Reproduced with permission from:
The Galena Gazette July 23, 2008
article written by Jane Holland
P.Carter Newton, Publisher

Seeing China:
Through a photographer's eyes

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What an invitation! Frank McMahon, a part-time resident of the Galena Territory, was one of ten photographers who were invited to tour Rizhao City, Shandong Province, China.

Everyone is getting ready to go to China for the Olympic Games and he is reminiscing about the time he spent there.

It may seem like a pilot for a reality TV show: ten ASMP photographers were invited last fall by the Shandong Provincial government to document the eastern coast port city of Rizhao in China for seven days. During this whirlwind one-week experience, the photographers immersed themselves in the mysterious culture, the rich history and the industrious people of Rizhao which means "Sunshine." Each evening, these seasoned pros shared their work with each other for open and honest critiques. Fueled by these new discoveries and insights, the self nicknamed "Sunshiners" hit the streets creating high-quality, beautiful images that grew more incredible as each day passed. What started as an once-in-a-lifetime trip to photograph, evolved into an unforgettable journey to grow as photographers with the resounding support of a community.

Rizhao, with a population of three million, is an industrial city on the coast, however it is becoming more of a resort community.

"Basically we were there to document the city," McMahon said.

He thought it was a funny that in a news article from the local paper, it was said that "They were deeply impressed by this mysterious land and its industrious people. During their one-week stay in Rizhao, they shot a lot of pictures, capturing the various moments of this oriental city."

"China is wonderful and very interesting," he said. "Chinese history makes European history look like a Love-fest. It is extremely violent. But at the same time there are now 1.3 billion people living in relative harmony.

"It is very peaceful," McMahon said.

Every night the ten photographers would compare their experiences. "We all shot digital. And we showed our pictures. So then every day we built on the day before."

He said that there were four groups within the group of ten-by specialties-industrial, cultural, food and editorial.

"We talked about photography of course. Photography as art and I said my photography was story-telling."

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McMahon at the Summer Palace, Beijing.
Photo © David B. Seide/
Twenty-five years ago, after a brief meeting at Time Magazine in New York with Photo Editor John Durniak, who later became a mentor, Frank McMahon quit his staff job at a publishing company and launched a career in free-lance photography. Today, based in Chicago and Galena, McMahon operates both a successful photography business and Digimage, a Web page development company.

From high school on, his passion was photography.

Graduating from Chicago's Loyola University with an Anthropology degree McMahon interned at both the Chicago Sun Times newspaper and New York's Time-Life Color Lab during summer breaks. He then joined a major archeological dig in southern Illinois as staff photographer.

A 20-year-plus American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) member and former chapter co-president and board member, McMahon firmly believes in what the organization can do representing photographers' rights and influencing rates. Currently serving as the Web Master for the Chapter's Web page and Moderator for the National ASMP Internet Forum, McMahon's ASMP activities have channeled his career in an entirely new directions

McMahon's clients over the years have included Time, Inc., IBM, Rand McNally & Co., Stone Container Corp., and International Harvester.

He produced a 120-photo Web page chronicle of his work during the past three decades, titled: 21 Years of Photographic Postings: An Autobiography in Photography. It includes photos of "Presidents, Popes, and Princes," as well as several Time covers. The site, which is linked to the chapter Web page, follows McMahon's career from his black-and-white photojournalism in the '70s to the high-tech digital imaging that will bring photography into the next millennium.

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Mother and daughter with her brand new backpack before school. Select photographs from American Society of Media Photographer member Frank McMahon's trip to China.
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Silkworm cocoons are boiled to loosen the thread, filament, at the Haitong Silk Company. Silk filaments are reeled onto spools and then spun together to make yarn.
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Locals clamming on the Tidal Ware Park shore just before the tide came in.

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Ge Ping Juan, a manager at Shandong Xin Liang Oil (soy) Company, McMahon says represents the "new China".

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McMahon's web site,, has more photos from the ASMP visit to China.

McMahon will have his work from the China trip in an exhibit at the Fermilab Art Gallery, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in Batavia, Illinois from July 21 until Sept. 17. This is part of an exhibit called "McMahon Family Affair" and includes other members of his family.

Frank's Rizhao, China Web page
Frank's Home page
Frank's email
Other contact information