectural elements such as open doorways and corridors.
I rarely photograph direct sunlight, preferring the subtleties of skylight, which filters down between the buildings. I shoot mainly in the early hours of the day to get that unique quality of early morning light. An added attraction to shooting early in the day is that there is less street traffic.