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Chinese photographer determined to be guardian of environment

2018/10/21 22:00:57

CNA file photo

Shanghai, Oct. 21 (CNA) The thought of turning his lens away from pollution never occurs to an award-winning Chinese photographer, not even when he is beaten up, arrested or receives threatening phone calls, for he believes bringing to light the problems with his camera will make a difference for the environment.

"When taking photos, you should take on subjects that will make an impact on society," Lu Guang (盧廣), the 2009 winner of the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his documentary project "Pollution in China," said at an Oct. 18 forum in Shanghai.

In his lecture, the 57-year-old photographer, who began to document China's environmental pollution in 1998, shared his experiences of how he managed to gain access to sources of industrial pollution at heavily guarded factories to capture images that the management of the factories would not show him.

Most of the time, Lu said, he had just 10 seconds to take out his camera, take a photo and put it away without being noticed by the factory owner.

Lu said he would spend time befriending factory workers and bosses and building their trust so that they would show him around the factory.

His duplicity did not always work, however, and Lu said he has been caught photographing industrial pollution and has been assaulted by people associated with the factories or apprehended by the police. His family also pleaded with him not to continue the work because they had received threatening calls, he added.

Unfazed by the threats, even those to his family, Lu said he has continued to stay motivated because he has witnessed the suffering caused by industrial pollution to grassroots villagers.

The purpose of documenting the environmental disasters is to get the images published in media outlets to press the central government to resolve the problems, Lu said.

"If they can't receive media coverage in China, I hope to try to gain them exposure in international media outlets," he said.

(By Chang Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan)