Fritz Hoffmann’s photographs have made a significant contribution to world understanding of China during its period of reform and opening. Syndicated globally through a network of agents, Hoffmann’s photographs have been published widely during years when a daily source of pictures from China were scarce and there were few resident photographers in China. Presented here is a selection of some of the many published pages from publications that relied on Hoffmann to capture visual examples that would define the trending image of China, to illustrate projections on China’s development and to inform and hold the attention of readers.
Fritz Hoffmann arrived in China before the internet and digital technology made information accessible on demand and before smart phones and social media made it possible for everyone to share their stories and pictures. Images of China’s grand ambitions had to be flown out to publishing centers in the west, cities like: New York, London, Hamburg and Paris. And before dependable courier services arrived in China, film would have to be handed off to a passenger boarding a commercial flight out.
As the only resident foreign photographer living in Shanghai, a city of 12 million in the mid 1990s, Hoffmann was the only person an editor on deadline could call upon to make a picture. Getting the film to the Hong Qiao airport, often by motorcycle taxi that could weave through the ground-level traffic congestion, was at times more challenging than making the picture itself. In those early years of Hoffmann’s China work, readers may have learned of China’s Wall Street under construction in Pudong, trade with Burma in the border town Ruili in Yunnan, The Three Gorges Dam or the Suzhou Singapore Industrial Park being developed in Suzhou. Most recently they learned of Chinese medicine, published in the 38 foreign language editions of the January 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine.
Browse a selection of some of the published pages with Fritz Hoffmann’s China work below.
All photography here is copyright 1994-2018 Fritz Hoffmann.