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Travel photographer Tom Carter, author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, will be meeting with fans at the Suzhou Bookworm in Jiangsu province, China, to sign his new 600-page book of photography and speak about his 2-year backpacking adventure across the 33 provinces of China.

Saturday May 29, 2010 from 7:00pm - 9:00pm
The Bookworm Suzhou
Gunxiufang 77, Shiquan Road
Suzhou, Jiangsu
China

www.suzhoubookworm.com/happeni…
As Thomas Carter's new photobook CHINA: Portrait of a People makes its debut as the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author, literati and the press are unable to hold back their acclaim. Following are excerpts from the praise CHINA: Portrait of a People continues to receive from readers and media reviewers:


"The collection of 800 photos paints a beautiful, comprehensive portrait of China and its people in a way that words never could." - the Beijinger
www.blacksmithbooks.com/TheBei…

"China: Portrait of a People is a snapshot of an entire country in a time of great change; a truthful and touching portrayal of the Chinese people in all their variety, charm and earthiness. As such, even if it does not turn out a best-seller, it will have lasting value as a social document. This isn't a coffee table book of the Great Wall or the quintessentially Chinese landscapes of Guilin. It isn't a travel book either, although it may well inspire many to come see China for themselves." - China.Org
www.china.org.cn/culture/2008-…

"Instead of similar photo books, China: Portrait of a People (published by Blacksmith Books, 635 pages, 280 yuan) is a more portable volume. Rather than focus on geographic, landscape or sight-seeing photos, Carter focuses on the distinct features and lifestyles that define the nation’s 56 ethnic groups collected in 33 provinces." - Beijing Today
bjtoday.ynet.com/article.jsp?o…

"CHINA: Portrait of a People is not to be dismissed as another light-hearted snapshot collection. But neither is it heavy socio-political commentary. Photojournalist-cum-travel writer Tom Carter has successfully struck a fine balance between the two, dividing the 600-plus pages of annotated photography into 33 chapters, a document of the two years he spent travelling in different Chinese provinces." - HK Magazine
www.blacksmithbooks.com/CPP_HK…

"Tom Carter gets around. Thirty three provinces, 56 ethnic cultures, 10,000 portraits. The 35-year-old American spent two years on the road photographing people from every nook and cranny in China for his ambitious 640-page coffee-table book, CHINA: Portrait of a People. His stated mission: To dispel the stereotype of the Chinese as a homogeneous single nationality." - Urbanatomy Shanghai
shanghai.urbanatomy.com/shangh…

"For those who read more in a twinkling eye or a lined brow than in a slate roof, (CHINA: Portrait of a People) is a revelation, providing a more honest picture of this turbulent land than a rack of China travel books pre-approved by the Ministry of Information." - China Expat
www.chinaexpat.com/blog/ernie/…

"Tom gives us an incredible insight to the people of China, from poor to wealthy, young to old. You can see he gets into their culture and delivers a fabulous insider view, capturing emotions through the lens. Each region has a selection of Tom's photos with brief, but informative captions. It's not a travel guide or a photography technique guide but it will keep you enthralled for hours at a time." - ePhotozine
www.ephotozine.com/learn/bookr…

"Travel photos taken by a stranger seldom fascinate. But 800 color images captured by Tom Carter as he spent two years on the road, traveling 56,000 kilometers through all of China's 33 provinces, make a dramatic exception... Carter's weighty book takes an effort to carry home from a store. But anyone interested in China should love owning it." - Cairns Media Magazine
www.cairnsmedia.com/Archives%2…

Doing business in China is all about getting to know the Chinese people and their culture. Precisely what this stunning book by Tom Carter has to offer. Eye opener!" - China Success Stories
www.chinasuccessstories.com/20…

