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Life of Africans in South China revealed in photos

Reporter: Hendrik Sybrandy 丨 CCTV.com

11-02-2016 06:23 BJT

What happens when an American photographer and two Chinese portrait photographers combine their talents over a six-year period. You get an award-winning book called Little North Road which focuses on African immigrants standing on a pedestrian bridge in China.

These are some of the faces of Little North Road.

"These photographs were documents made by Chinese migrants of other migrants coming into China," said Daniel Traub, author of "Little North Road".

They're the faces of migrant workers from Africa living in Guangzhou, where many had come to buy goods to resell back home.

"I came across this neighborhood that's known as Xiaobeilu or Little North Road," said Daniel Traub.

New York-based photographer Daniel Traub was already fascinated by China's connection to Africa when he discovered this pedestrian bridge.

"It almost serves as kind of town square," said Daniel Traub.

He met two Chinese portrait photographers who were selling souvenir photos.

"I sort of sensed that actually their photographs are more interesting than mine. They are more poignant and more complex. I sort of slowly came to the realization that their photographs needed to be the center of the book," said Daniel Traub.

Traub's photos would illustrate the backdrop and provide a frame.

The book, called "Little North Road," is the product of 25,000 digital photos taken over six years distilled down to just 40 from each portrait photographer.

Traub, who lived in China for nine years and whose mother is Chinese, spoke about the project while recently visiting Colorado. Far more than a collection of images, he says these photos show the bridge as symbolic gateway into China, the African migrant workers in a way directing the photographers, and both trying to make a living.

"For me, what's interesting is the photography aspect connecting up with the human aspect and putting that in a little package and saying here, enjoy the mystery and wonder of life. Look at these fabulous creatures, look at how beautiful they are, you know, how varied they are," said Alex Sweetman, Prof. of Photographer from Univ. of Colorado Boulder.

It's a moment in time that may have passed. Today, commerce on the bridge is a fraction of what it once was. Far fewer Africans live in Guangzhou these days.

"I don't have a message particularly. It's more that this fascinated me and hopefully it does other people," said Daniel Traub.

Dignity, diversity and human struggle it's all revealed in these pages, in these snapshots of history.

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