A day in the life



All images copyright Barnaby Jaco Skinner

China – A day in the life sets out to explore often under-exposed realities in the lives of the People’s Republic of China.

Shot over four years (2011 to 2015) in all four corners of the global powerhouse, the subject matter edges towards portraits of the under privileged and ethnic minority, those whom are not on traditional tourist routes, often taking inspiration from the ideology of China’s struggle through harder times and on to the global stage. Shot primarily in Beijing, Tianjin, Kashgar, Hotan, Shanghai, Shangri-La, Kunming, Hong Kong and Macau, China – A day in the life explores often sobering realities behind China’s global rise to fame, interacting with citizens whose ancestors helped galvanize a modern China, yet who rarely travel further than the borders of their home province.

Barnaby Jaco Skinner

Photographer & Artist

A Momentary Pause

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Yarkant – China

The livestock market here leaves nothing to the imagination, a time-tested script from source to sell perfectly executed on a daily basis. Stepping through from a blisteringly bright sun to the cool interior of the death-house, sweat-saturated men work on sheep both live and dead, praying, cutting, skinning and skilfully butchering every inch of every animal. Nothing is left except blood.

Boy With Bike

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Hotan – China

A young boy sits on a motorcycle, polishing the dusty fuel tank. His parents were selling small pieces of Jade they have fished out of the White Jade River, not interested in me or my camera. Hotan is a small desert town in western China and is quite the attraction for Chinese domestic tourism.

The Night Market

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Kashgar – China

As dusk falls over this forgotten western outpost, a thriving night market erupts for a raucous entanglement of fat, dust, and sweat pitched against such an inescapable medley of localized tongue that it’s enough to make one wished they had studied the local dialect a little harder.

Vulcan, the king of black gold

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Kashgar – China

With one perfect blow he strikes the black gold with a hard and experienced nonchalance. Straight down the seam a crack erupts, and with a silent scream shatters into a million dark shards.

End of the Line

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Yarkant – China

Sheep’s heads are cut from their horns to provide materials for local tradesmen. horns become dagger handles, skulls for broth, entrails laid out and picked through for who-knows-what.

Early One Morning

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Tianjin – China

Forty five degrees and it’s only 7am, humidity clocks almost 100 percent. Walking the outskirts of Tianjin from the ring road towards Youyi Nan Lu, one catches glimpses of country life coexisting with the metropolitan throng of China’s latest megalopolis. Waiting for a bus into the city center, a teenage boy wearing hard-earned cooks overalls sits quietly catching a snooze in the early morning heat, occasionally sipping from a bottle of iced-tea.

The Construction Trail

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Yunnan highways – China

The construction boom continues at full pelt across the continent, with Kunming and it’s surrounding provinces being no different. The capital of Yunnan, Kunming is a vast concrete jungle peppered with the occasional canal, pet market and tourist cafe. But step outside the city and you’ll find a landscape worthy of the title Shangri-La. The cement business is booming along the Yellow river, with sand and clay mining dotted along the banks as you travel through the lush green countryside, and with new UNESCO heritage sites popping up at an unprecedented rate, there is high demand for this cheap building material all over southern China.

Belle and Sebastian

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Pamir mountain pass – China

A young girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, sits on the side of the only single track road passing through this section of the Pamir moutnain range. Hand washing a dusty red dress, her best friend watches with great interest, possibly hoping for a snack. As heavy plant trucks occasionally stampede the edge of this dusty mountain pass, the friends converse together in sign-langauge, broken manadarin, and the occasional bark.

The Cook

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Beijing – China

Behind Bars

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Kunming – China

Rice Fields

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Yunnan highlands – China

Ambling steadily, laden with a day’s work she steps through rice paddies, over irrigation channels churning with mud-brown liquid, head down and focused. Her covered eyes offer no secrets, glazed over with the reticence of another day in the field.

Another Day

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Hotan – China

The Collector

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Town limits, somewhere in Yunnan – China

Reservoir Dogs

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Yarkant – China

Dawn brings a short bumpy ride to the Sunday cattle market, pulling in the local farmers and domestic tourists alike, where mutton adorns every menu, sweet, gritty teas spill from over-filled tea-pots and long-deceased cattle rock gently in a calm breeze, strung-up on stall corners, slowly stripped of their meat until only their bare bleached bones remain.

Shifting Sand

Nikon D4 / Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 / Kashgar – China

Two girls help shift sand at one of the many building sites in Kashgar. Using nothing but their bare hands they shovel the pale grey material in to an over-worked mixer whose concrete fuels the rapid expansion of western china.

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