History and Culture

Life in a hutong through the eyes of a filmmaker

2017-06-19 08:40:00 (Beijing Time)         China Daily


Tan Siok Siok's black-and-white photos reveal a touching and lively side of daily lives in Beijing's hutong area. Photos provided to China Daily

A foreign documentary filmmaker unveils her book of photos of a Beijing alley-all taken by cellphone. 

Over the past five years, Tan Siok Siok has been recording the lives of people in a Beijing hutong (alley) on her cellphone and sharing the photos on social media.

In her images from the old-style alleyways, chairs and bicycles, sleepy people and those with earmuffs are commonly seen.

In May, the documentary filmmaker from Singapore, who now runs a video company in Beijing, released her book People in Beijing that has photos taken by her only on her phone. It records the daily lives of the residents of a hutong area and, in particular, sheds light on details that are common but often ignored by others.

"Each of my photos is an independent story in Beijing. You can say it's a story of Beijing but also a story of the world," says Tan, 45.

She says that the expressions on people's faces in her pictures-anxiety, dismay and happiness-can be found among the residents of any city.

Tan used a smartphone to take the photos so she could quickly share them online.

Tan Siok Siok, Singaporean filmmaker