In the Spring of 1980, Photographer Mike Emery was on board one of the first ever American passenger cruise ships sailing the China coast. No one on board had been to China, in fact, it was a seldom visited country for Westerners. Mike found himself arriving at a time of rapid change and excitement, with economic, political and cultural reforms sweeping the country.
With his bright clothes, fair hair and camera, Mike stood out in the streets of the cities he visited in China. Local people were intrigued, as Mike played the clown to gauge reactions. He’d pull faces, poke out his tongue, even lay in the middle of the street to get noticed. Sometimes he’d get crowds up to 50 people, wanting to speak English or just satisfy their curiosity about this strange westerner. As a result, Mike was able to capture the essence of the time, both in people’s faces and the unique urban landscapes they inhabited.
38 years later, and Mike has collected his finest images and memories into a uniquely beautiful hardcover coffee table book. China’s Children is not solely a collection of works featuring children, rather it captures a time over which a generation grew up. It captures everyday people in their lives with a freshness and reality rarely seen.
Colour photography from this time is extremely rare and images of this quality are hardly ever seen. Capturing a simpler time, the book features everyday life in Beijing and Shanghai. Perhaps you grew up in China in this time? This beautiful book offers a unique opportunity for people that may not have photos of their own from this time. Sharing these precious memories with family and friends is a great joy that appeals to every generation.
In sharing these photos Mike Emery hopes that people who lived through these times and their families will have a book they can treasure for many years to come. Anyone with a love of China, its culture and history will find great pleasure in the richness of these images and the story behind them. In many ways, this new book on China is an ideal gift that captures a moment in China’s history and presents it with the quality and respect that history deserves.