Workers, Yellow Mountain, China
In many ways visiting Huangshan (huang means yellow, an auspicious color in China, and shan is the Chinese word for mountain) in winter was a good move. Far less people at this time of year provided me with great access to the hotels, narrow paths and scenic locations on top of the mountain where I journey for three days.
While my main interest during my time on Yellow Mountain was landscape photography, I also made a few portraits along the way. There was nothing too serious or highly contemplated about these portraits. In fact they were quite candid in nature.
The first two images in this post feature some of the girls who work as receptionists, cleaners and the like at one of the hotels on the mountain. Making the pictures was a very straightforward process. We passed each other on a pathway and I'd simply stop and gesture with my camera that I'd like to make a photograph of them. After the initial surprise they seemed happy to have been asked. A few seconds later I was on my way with a smile and a few photos.
In each case I let the girls pose for the pics in the way they wanted. The results provide an interesting cultural record of the way these young Chinese women respond to the camera and the process of being photographed.
Unlike in western countries, where the 'V' sign stands for peace, throughout Asia 'V' is often used to signify victory. But there's nothing particularly sinister about it. In this case victory likely means, "I'm here, I made it and I'm happy to have done so".
The final photo features one of numerous porters who carry considerable weight over their shoulders along the steep, narrow and, at this time of year, icy pathways. As there are no roads up the mountain, this is the only form of transport for supplying both tourists and workers alike with food, drinks and the range of other so-called necessities required on the top of the mountain.
I found the going tough along some of the pathways. As I stayed in three hotels over as many nights, I had to carry a loaded pack with clothes, camera gear (including tripod) and other travel necessities. But it only takes a momentary meeting on a high, cold and ice-laden path with one of these folk to put things into perspective. It really was quite a profound and humbling experience.