TIFA 2023 Special / Street Photography

The Disappearing Hutongs of Beijing

  • Prize
    Gold in Special/Street Photography
  • Photographer
    Yan Yan
  • Technical Info
    Leica M11, Summilux-m 35 F/1.4 Asph
  • Photo Date
    2023

The hutongs of Beijing offer a stark contrast and look-back in this now vertical city filled with dazzling skyscrapers. These are a labyrinth of narrow, tree-lined streets and alleys called hutongs. Hutongs have a long history, unique culture and charm. Until the mid 20th century most Beijing people lived in hutongs, but today only a few hundred remain, with many demolished to make way for high rise development and roads. I was so saddened. All that history simply gone, and with it the remaining vestiges of charm once associated with Old Beijing.

Yan Yan, photographer, designer, was born in Beijing, China in 1981. After graduating from Communication University of China with a degree in art and design, he started working for a number of international advertising agencies. In 2013 he founded his own company, focusing on commercial design and art creation, and began photography. He mainly explores humanities and street photography. For the past ten years, he has been photographing in different countries and currently he lives and works in Beijing.