Chicago Sun-Times, 2/17/08 (中文版 Chinese Version)
Rizhao, China: the view from Chicago
Excerpted from the Chicago Sunday Sun-Times article written by Dave Hoekstra

In October, the photographers -- Lee Balgemann, Dirk Fletcher, Eric Futran, Ron Gould, Marc Hauser, Karen Hirsch, Frank McMahon and David Seide -- spent a week in Rizhao, China, on the coast of the Yellow Sea, facing Korea and Japan in the distant east. They were chosen by Elie Berkman, past president of the American Society of Media Photographers and also part of the traveling group.

The project is called "Rizhao: In the Eyes of Foreign Photographers," and eventually will result in a book and photo exhibition.

"I wanted the Chicago ASMP chapter to reach an international level and raise the spirit among other members," says Berkman. "We need to get out of the rut. Photography is in trouble because of the Internet. People used to come to us [photographers], and now they don't."

"When I record a place, I don't run after the pictures, the pictures come to me," says Berkman, who was born in an Israeli kibbutz near the Jordan border. "Once I feel the harmony with the image, then I will take the image. You have to have the Gestalt of the culture, civilization and location you are seeing to understand the meaning of the photograph you are taking. That's when photography comes alive."

The China trip was Marc Hauser's first work since 2003. That year he broke his leg in five places when he and his assistant were thrown 40 feet into a concrete pool while shooting pictures on a television commercial.

Berkman and Hauser, who've known each other for 20 years, will return to China in March. "Marc is a master of his craft," Berkman says. "He knows how to bring the personality out of someone, which is very difficult. He was so enthusiastic in China and tried to defy his limitations."

The trip was a struggle for Hauser, but it was artistically rewarding. "It was more reportage than what I usually do, because I usually do studio stuff," he says. "It was a great project for me. Plus, it was the first time I used a digital camera."

This is the only divide between Berkman and Hauser. Berkman does not shoot digital. He recently was given a digital camera as a gift, but it remains shuttered it its box. "Others become a slave to technogy, where I am still looking for the artistic connection," says Berkman, whose eye for harmony has connected Chicago with China.

During last fall's journey to Rizhao, China, Chicago architectural photographer David B. Seide spent the trip making pictures of the city's industrial neighborhoods. "Most of us in the group had an area of specialization," explains Seide, Chicago chapter president of ASMP. "Mine was architecture. Eric [Futran] specialized in food, others specialized in people and lifestyle. We paired up in groups of two to four and [government] representatives gave us things they wanted us to cover." It was a different approach for Seide. "Here I work directly with clients," he says. "There, it was a little more vague. They wanted to see how we looked at things from a Western standpoint. We were given a fair amount of freedom. The sheer scale of things there is amazing."

In the spring, the project organizer, Elie Berkman, will select another 20 photographers to record more provinces. That project will have corporate sponsorship.

The full article can be seen in the Sun-Times paid archive.

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