Thu, 05 Oct 2023

French photographer captures real China in Hainan

03 Jun 2023, 13:18 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

HAIKOU, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Capturing glimpses of daily life in Hainan, the tropical island province in south China, French photographer Jeremy Grinan brings to life scenes of food stalls lining the old streets, coconut groves, and breathtaking sunsets in the parks.

Wearing a brownish-yellow duckbill cap, a blue and white vertical striped shirt, dark blue jeans, and high-top brown Martin boots, Grinan himself is seen in casual yet elegant attire in his role as both a photographer and videographer.

Grinan's first encounter with the country took place over a decade ago when he decided to quit his stable job in France and ventured to Hong Kong. Following an invitation from a friend, he visited Hainan for a vacation, only to be captivated by the charming tropical scenery that compelled him to stay.

Initially exploring various occupations, such as teaching and engineering, Grinan stumbled upon photography by chance and ultimately fell in love with it. Over the years, he has witnessed great changes in China, particularly in Hainan.

"I wish I had started capturing images earlier because Haikou has undergone tremendous changes in the past 13 years," he said. "Now I am working hard to take pictures because things change so quickly in Hainan. Like in five years, maybe something we used to see will just disappear."

Indeed, Hainan has undergone significant changes in recent years, especially since China released a master plan in June 2020 to build the whole of Hainan Island into a globally influential and high-level free trade port by the middle of the century.

Grinan regarded the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port as "a big and long-term thing" and he believed "it's a kind of nice opportunity for Hainan. A lot of efforts are put into it," and it was "something to prepare for the next part of (Hainan's) growth," Grinan added.

Having lived in Hainan for years, Grinan thought Hainan was a "beautiful," "convenient" and "safe" place. He then decided to also film videos with his in-person appearance that show real life in China, just to provide foreigners with an authentic portrayal of the country.

"I went in the streets and just shot normal things, maybe things that Chinese people don't see as interesting, but they are special for foreigners," he said, adding that people can go everywhere, take a rest and go out having fun, like elsewhere in the world, which contradicts the stereotypes which some foreigners believe in.

Besides shooting, Grinan likes to play guitar with friends, write scripts to prepare for filming, and travel extensively to learn about customs and cultures across China.

"It's maybe the best time to be in China now. The economy is great, and everyone is doing better," he said.

"I don't have reason to leave now. Life is cool. I have projects. I have a lot of friends here," Grinan said.

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