"The images veer between the light-hearted (laughing children playing on a sand dune in Gansu), titillating (a pair of female KTV hostesses in Shandong lean in for a kiss), appalling (a mentally ill girl lies in the middle of the road as cars just pass her by), and thought provoking (the worn and sunburned face of a destitute old Tibetan lady). But there is a constant - the peering visages of all ethnicities, of all China. Through Carter's journey of self-discovery, we end up discovering a little more about ourselves - and a land so vast, so disparate, that 638 pages of photos barely manage to scratch the surface. Still, Portrait of a People is a very good place to start peeling back the layers." - Time Out
www.timeout.com.hk/books/featu…

"'Tom Carter is an extraordinary photographer whose powerful work captures the heart and soul of the Chinese people." - Anchee Min, author of Red Azalea and Empress Orchid

"Tom Carter's photo book is an honest and objective record of the Chinese and our way of life- his camera leads us through 33 wide-sweeping scenes of the real and the surreal." - Mian Mian, author of Candy

"It takes a great boldness of spirit to set out to capture the essence of so diverse a people as the Chinese in a single volume of photography. The thrill is to discover that Tom Carter has achieved just that." - Asia Literary Review

"As photojournalist Tom Carter discovered on his journey across China, to know the true spirit and culture of a place, you must look into the faces of its people." - MiNDFOOD magazine

"Tom Carter is a guerrilla hit-and-run photojournalist with a camera instead of a grenade launcher. To take the up-close and personal pictures in Portrait of a People, Carter risked jail; almost froze on the way to Tibet; faced exhaustion and hunger; was beaten by drunks; plagued by viral infections; and risked being shot by North Korean border guards. The hundreds of photos in Portrait are priceless. I doubt if there will ever be another book about China like this one." - Lloyd Lofthouse, author of My Splendid Concubine
www.authorsden.com/visit/viewa…

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CHINA: Portrait of a People, by Tom Carter
Genre: Travel / Photography / Art / China
ISBN: 9-789889-979942
Size: 15cm x 15cm, soft cover, 640 pages, 800 full color images, with maps of each province
Published: Summer 2008 by Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong, in association with Haven Books

www.tomcarter.org
www.blacksmithbooks.com/978988…
www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hXtCr…
CHINA PHOTO BOOK BUILDS BRIDGE OF HEALING
Tom Carter’s CHINA: Portrait of a People captures diversity of 33 Chinese provinces

www.blacksmithbooks.com/978988…

Beijing, China – As the 2008 Summer Olympics commence, all eyes are on China. But far from being the celebration envisaged by Chinese leaders, the first six months of 2008 have seen unrest in Tibet, worldwide protests against the Olympic torch and the devastating earthquake in Sichuan.

This attention has raised new curiosity: Who are the Chinese? How do they live, work and play? How much do we really know about the 1.3 billion people who inhabit this vast country?

These questions are visually answered in Tom Carter’s CHINA: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author.

Carter, a San Francisco City native, spent 2 years backpacking 56,000 kilometers (35,000 miles) across the vast Middle Kingdom to visit over 200 cities and villages, including some of the most remote locations in the country: from the steaming jungles of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan to the frozen banks of the Amur River in Manchuria. En route, he discovered and photographed immense geographic and ethnic diversity.

“What the photographs herein reveal is that China is not just one place, one people, but 33 distinct regions populated by 56 different ethnicities, each with their own languages, customs and lifestyles,” writes China expert Carter in his introduction. “It is my most sincere hope that this book unites the people immortalized in its pages – Tibetan pilgrims and Beijing scholars, Uyghur Muslims and Shanghai bankers, Hong Kong millionaires and Shanxi miners – in celebration of their glorious cultures.

Publisher Pete Spurrier of Blacksmith Books remarked: There are several books of photography already on the market that focus on China’s history or famous sites, but CHINA: Portrait of a People is the first of this scope by a single author devoted to Chinese PEOPLE! Tom Carter has single-handedly photographed almost every aspect of life humanity across the PRC.”

CHINA: Portrait of a People includes a forward by celebrated Chinese authoress Anchee Min (Red Azalea, Empress Orchid) who says “Tom Carter is an extraordinary photographer whose powerful work captures the heart and soul of the Chinese people.” Shanghai rebel writer Mian Mian (Candy, La la la) writes the epilogue: “Tom Carter’s photo book is an honest and objective record of the Chinese and our way of life...”

