Beyond John Thomson: Earlier Photographic Studios in China

Tong Bingxue, Author and Private Collector, Beijing

Except for the foreign pioneers of photography in China like John Thomson, the main body of earlier Chinese photography is actually found in the numerous photographic studios across China. The studios have produced the largest quantity of China’s earlier images, especially the portraiture of Chinese, and this kind of image is an initiative self-viewing by local people, showing how Chinese adapted photography, and grafted it onto Chinese artistic expression. These images are a real reflection of the Chinese cultural connotation and aesthetic complex. Based on a newly published monograph History of Photographic Studios in China, the author and collector Tong Bingxue (Tony Tong) will give an overall glimpse on how the photographic studios developed step by step in China and how its unique characteristic were formed. 

About the Presenter

Chinese media professional Tong Bingxue began collecting historical photographs of China in 2001, with the purchase of a Shanxi image from a flea market in Beijing. Now a well-known collector, Bingxue specializes in rare photographs taken by studios in China between the mid-nineteenth century to the early years of the Republic of China (1912-1949).

China’s Image at the World Expos (Shanghai Academy of Social Science Press, 2009); Medals of the World Expos (1851-1958) (Shanghai Academy of Social Science Press, 2009); Six Decades of a Chinese Life in Photographs (Shanghai Academy of Social Science Press, 2010); A Life in Portraits (China Foreign Language Press, 2012); The Grand Master of Ceremonies of Beiyang Government (China Renmin University Press, 2012); A Journey to Old Beijing (China Renmin University Press, 2012); History of Photographic Studios in China (China Photographic Publishing House, 2015).