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Photographer who documented more than 50-years of Shenzhen’s history passes away

Posted: 04/22/2013 11:30 am

Shennan Central Road in 1990

He Huangyou, who had been photographing the area that is now Shenzhen for 50 years, died on the night of April 16 at age 75. It has been said that if it weren’t for He’a photographs, at least 10 years of Shenzhen’s modern history would have gone unrecorded, Shenzhen News reports.

He was born in Xikeng Village, in what is now Henggang Subdistrict, in November 1938. He knew the city inside-out and recorded every milestone in the city’s rise from fishing village to metropolis. “Every photograph resonates with the man’s enthusiasm and his love for Shenzhen,” the paper says.

A sign saying “Time is money. Efficiency is life. All business requires people to attend to it. All people have business to attend to.” This photograph was taken in the 1980s when Shenzhen was pioneering China’s experiments in capitalism.

Not motivated by worldly success, He accepted an apartment that none of his colleagues wanted above Guomao when it was not an expensive or exclusive area and took many photographs from his window.

This location came in particularly useful during a severe thunderstorm in February 1987. The photographs he took that night were among his best known.

He was at the openings of all the major landmarks in Shenzhen, at all the major fireworks displays, visited all the major construction sites and attended all of the events held for the city’s 30th birthday celebrations. He would even hold his camera in bed at night.

Shenzhen’s first coffee shop photographed by He Huangyou in 1981.

When the 24th International Photographers’ Union Conference was held in 1997, He’s photos earned him a lot of esteem.

Zhong Guohua, the deputy head of Shenzhen’s photography society was still emotional about the loss of his mentor when he accepted an interview from Shenzhen Evening News. “This is too sudden. He still had so much to offer,” Zhong said. He described He as a modest and pragmatic man, said the city’s photographers must keep He’s spirit and enthusiasm alive.

Migrant workers relax after work at a beach in Shekou in 1984

Zhao Qing, a government official and keen photojournalist, said He Huangyou and his works are irreplaceable.

The first McDonald’s in Dongmen after opening in 1990

A hill in Shekou being dynamited for development in 1979

  • Ray

    Great photos, a lot of history here after all

  • Ray

    Any links with higher resolution pics?

    • Joe

      I would also love to see higher res pics!

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