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www.tomcarter.org

CHINA: Portrait of a People, by Tom Carter
Genre: Travel / Photography / Art / China
ISBN: 978-988-99799-42
Size: 15cm x 15cm, soft cover, 640 pages, 800 full color images, with maps of each province
Published: Summer 2008 by Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong, in association with Haven Books
Price: US$35.95

www.blacksmithbooks.com/978988…
August 8, 2008 – For Immediate Release

www.blacksmithbooks.com/978988…

CHINA PHOTO BOOK BUILDS BRIDGE OF HEALING
Tom Carter's CHINA: Portrait of a People captures diversity of 33 Chinese provinces

Beijing, China – As the 2008 Summer Olympics commence, all eyes are on China. But far from being the celebration envisaged by Chinese leaders, the first six months of 2008 have seen unrest in Tibet, worldwide protests against the Olympic torch and the devastating earthquake in Sichuan.

This attention has raised new curiosity: Who are the Chinese? How do they live, work and play? How much do we really know about the 1.3 billion people who inhabit this vast country?

These questions are visually answered in Tom Carter's CHINA: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author.

Carter, a San Francisco City native, spent 2 years backpacking 56,000 kilometers (35,000 miles) across the vast Middle Kingdom to visit over 200 cities and villages, including some of the most remote locations in the country: from the steaming jungles of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan to the frozen banks of the Amur River in Manchuria. En route, he discovered and photographed immense geographic and ethnic diversity.

"What the photographs herein reveal is that China is not just one place, one people, but 33 distinct regions populated by 56 different ethnicities, each with their own languages, customs and lifestyles," writes China expert Carter in his introduction. "It is my most sincere hope that this book unites the people immortalized in its pages – Tibetan pilgrims and Beijing scholars, Uyghur Muslims and Shanghai bankers, Hong Kong millionaires and Shanxi miners – in celebration of their glorious cultures.

Publisher Pete Spurrier of Blacksmith Books remarked: There are several books of photography already on the market that focus on China's history or famous sites, but CHINA: Portrait of a People is the first of this scope by a single author devoted to Chinese PEOPLE! Tom Carter has single-handedly photographed almost every aspect of life humanity across the PRC."

CHINA: Portrait of a People includes a forward by celebrated Chinese authoress Anchee Min (Red Azalea, Empress Orchid) who says "Tom Carter is an extraordinary photographer whose powerful work captures the heart and soul of the Chinese people." Shanghai rebel writer Mian Mian (Candy, La la la) writes the epilogue: "Tom Carter's photo book is an honest and objective record of the Chinese and our way of life..."

###

www.blacksmithbooks.com/978988…

CHINA: Portrait of a People, by Tom Carter
Genre: Travel / Photography / Art / China
ISBN: 978-988-99799-42
Size: 15cm x 15cm, soft cover, 640 pages, 800 full color images, with maps of each province
Published: Summer 2008 by Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong, in association with Haven Books
Price: US$35.95

www.tomcarter.org
Photo-journalist Tom Carter has spent the past four years in the People's Republic of China, traversing all 33 provinces and autonomous regions not just once but twice. The San Francisco native's hardback book, a definitive 888-image volume aptly entitled CHINA: Portrait of a People, is due out this winter from Hong Kong publisher Blacksmith Books. Tom took a day off from traveling to discuss the challenges of taking pictures in China, how he evaded censorship in the tightly-controlled republic, and to share a few insider tips on visiting what is to become the world's largest tourism market.

Your upcoming book focuses heavily on photographs of people, from peasants to punk rockers, ethnic groups to entrepreneurs. As a lone foreigner in a faraway country, how did you approach so many strangers, let alone become intimate enough with them to take their portraits?

Tom Carter: Most of my photos came about as a natural result of my curiosity and interaction with Chinese people during my travels. It wasn't until the end of my trip that I thought about compiling them into a book. This is a tribute to all the people I met along the way.

