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Jennifer Zhou | all galleries >> Galleries >> Everybody Has a Story > Bearing Life's Burdens, Nanjing, China, 2004
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Bearing Life's Burdens, Nanjing, China, 2004

I made this picture in Nanjing, a Chinese city with a long and sad history. This woman, burdened with a child, was far away from me, and not only in terms of distance. She seems to be standing out there in a world of her own. A small and simple world, full of responsibilities and burdens. Her world offers her few choices. She looks at me, standing in my world, with curiosity and incomprehension. For her, life is just what it is. She does not think about a better life, because she does not know how.

Canon EOS 10D ,Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
1/200s f/4.0 at 200.0mm iso200 full exif

other sizes: small medium original auto
Donutrun17-May-2005 09:00
Very powerful image -- having not seen the sepia version, I can only say that this works wonderfully in B&W. Bravo.
Phil Douglis02-Oct-2004 04:48
Leo 28-Sep-2004 02:20
To my supprise, this B&W image works very well. I totally agree with Phil now for this image gives a "current" look and very photo journalistic.
Phil Douglis27-Sep-2004 16:11
You have changed the meaning of this image by converting to black and white from its former sepia tonality. It is much more journalistic in nature now. It seemed more historical in nature in sepia. It is not a matter of right or wrong, Jen, but rather what you want to say!
Ray :)28-Aug-2004 21:51
This is material that is good enough for a magazine. A fine piece of emotive photojournalism.
Leo 25-Aug-2004 09:25
I don't know much about the technical side of the picture, but when I first saw it, I liked it. It's my favourate in this gallery.
Phil Douglis16-Aug-2004 20:58
Marek has pointed out the technical, aesthetic, and expressive strengths of this picture quite effectively. They made me spend more time with this shot, and I agree with his analysis. I feel much of its strength is rooted in its fine detail, particularly facial detail. The mother seems to be agitated, but I can't read the baby's expression that well -- I don't know if it is crying or if that is a pacifier in its mouth. Detail carries meaning, Jen -- and the smallish sizing of this picture makes this detail too small for the casual viewer to easily see. I missed it the first time around myself. If you can possibly resize this shot so that pbase displays it much larger, at least 1,000 pixels across, that detail would jump right off the page at us, and this picture would be able to function as a story telling image much more effectively. Give it a try, and see! And while you are at it, you might also try re-sizing any other images that really depend on small detail to carry meaning, and see how they work as larger pictures as well.
Guest 16-Aug-2004 14:18
This is one of your best to date and the high technical standard makes it indistiguishable from a 'professional's' shot. The composition is a classic asymetrical triangle, with the main tension set up between the human figures and the drying clothes in the background on the right. The leaning post is actually the axis of this image and is the key to the story here: The woman is a 'human ox'; she is symbollically trapped in her existence by the fine, nearly invisible web of the clothes lines, and is struggling to break free. The dark twigs either side provide the clues of the invisible lines, but could also be the 'reins'. You can draw straight lines so that the backhround wall and the derelict structures form the base, whilst the woman and child are the apex, trying to pull away from the poverty, but unable to. The leaning post is the final immobiliser, perhaps held in place by a higher force. Its angle gives signs of a struggle already having taken place. By a juxtaposition the longer lens gives you, the woman's burden extends beyond the child she is carrying; it might as well be the pile of logs in the background (which she undoubtedly has also carried at some stage). The masterful part comes with your choice of aperture and the resulting depth of field -- it works beautifully with the contrast of the darker human shape to create the layering of the image. Finally, the wonderful detail leaps out with the expressions of the two characters; the woman's determined struggle and the child's sinking realisation of their fate. Two people lost in their own individual misery. Sadness is our prison.
Guest 07-Aug-2004 03:17
this is good, amazing textures and background... great tones and composition as well.

so nice!

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