By Carlos Barria
When I was a kid in the south of Argentina, we used to say that if you dig a very deep hole to the other side of the earth, you will end up in China. In my case, China was literally on the other side of the planet; about as far from Patagonia as you can get. Thirty years later, I made it here. I didn’t come through a tunnel, but on a plane that flew over the North Pole.
I moved to China one year ago in the position of staff photographer in Shanghai, China’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city. The challenge was enormous: a foreign culture, and a very foreign language.
I spent my first couple of days walking around the city, just wandering; something I hadn’t done in a long time. Before coming to China I lived in Miami, where I didn’t have much of an urban experience, unless you count sitting in traffic for long periods of time.
But in Shanghai, I didn’t need a car. The city’s public transportation system is one of the best in China, and that give me the opportunity to go back to something I love; street photography. I started to really enjoy the urban scenery. I walked around with just one camera and one lens, taking it all in, like a little kid alone in a candy store.
I had a preconceived notion of China as a country of factories and farms. I hadn’t thought much about the cities. But walking through the streets of Shanghai, I began to familiarize myself with a more modern society, one characterized by a large, growing and unstoppable middle class.