I could have done more.
There was just so much that I didn’t do. I knew the story, I knew what was happening, but I didn’t get it all.
I got enough to make something of my time there — enough to launch a career — but I left a lot on the table.
I was in China during the golden era of the country’s modern rise: 2005-2007 and 2012-2015. This was a time when not many people outside of China — or inside it for that matter — really knew much of what was going on. The traveling writer, the itinerant videographer was needed. For the first time I found what I was doing to be needed.
I’m a chronicler. I document the human experience vs. time. I focus on contrasts and transitions — my sweet spot is in the places where the ancient and modern fit together within a single frame.
China was my Shangri-la — and I’m not talking about Zhongdian. To find what I was looking for all I had to do was go outside.
I documented a decent swath of these transitions but not nearly enough. I’d like to go back and continue my work but I know that it wouldn’t be possible. You can do now what I did then. My methods were those of a traveler — I was raw and brash. If I wanted to find out about something I walked into the middle of it and said, “Yo, what’s up.” I’m not sure if I could do that in the current context of the country and my current position as a contributor to big international media.
I’m not sure if they would even let me back in.