Camera slung across her back, self-taught photographer Qiang Jing has criss-crossed Gansu, Chongqing, Beijing, and Sichuan, eventually ending up in Yunnan, a province of captivating beauty in southern China. In her photos, she drains the color from China’s street scenes, leaving only a desolate black and white. Even the country’s panoramic landscapes look less magnificent through her lens.
Qiang Jing was born in Gansu province and now lives in Kunming, a city she didn’t choose at random: “I like the dazzling sun here, it takes me back to my childhood. Kunming has a brilliant blue sky and soft, billowy clouds. The city moves at an unhurried pace, and locals are the salt of the earth—simple, honest people.”
But the year-round warmth hasn’t brightened her shots. Instead, she captures scenes of ruins and debris that seem caught amid the constant changes of the world, steeped in both life’s bitterness and its joy. Their immense silence draws you in, speaking more eloquently than any words.
“I take my camera and wander aimlessly through the streets, snapping photos of things that resonate with my current mood.” Her specialty, street photography, relies on individual emotions, because she doesn’t just document outdoor scenes from an objective angle. It’s more personal.
“Photography, for me, is an expression of inner feelings, an emotional outlet, as well as a form of therapy. What I shoot is just my inner state, and that’s why I enjoy taking pictures. On streets full of uncertainty and conflict, I find a peace, a unity with myself.”
Ever since she first began taking pictures, Qiang has made a habit of going out shooting on a semi-regular basis. She uses black and white so no colors will interfere with her vision—it’s the format that best expresses her feelings of solitude.
Set against the vastness of the world, people are insignificant specks, and her photos convey this sharp sense of loneliness and isolation. “I hold my breath and press the button to open the shutter: for me, photography is a sort of ritual. It’s like I’m mourning the passing of an instant, of everything that’s vanished around me, a reality that actually existed and will never exist again.”
“Behind my photos, there’s a story about the loneliness of growing up, about love and hate, and ultimately about letting go,” she says. She puts all her pent-up feelings into her photography and creates a series of images that brim with emotion.
The darkness in Qiang’s pictures coexists with the light: neither is possible without the other. “Kunming is gradually having an effect on me,” she says. “Just as plants grow toward the sun, maybe I can eventually break free from my former melancholy and give voice to a tougher, stronger version of myself.” Now that she’s mastered darkness and light, her journey as a photographer goes on.
但事实上，强婧照片里的黑暗，与光亮永远都是并存的，两者是缺少了彼此即不成立的存在。她说 “昆明这座城市，正慢慢影响着我。仿佛植物会向阳生长一样，渐渐地，也许我能从最初的忧郁中挣脱出来，表达一个更有韧性、更坚强的自己。” 掌握了光和暗，她的摄影之旅将继续下去。