Peking in Thomas Child’s Lens – A Study on the Early Photographs of China

Keynote Speaker: Xu Jia’ning

Time: November 26th (Sunday) 2017, 2pm-4pm
Location: OCAT Institute


For Registration: This is a complimentary event. Please text “1126 + your name + phone number” to OCAT Institute WeChat account for register. Your register is automatically confirmed as your text is sent.


Thomas Child (1841-1898), a British photographer, came to Beijing/Peking in 1870 as an engineer for the Customs of Qing Empire. He was passionate about science and photography, and since his job in Peking mainly consisted of simple tasks, he had the opportunity to explore the city and its surrounding areas in his leisure time. He fell in love with this historical city almost instantly and started taking photos to record the things he wanted to capture. The predominant technique of producing photographs in this time period was called the “collodion process (wet plate processing)”, which was extremely complicated and required the photographers to be proficient in optics and chemistry. Nevertheless, Child took plenty of photographs, and he even expanded this hobby into a successful business. His works were considered of top-level at the time in terms of composition, light use, and the quality of printing.


The purpose of this event is to present the cityscape and the people of the 19th-century Peking through Thomas Child’s lens and the research on his works in Peking from 1870 to 1899, thereby examining the style and significance of these photographs. Meanwhile, this talk will also touch on the topics such as the spread of photography in China and the development of photography technology.


About the Speaker

Xu Jia’ning (徐家宁) is a photography and video historian, dedicated to the research and collection of Chinese historical photos and videos. He was a keynote speaker of Thaumatrope (西洋镜), a documentary of the history of Chinese photography. His publications include 1900, An American Photographer’s Chinese Photos Diary, Life in Beiyang, Aerial Photo of China, 1945, and he also translated Photo of China and Chinese people.