For the portraits, it just takes a sincere interest in your subjects to get that close. I don't believe in hiding behind a zoom lens; I was actually as near to all those people as you see in the pictures, sometimes just inches away. The candid life shots, which comprise a good third of the book, were actually more of a challenge. As a foreigner walking down the street in China, all activity stops the moment you are seen, so it's tricky to photograph life before life stops to stare at you.

I don't believe any book can capture the true spirit of a country with only pictures of places. Sure, a photo of a sunset over the Great Wall is nice, but what do you really learn from it? I wanted to show the people, and dispel the stereotype of the Chinese as a homogeneous single nationality.

You must speak the language pretty well.

Tom Carter: That's the very first question I always get from other expats I meet in China! It humbles me to admit that my Putonghua borders on offensively poor. I taught English when I first arrived in China, which left me no time to formally study Mandarin. I picked up my entire vocabulary while travelling. I call it Survival Chinese. I can communicate, but I'm usually left out of the gossiping granny circles. A friendly smile works well when all else fails. I might add, though, that Chinese dialects vary widely by province, so even most nationals have trouble understanding other Chinese outside their own hometowns.

You say you came to China as an English teacher, but four years later you're a published photojournalist and author. Did you plan this career move?

Tom Carter: Never, but that's China for you, a real land of opportunity. Teaching was just a means to an end, which was travelling. Out of that first long year on the road sprung my collection of photos, which resulted in a book contract and travel assignments from various periodicals, which brought me full circle back to my second spin around China. I believe I stand apart from my contemporaries in that I'm not sitting around a cushy foreign correspondents' club "networking" [makes mock quotes with his fingers] and waiting for my next assignment; I'm out on the road finding my own. But maybe that's why Reuters still hasn't called me.

You've had a few run-ins with Chinese censorship of your images and articles. Care to share?

Tom Carter: The concept of Freedom of the Press, something the west takes for granted, is still entirely alien in Communist China. The media is state-run and every single word and image that comes in and out of the country needs to be approved by the Ministry of Information. Crazy, huh? But since I'm an independent freelancer without the backing of any news agency, I lack official journalist credentials. Most of my images I've had to get the hard way, which has often resulted in confrontations with local authorities who view foreign correspondents as a threat.

For example, for the three single frames of coal miners with soot-covered faces that appear in this book, I and my Chinese travelling companion had to spend several days in the mountains of South Shanxi before we were able to sneak into a coal mine, grab a few shots then get the hell out before being caught. Mining is one of the most dangerous and controversial occupations in China, and is entirely off limits to journalists. Some of my best photos are hit-and-run like that.

There's one incident in particular I want to hear about: a peasant riot that you photographed and which almost got you arrested. Tell us about that.

Tom Carter: To be caught up in a proletarian uprising – something both foreign and Chinese reporters in China rarely even hear about, due to rapid suppression of information, let alone eye-witness – was extremely frightening but probably one of the book's most powerful images. I was subsequently "implored" by the local police to hand over all my photos, under penalty of incarceration, but a couple have managed to slip into the book [winks mischievously]. I'm still in China and would like to be able to leave without a trip to the clink, so it's not something I can talk about in further detail, nor can we make the photo public until the book is on the shelves.

Guerilla-style documentary photography is something you are obviously proud of. Someone said you have "turned mundane daily life in China into a work of art" but one reviewer wrote that your photographs are "an assault on ordinary people who should be left alone." What's your take on such extreme responses?

Tom Carter: Which one was the criticism? [Laughs] Actually, I prefer the term 'street photography', because that's exactly what I do. I'm out pounding the pavement from 6am to 6pm every day, learning about the culture through observation and interaction. Many photojournalists cover their assignments as quickly as possible so they can remove themselves from the elements, but I revel in the elements. I don't have any technical or artistic preconceptions to my photos. The whole idea of spending an hour setting up a shot and then photoshopping it to death afterwards is not what I'm about. I just capture life as it is, then move on. If the picture turns out crooked, so what! Life is crooked!

