Joseph Chun Tu's work covers portraiture, architecture and street photography with an overarching theme of the ebb and flow of modern day societal changes. Not only an extremely talented photographer, but also a much coveted one winning competitions such as the 2009 Lee History and a finalist of the 2009 Leica Oscar Banach International Photography Contest.
We caught up with Joseph shortly after he exhibited his latest work, 'Hangzhou Family' (杭州人家） which was visited and critiqued by world famous magnum photographer, Bruno Barbey. In his newest work, Joseph explores the ever-more relevant topic of internationalization of second-tier cities in China and how it is influencing society.
Under the Wall: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live and where are you from? How long have you been shooting photos for?
Joseph Tu: I live and am now based out of Hangzhou. I've been shooting photography for over 12 years now.
UTW: What motivated you to get started in photography?
JT: I first was introduced to photography when thumbing through family photo albums as a child. I thought those pictures were something magical with the ability to turn time into space.
UTW: How would you describe yourself and your personality? How does your personality affect the way you take photos?
JT: I'm a bit of homebody, quite introverted. My camera is my passport. Photography is my identity. My style is still not concrete, I'm still searching for it.
UTW: For those who haven’t see your photos before, how would you describe your photography style?
JT: A social documentary style of photography.
UTW: Let’s talk about your newest project where you shot a series on foreigners living in China. Can you give us a background on it and where did the inspiration come from?
JT: I've been living in Hangzhou for over 30 years now. I've witnessed this city's development and expats integrating into the city. Now there's even more foreigners (living in this city). It makes me think of the lyrics John Lennon's song, 'Imagine'. I can really identify with him. I almost feel like I knew him. I want to convey these feelings through my pictures.
UTW: What is it that you find interesting in cultural differences? In particular, cultural difference with other countries and China?
JT: Cultural differences and globalization exist. More often than not its about integrating with local cultures that is important. For example everything from food to language. With China and the rest of the world their exists a lot of (cultural) differences. Through my photography I aim to explore and capture these similarities and differences. This is a point of interest.
UTW: What camera’s do you shoot?
JT: EOS 5D
UTW: Let's talk a little bit more about your photography and inspirations. Where (or who) do you get your creative inspiration from?