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Portraits of change

By Yang Guang (China Daily)

09:10, May 23, 2012

An album of yearly studio portraits of a man from 1907-68 has aroused the curiosity of a historical photo collector. Yang Guang finds out more in Beijing.

An ardent historical photo collector has published the portraits of a man who had his picture taken every year from 1907-68, some of China's most important years. TV producer Tong Bingxue, 43, says the man in the photo album had his portrait taken by photo studios during the years that saw the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Republic of China (1912-49), the turbulence of wars, the founding of the People's Republic of China and the early days of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

"The series of photos have recorded the changes of times and formed an archive about his life," Tong says. "He didn't have a choice about the era he would encounter, but he chose to respect life and tried his best to retain the dignity of a man."

Tong has published the album, A Life in Portraits, under Foreign Languages Press. The book also chronicles the life of the man in the album and the stories of Tong's search for him.

Tong started collecting and studying the country's historical photos in 2000 and created a website in 2005 to publicize his interest.

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