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To capture spirit as well as great faces in pairs

(China Daily)

13:23, March 18, 2013

A Belgian man and a Nanjing woman share a load.(China Daily)

Steve Zhao's ongoing photography exhibition shows how ordinary folks are pretty much the same everywhere. Mike Peters takes a second look.

My first look at People to People, Steve Zhao's ongoing photo exhibition, made me pause. The image: A line of Chinese policemen coming toward me.

Yikes! I thought. What was he thinking?

But I quickly realized that Zhao was making a subtle point rather cleverly. He had paired an image of Chinese policemen walking the street with a similar image of German policemen on their beat in Munich. The faces are human, the job important. Why would another country's police officers seem more threatening than one's own?

"There are no captions on these pictures," Zhao says, catching up to walk our group through the 60 pairs of images. "I didn't want people to look at each picture quickly and then study the captions. I wanted them to look into the eyes of the people, and decide for themselves what the pictures mean."

While many photo exhibitions highlight cultural differences, Zhao's goal here is to show how ordinary folks are pretty much the same everywhere.

So a blue-clad group of Western monks assembled in front of oaken monastery doors mirrors a group of Chinese Buddhist monks gathering to study scriptures.

A grande dame in Berlin - chic in a painted straw boater with pheasant feathers - peers over schoolmarm glasses with a grin at an equally regal lady in the traditional garb of the Li people of Sanya.

Cultural puzzlements[Special]

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