“Living is beginning, always, every moment.”
One of my favorite things about photography is the way it trains your eye to see the little things – the everyday, ordinary “stuff” that often goes unnoticed. As we move into 2014, Cheri has asked us to focus on Beginning. So perhaps 2014 should be a year for beginning to look more closely at the smaller wonders of the world around us. Some of those little miscellanies are among my favorite captures from our 2013 trip to China. So why not? Let’s begin this year’s Travels and Trifles with a post featuring those very incidentals.
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
I loved the way these large sunflower heads were so perfectly placed next to the basket of seeds. The display was part of a rudimentary shop in Ping Yao, where clearly the customers can be assured the seeds are fresh.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
A simple white tee shirt, hung on a makeshift clothesline, casts its shadow on the wall behind. Do you wonder who wore it, who washed it, or where it will go once it’s dry and ready?
“The artist is always beginning.”
Above, several tools of the trade stand ready to serve. I particularly liked the many shades of earth tone in the assembly, and the artistic arrangement which I assume happened by chance. The shiny, worn surface of the anvil’s head tells us it’s seen lots of use over time. For what, when, and by whom?
“He who chooses the beginning of the road chooses the place it leads to.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick
The obvious pride of this man who had brought his chickens to market caught my eye. He, like most of the Chinese people we encountered, was more than willing to have his photo taken. He’d have preferred, I think, to sell me a chicken but that wasn’t happening!
“There are only 2 mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not beginning.”
At the same market, fish hung by colorful red ribbons stared glassy-eyed and open-mouthed at passersby. Somehow they struck me as more appropriate for my lens than my table.
“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”
In the more remote areas, we saw livestock of many kinds, but this rather forlorn little fellow seemed to need a portrait for posterity. One of my favorite memories of the trip was the day I was walking down a dusty path in Shangri-La when two young boys came walking toward me with a dozen sheep. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the boys (who were intimidated by my long lens), the sheep (who couldn’t have cared less) or me. Fortunately, my lens was ready even if i wasn’t 🙂
“He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.”
We observed many Chinese men focused intently on board games like the one above. This is Xiangqi, the Chinese version of chess. Unlike pieces in the US, the tokens are round and typically wooden. They include Chinese characters as identification rather than being specifically shaped, and the game is played on the lines of the board rather than in its spaces.
“There is no end, there is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”
Birds in China serve as symbols of many things, including freedom, happiness, love and blessings from heaven. One of our more curious stops was at Hong Kong’s Yuen Po Bird Garden, where older Chinese men bring their pet birds for a “walk” much as Americans walk their dogs. It is an important area for senior socializing, with bird singing competitions alongside card and board games. Birds, birdcages, birdseed, bags of live insects and other items are sold as well, feeding birds and birders alike.
“The beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself.”
This window arrangement called out to me as I entered one of Beijing’s Hutongs. The juxtaposition of the bird cages, the simple white nightgown and the day’s newspaper reminded me of a scene in a 40’s or 50’s art noir film. Hence my post-processing treatment in soft sepia.
“Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.”
The graphics of this simple section of wall appealed to me, with nothing but textures, contrasting tones, and a few lines leading out of the shot. It reminded me of a modern art painting such as might have been done by Mondrian or Bennett Newman in their day.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Speaking of paintings, couldn’t this composition easily hang on the walls of a New York apartment or a Connecticut country house? The shapes and placement of the elements, especially the rudimentary faucet, called out to me in their timelessness.
“Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life.”
Finally, a stalk of bamboo – carved by an unknown visitor with an indecipherable (at least to me) message. Who left it, for whom, and what does it say? To me, it ‘s symbolic of the captures in this post – little messages sent from the subjects to my eyes, mind, lens, and finally post; the better to communicate with you, the reader. Which, if any, drew you in, and why? Food for thought as we all search for the most positive ways to implement this year’s new beginning.
If you’re interested in more of my photography and text about China, please click on this link for a complete preview of my book detailing the trip: http://www.blurb.com/books/4913316-the-magic-of-china-photography-and-text-by-tina-r .
After that, have a look at what “Beginning” meant to some other bloggers by clicking here.