Monday, May. 11, 2009

Forbidden City

Irish photographer Rian Dundon has lived in China for over three years. To plumb the depths of its ancient capital, he recommends patience and the willingness to expend a great deal of shoe leather.

Forbidden City, Garden

Leave yourself a full day for the Forbidden City, he says. "It's a truly massive place, a labyrinth of old neighborhoods and grand, open courtyards. Let yourself get lost in the old streets and alleyways where people actually used to live and work."

The Great Wall, Badaling Section

"I chose the Badaling Section for it grandness," Dundon says. "Its one of the best restored and most visited portions, so it is often crowded, and the views of the wall there, clinging to the steepest peaks and snaking across the horizon, are the best."

The Great Wall, Break Point

Visitors rest at picnic benches during the hike to the top of the Wall.

The Great Wall

During Dundon's climb back down, this group stopped to watch the sunset.

Beijing Police Museum

During the middle of the day, when the harsh sunlight makes photography outdoors difficult, Dundon recommends a visit to one of the city's many museums. There are not a lot of restrictions about photography, and some of the exhibits are quite surreal.

Drum Tower

Once used to help residents follow the time, the Drum Tower and its sister, the Bell Tower, rise from a maze of hutongs and old courtyard residences. "I shot from the street with public buses passing through the frame," Dundon says, "in order to show how Beijingers go about their lives in the midst of such history. This connection to the past is a constant in Beijing."

Underground Passageway

"A storm rolled in as I was shooting The National Theater one afternoon. The light of day was almost gone, and people started to run for cover. It was one of those moments that make photographers feel all fuzzy."

Yu Gong Yi Shan Nightclub

A DJ works his turntables at a free monthly hip-hop party and open mic in Beijing's Dongcheng District. "I have rarely had problems photographing in China," Dundon says. "It's just a matter of how you approach it. There is a great photographic tradition here and people respect the art and craft of picture-taking."