Benny Xu is a photographer living in Vancouver, Canada, where he is studying business at Simon Fraser University. These images are from his series It is Windy Here, taken over the course of three weeks in his hometown of Haiyan, China.
These photos are about the land where my dream is buried. No matter how far I try to escape from it, the fragments of those familiar and unfamiliar moments, together with the wind always blow in the mist of my consciousness.
Benny Xu: I started to get to know some great photographers’ work around 2009, that time I was really into William Eggleston’s photos. At the beginning of 2010 I made a trip back to China and started to take snapshots and the results really surprised me. Photography is underrated by the mass as well as overrated by a small group of people. Personally photography is another “language” to me, I use it to communicate to the world as well as myself.
What inspired you to return to China and photograph your hometown?
I don’t really go back there purely because I want to take photos. Photography in a way shows me another side of my hometown I never noticed before. Sometimes when I had my camera with me I feel like I’m a outsider even though I have lived there for 20 years.
How do you think living in Vancouver, Canada has changed your perception of your hometown; what kind of comparisons have you made between your two environments?
Living in Vancouver definitely has changed my perception of China. Everything here in Vancouver is so beautiful and “politically correct,” and unconsciously I start to look at my hometown as an outsider, there are so many things in China I never paid attention to and now I actually have strong feeling with them. It is weird that the chaos and craziness there makes me feel like I’m actually living and alive.
Do you think that you appreciate certain aspects of your hometown more so now, having been away from it for an extended period of time? What has changed? What have you grown a greater appreciation for?
I don’t think I can pull one aspect of my hometown out and appreciate it more. Nothing has changed, neither my hometown nor me, but I do appreciate the different lifestyle there more than ever, and I’m so grateful that I grew up there, it has given me so much that I would never had if I grew up in North America.
What do you want people to take away from your photographs?
What are you working on now?
I haven’t taken my camera out of the suitcase since last time I came back from China in September. I’m graduating from university, and I’m pretty busy falling in love with someone.
To see more images from the series It is Windy Here, visit Benny’s website.