Happy New Year!
Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!
Ten years ago I went to Shanghai to take photographs of Chinese New Year. I loved being in Shanghai (though I found its sheer size quite alarming) and the atmosphere of people celebrating with their families. There were shops full of colourful decorations, there were beautiful lanterns all over the place, and I noticed that the default colour for a winter coat is red, not black as it is in Britain.
Some of the photos I took then are already on the Travel page of this website, so I won't repeat them here. On Chinese New Year's Day itself, I went out to the Longhua Temple and spent the day taking photos of the celebrations. People were lighting incense, burning paper money, saying prayers and so on. As the day wore on the piles of ash from bundles of burnt incense grew higher and higher.
Normally I'm very reticent about photographing people that I can't talk to about it, but people seemed to be very relaxed about my presence and sometimes sign language and smiling a lot was enough to get a portrait taken.
I am usually a person who works hard but with regular breaks for snacks and meals: I need to be fed and watered regularly! But that day I started taking photos at about 11am, after having taken 2 buses to get there. The first time I stopped and thought to myself, 'I need a drink and some food,' was about 5pm. I have never worked with such obliviousness to the passage of time.
Anna Watson: photographer, parent, juggler