25 Jun Transitions In Bloom | Film Photographs of China by Duran Levinson
Filmmaker Duran Levinson has recently returned from a month long trip to China where he created a series of film photographs, Transitions in Bloom.
The project, shot entirely on film, moves from Shanghai’s bizarre marriage market, into the streets and chaos of Hong Kong, through China’s gem Yangshuo and into the grittiness of Beijing’s night culture. “These photographs are an attempt to capture some of the feelings I felt and experiences I had while travelling this amazing country,” says Duran.
His experience of the Chinese people was as generous and humble. “It really shocked me to discover how friendly and far they are willing to go to help a Westerner for nothing in return. The concepts of Taoism and Guanxi really influenced me to dig deeper into the Chinese culture and to pay attention to what’s really happening in modern day China,” Duran explains. “For a South African, it’s crazy to go to a country where you never feel in danger – even when missioning through ‘dodgy looking’ areas alone in the early hours of the morning.”
When Duran was a young cinematographer, he was trained to shoot on film – before digital cameras began to exceed the dynamic range of film cameras. “Shooting film is challenging and requires more pre-visualisation and understanding of light. Allowing yourself only one exposure of film to capture a moment before moving on is when you start pushing yourself and as a result, developing your creativity.”
Specifically, the project was shot on Fujifilm 400 ISO and Ilford Delta 400 and 3200 ISO film. “I decided to shoot mainly on black and white, as I wanted to capture some of the grittiness and realness of Chinese street culture,” Duran tells us. “Shooting 3200 ISO film was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed being by myself on my skateboard in the middle of China, looking for things that interested me. I’m also a geek for a beautiful grain structure. In the end, there’s nothing more rewarding than getting your photos back from the lab and seeing the result of your work weeks after taking them.”