17:31, August 28, 2008
In the case of Beijing, one of the most important stewards of its photographic legacy is the 85-year-old Dabei Photo Studio, the oldest photo studio in Beijing and one of Beijing's important Time Honoured Brands (laozihao).
The photo studio has been a part of the lives of the people of Beijing since 1921, when it opened in the Qianmen area, south of Tian'anmen Square. It has recorded the city's transformation from an inward-looking walled city to a dynamic international metropolis that will host the 2008 Olympic Games. The photographers of the Dabei Photo Studio have captured this transition in the lives and dress of the people of Beijing, photographing the high and low, from officials to people on the street, from the Forbidden City and Zhongnanhai (the centre of China's government) to its humble hutong and siheyuan. And, as a laozihao it has changed with the times, too.