I have no desire to make something palatable, even if it means not getting on Getty. On the other hand, any of my photos that are considered beautiful I credit entirely to my subjects. They are the ones who deserve the compliments.

China really is a vast country to explore, and you have been to every corner of it – 33 provinces and over 200 cities and villages. Travelling for a living sounds like a life of leisure, but what's the reality?

Tom Carter: You know, forall the tourism I've promoted for China with my photos and travel articles, you'd think the CNTA [China National Tourism Administration] could at least have comped my hotels. But the truth is I've never received a cent in financial backing. During the two years I spent travelling across China, I slept in 15 RMB [2 USD] flophouses with particleboard walls – which are illegal for foreigners to stay in – with the occasional youth hostel or night on a bus station floor. I taught English for two straight years beforehand so I could save up to travel, and I really had to pinch my pennies to make it last. The upside is that my insolvency resulted in experiences that staying at the Sheraton could never produce.

All travellers are running away from something. What's your excuse?

Tom Carter: I come from a long line of nomads – my mother a Danish immigrant of good Viking stock and my father a hybrid Panamanian-Cuban-Italian – so drifting is in my blood. It's my dream to travel the world, take pictures and write about it. I have no intention of succumbing to that thirtysomething syndrome of settling down. The world is my home.

So what day-to-day difficulties did you encounter during your marathon journey across China?

Tom Carter: You mean hour-to-hour difficulties. My photos might excite a lot of potential tourists, but I'm not going to sugar-coat the reality of actually travelling in China. The consensus among backpackers is that China is probably the single most challenging country in the world to navigate. Aside from the obvious language barriers, you have 5,000-year old customs and extreme cultural differences that can be quite vexing for the typical westerner. Most of these nuances are not something that you can catch on film; travellers have to discover them for themselves, and that's part of the fun.

What keeps you going?

Tom Carter: I delight in the challenges that a country like China poses to westerners. Sure, I occasionally catch myself pounding the wall in frustration, but the thing about the PRC is that every turn is a new adventure. For me there's nothing worse than being bored, and boredom is just not possible in China. See these lines on my face? They weren't there before.

How did you plan your routes?

Tom Carter: I haven't planned a single route since I arrived in China four years ago. I just point myself in a direction, then let life carry me on its current. Not only does every Chinese person you ask where to go have an excitedly different opinion – even about which way is north – but there are so many undiscovered villages that are off the charts. Not to mention that the time it takes to get to these places is often days longer than how it appears on a map, making an itinerary kind of pointless.

Tell us more about surprises along the way, and any dangerous situations you've been in.

Tom Carter: Surprises are the rule, not the exception. In addition to clashes with the authorities over my pictures, I've had everything from a near-lethal bout of encephalitis during my first year in China, to getting shanghaied by crooked English schools, which I wrote about for the Wall Street Journal. One of my favourites is the time I found myself at the business end of a North Korean machine gun when I accidentally crossed into the DPRK at Changbaishan. These are all stories I can laugh about now, though my mother doesn't think so.

It's said that China is now undergoing the most prolonged period of sustained change in history. How has it changed since you have lived there, and how will it change in the near future?

Tom Carter: I think China's most dramatic changes have been brought on by itself and that the now-clichéd term "New China" was something methodically planned out in their boardrooms. The Chinese government is addicted to what I call hyper-urbanization. You've got historic cities like Beijing, where they are bulldozing these ancient hutongs by the hour so they can build office towers, or the 2,000-year-old village of Gongtan in Chongqing that is going to be levelled this summer for a new power plant. I wrote an article about Gongtan for a local magazine but it was quickly quashed because the censorship bureau said "We don't want to bring any attention to that place." These contrasts in architecture appear in my book because I feel it is imperative to capture this last glimpse of China's old slate rooftops before the skyline becomes pure steel and glass. CHINA: Portrait of a People will probably become a history book, something Chinese people will look at twenty years from now and say "Ah yes, I remember."

It seems like everyone wants to know more about China these days. Do you see more people planning on visiting the country?

