The series Family Stuff began in 2003 with a commission from the magazine Chinese National Geography to photograph four families in three eastern provinces and Mongolia. Keen to take the project further, Qingjun Huang succeeded in persuading people who had never been photographed before to bring all their possessions out of their homes and pose with them. This led to contact with 35 families from very different regions and backgrounds. At the same time the shift from 120 mm film to an 8 x 10 view camera brought him closer not only to his subjects, but also to their personal belongings, and their relationship with the places they lived in.
Despite the initial misgivings of some of his subjects, his perseverance finally gained him acceptance and he now plans to return to see what changes have taken place over the last ten years. ‘Household objects’, he says, ‘give you a good sense of the real standard of living in China.’ Television looms very large. Possessions like these testify to China’s ongoing modernisation; and the willingness of these families to reveal their possessions to the camera demonstrates how fast society is changing in China.
[Qingjun Huang was born in 1971 in Daqing, in the Chinese province of Heilongjiang. He has been a member of the Chinese Photographers’ Association since 1999. ]