When Wang Fuchun steps inside a train carriage, he pays no mind to where his seat is, but instead directs his lens towards the faces that inhabit the train.
He has been doing this for over 30 years.
Wang Fuchun was destined for the railway. After graduating from the photography department at Harbin Normal University, he began to work in the railway system. One day, his superior asked him to take photos for the workers. This was the beginning of his career as a professional photographer.
Over the past three decades, he has captured travelers' lives, and with it the traces of what society looked like at various moments in time.
During the 1980s and 90s, when waves of migrant rural workers traveled to find work, the steam locomotives carried whole communities of people leaving and returning to their hometown. During Spring Festival travel rushes, it wasn't even possible to get on the train through the doors, forcing people to climb through the windows. But Wang's photos show people looking delighted – the passage of going home by train was itself worth celebrating.
Wang describes trains as spaces that are like temporary micro societies – travelers from all across the country, speaking different dialects must share a single space together.
Wang's focus on people reflects his belief that every photo is a story, and every person has a story to tell. He has an intimate and poetic approach to photography that turns each photo into a story.
His photos also reflect the country's transformation. Green and steam locomotives have been replaced by bullet trains. People now carry smart phones and tablets instead of brick cell phones. "You can find traces of all eras on the train," says Wang.
Nowadays, 74-year-old Wang Fuchun is still an active photographer. "Actually, I take photos on the train out of my affection," he explains. "Had it not for the affection for the railway, I couldn't have made it this far.
You take a photo today, it will become history tomorrow. You can't repeat it, nor can others."
Cameraman: Li Ruimin
Film editor: Zheng Hanyue
Story written by: Zhu Siqi
English editor: Xuyen Nguyen