The Long, Winding Journey of China’s Train-Riding Photographer

Wang Fuchun spent over 40 years capturing life on China’s railways. Now, the renowned photographer’s epic ride has come to an end.

Wang Fuchun, the award-winning photographer best known for his candid shots of Chinese people riding the train, has died at the age of 79, according to a statement released by the China Photographers Association March 13.

Born in the city of Suihua in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province in 1943, Wang rose from a blue-collar background to become one of the leading figures in Chinese photography, winning the prestigious Golden Statue Award for China Photography in 1996.

Throughout his long career, Wang published several photo series focusing on life in China’s frigid Northeast, including “Black Soil,” “Northeasterners,” and “Siberian Tigers.” But his most-acclaimed work was what he produced while riding China’s railways.

Wang’s links to the Chinese rail system date back to the 1960s, when he studied at a college run by the local railway bureau in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province. After graduating, he worked for the city’s railway workers’ union.

Wang found his vocation there. One day, his boss asked him to take some photos of a group of model workers at the union. The young man soon became obsessed with recording snippets of life on his Chinese-made Seagull camera.

For the next four decades, Wang would spend much of his time crossing the country by rail, snapping photos of his fellow passengers. He amassed so many rolls of film during this period, they filled his home and left him little room for any other possessions, Wang said in an interview published by China Photo Press in 2020. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.