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Handless Chinese photographer tells stories of disabled
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14:09, September 09, 2008

He is handless. He is also a photographer.

Zheng Longhua, 49, manages a camera with his wrist bones. The man from Lin'an, Zhejiang Province, who lost his hands in an accident as an infant, has been in the profession for about three decades.

Zheng has presented a photo essay on 100 disabled personalities. The five-day exhibition at the National Library of China ended on Sept. 8 and Zheng plans to hold exhibitions in other cities to coincide with the Paralympics.

The essay features successful people who lost their legs or hands, or who have severe deformities. It took Zheng three years to finish the work.

"I chose to portray the 'sunny side' of the disabled instead of articulating their physical deformity, though the latter is more sensational," said Zheng. "I want my work to be more encouraging."

He is familiar with each person's story.

Tan Chuanhua is well-known as Tan Mujiang (carpenter) for the wooden combs he produces, but his disability is less well-known. He lost his right hand when trying to fish with explosives at age 18.

He suffered hardship and discrimination, in Zheng's words, as "a man without a hand who could not take care of himself, let alone others". He began producing wooden combs at age 31. Two decades later, his business produces 42 million wooden combs annually, with about 500 chain stores and 1,700 employees, of whom about 300 are disabled.

"Those who believe in miracles can create miracles. I was moved and inspired by them," Zheng said of his subjects.

Yang Hezheng is another individual featured in the photo essay. The 36-year-old was left unable to walk steadily after a childhood ailment, but he has been planting trees on a barren hill he rented since 1998.

He raised the money by running an art workshop in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.

"Although people laughed at me, saying 'you can't even walk steadily on level ground, let alone climb hills', I continue to care for nature. I believe in myself.

"When Zheng came to photograph me, I was shocked. Any photographer has difficulty in catching a fleeting image, let alone a man without hands. I understand the hardship as I'm suffering the same."

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