Tom Carter: China will become the world's largest tourism destination of the next decade, no doubt about it. The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Shanghai's World Expo in 2010 are expected to attract between 50 to 100 million tourists annually. China's doors were closed for so long that it's only natural the world is curious about what's behind them. What the pictures in Portrait of a People are doing is fuelling this curiosity by offering an intimate glimpse of humanity in China, and scenes of daily life that even publications like National Geographic overlook.

You're something of an authority now on Chinese travel. Can you offer any tips for travellers?

Tom Carter: Well, what China wants tourists to see is often at variance with what is actually marvellous about the country. You've got these highly-sheltered tour group packages that cover the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors in Shaanxi, a boat ride on the Yangtze and shopping in Shanghai [makes yawning noise]. Or you can remove yourself from the souvenir shops and luxury hotels, get a local street map and travel on word-of-mouth. Lonely Planet would go bankrupt if people actually took my travel advice, but you definitely see more of the real China my way.

Finally, what's next for someone who's been everywhere in China?

Tom Carter: My publisher and I have been talking about taking the "Portrait of a People" concept to other countries in the region. I would jump at the chance. So I have no idea where I'll be this time next year.

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For immediate release

AMERICAN PHOTOJOURNALIST TOM CARTER COMPLETES GROUNDBREAKING 33-PROVINCE JOURNEY ACROSS CHINA

Epic trip lands book deal with Hong Kong publisher Blacksmith Books


Beijing, China – American photojournalist Tom Carter today announced the completion of a groundbreaking journey throughout all 33 Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, and took his place amongst the few living Westerners able to make the claim.

With limited Chinese language skills and an even more limited budget, Carter backpacked alone across the vast 9.6 million sq. km. Middle Kingdom, visiting over 200 cities and villages.

“I’m exhausted and broke, but it feels good to join the elite ranks of the few in history who have had the ambition and the energy to see China in its entirety – Marco, Mao and Tom!” said the jubilant San Francisco native.

Commencing in early 2004, Carter’s expedition included some of the most remote locations in the country: from the steaming jungles of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan to the frozen banks of the Amur River in Manchuria; from the sun-baked deserts of Xinjiang to the kungfu kingdom of Shaolin; from the Yellow Sea to the Himalayas. En route, he discovered and photographed immense geographic and ethnic diversity.

Carter’s epic trip highlights what is to become the world’s largest tourism market of the next decade. The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Shanghai’s World Expo in 2010 are expected to attract between 50-100 million inbound tourists annually to the People’s Republic.

A freelance photojournalist by trade, Carter also announced a book contract with Hong Kong publisher Blacksmith Books, who will release the author’s stunning photos in a compact souvenir-sized volume entitled CHINA: Portrait of a People.  Remarked publisher Pete Spurrier: “Living and travelling in China can be a challenge for foreigners, and yet Tom has single-handedly and strikingly photographed almost every aspect of humanity in the PRC. This book is a must-have for tourists, expats, photo enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in what today’s China is really like.”

“Some would like to present an air-brushed version of China to the outside world,” Spurrier added. “Tom’s pictures show China like it really is – and the natural warmth of the Chinese people shines through in every frame.”

Notes for Editors

Tom Carter’s travel articles and pictures have appeared in every major English-language periodical in China. He is available for interview by phone or email.

Sample photos from CHINA: Portrait of a People can be viewed at www.tomcarter.org (Flash plugin required). High-resolution images for media use are available for immediate download at www.blacksmithbooks.com/China_….

Blacksmith Books will be previewing CHINA: Portrait of a People at the Hong Kong Book Fair in July.

Book Details

Title:                             CHINA: Portrait of a People
ISBN-13:                       978-988-99799-4-2
Format:                         Hardback, full colour, 800 pages
Publication date:            Winter 2007
Cover price:                   TBC
Purchase link:               www.blacksmithbooks.com/9789889979942.htm
Cover price includes free international delivery.

Further Information
Pete Spurrier at Blacksmith Books: tel. (+852) 2877 7899 – pete@blacksmithbooks.com
END