Discovering New Talents
After I graduated university in 2005, I moved to China and started teaching in international schools. I had done my practice in Portugal and was sold on living abroad. The first city I lived in after moving to China was Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Chengdu is very different from the area of China we now live in. A lot of the daily life was on the street. Buildings were older and there were very few skyscrapers.
One year into my time there, the school I was teaching at asked me to take on their yearbook. I knew enough about computers to handle the job. But I had zero photography skills. However, I knew I wanted to improve upon the previous yearbook, so I started learning more about photography. I started by going out on the streets of Chengdu to record the busy street life. My interests then evolved more into landscape photography as we moved to the coastal city of Zhuhai. Two years later, in 2017, we moved again–this time to experience a new opportunity teaching at BASIS International School Shenzhen.
And guess what, true to form, my style of photography changed again. Shenzhen is such a modern city that I couldn’t help noticing the beauty of its ‘ugly’ concrete forest. At first, a lot of my focus was centered on finding the best of the city’s great architecture and capturing these amazing details. Seeing how the glass interacts with its surroundings, and how reflections draw your attention to it, is one of my favorite aspects of the city to capture.
The World Above and Below
A completely new chapter of my photography journey arrived when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday a year ago. She had many suggestions, but in the end I told her I would like a drone. Previously i was afraid to fly around such a expensive ‘toy,’ but as I did my research I learned that drones are getting more and more intelligent. So a drone it was. This opened up a totally new perspective to my photography. I had to start looking at things differently to create interesting pictures from the sky. I not only had to look up, but also had to look down at what was underneath me. At first I was afraid to fly my drone, but as I practiced, everything went smoother and smoother. I flew higher and further and even between buildings.
While I was exploring the limits of what my drone could do, I contacted a place in Shenzhen called Masslab–a STEM space for kids to attend classes after school and on the weekend. I discovered Masslab through the activities and classes my daughter attended there. They were very interested in my photography and were happy to host an exhibition of my pictures. All of the pictures were taken over the course of a year, and mostly by drone. The opening ceremony was on a Sunday afternoon in December 2018, and many of my students from BASIS International School Shenzhen attended with their parents. It was great to experience their support and interest in my work, not only in teaching their children, but outside of the classroom as well.
The World Around
One of my favorite new photography tools is my new 360 degree camera. I really like the new perspective the 360 camera gives me. On YouTube I learned how to create virtual tours with it, so of course I had to try it out and my exhibition immediately came to mind. I wanted to make my family back home feel like they could walk through the exhibition.
I’ve enjoyed my experiences in different and diverse areas of China, and the opportunities both in and out of the classroom that have come with my time here. I discovered interests and talents I never knew I had. Through my pictures, my family, students, and the world can walk (and fly) through my adventures with me, and experience the world above, below, and around thanks to the new perspectives photography has given me.
David Lambert is an Early Education teacher at BASIS International School Shenzhen. All included photos and many more from Shenzhen and other locations can be found on his Instagram.