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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Grandfather enjoys photography, charity
     2014-September-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Anne Zhang

    zhangy49@gmail.com

    WHILE some grandfathers complain about taking care of their grandchildren, Song Cheng, a 71-year-old Shenzhen resident, feels happy and fulfilled recording the lives of his three grandchildren and being a charity photographer.

    Song has spent the past 10 years documenting the growth of his grandchildren with his camera and published a collection of his photographs in June as a Children’s Day gift to his three angels.

    He decided to devote the rest of his life to charity work and to continue fulfilling his life’s creed of “being a good person and doing good deeds.”

    Family photographer

    Passionate about taking pictures, Song became the “official” photographer of his extended family of 13 people after he retired from a local publishing house. He captures happy moments when the family members get together for a dinner or go out hiking on weekends.

    When Song was 60, his first grandson Huang Songxiang was born, followed by his little brother the next year and a little sister the year after that. “I was suddenly occupied by my new role as a grandfather,” Song said.

    Many retirees accept it as their duty to take care of their grandchildren, but Song threw himself into the job and chose to express his love for them by documenting their growth with his camera.

    He started the 10-year project with a Nikon D70. Song originally planned to make an album for each of the three children every three years, but ended up finishing seven. He chose more than 300 photos from tens of thousands of photos he took and compiled and published the eighth one, which is named “Sunzi Wanfa” in Chinese after the ancient Chinese literature classic “Sunzi Bingfa” (“The Art of War”). Its English title is “The Fun of Childhood Through the Lens of a Grandpa.”

    “Photographing children is fun and challenging,” Song said. “Lowering my body position to their level is hard but a manageable effort for me, but getting the desired responses is a real test.

    “Working with children means being on your feet and fast, which is difficult for a man in his 60s with leg and back pains like me,” he said.

    The most difficult time was in 2005 when Song broke his left ankle and had to be on crutches for nearly eight months. “But I never stopped shooting,” he said. “I love photography and I love my grandchildren.”

    It was during that time when Song took the picture that appears on the front cover of his exquisite 8th album. In the photo, the youngest grandson was putting plastic tape onto his mouth and Song’s image was reflected on a glossy piano in which he, holding a camera and wearing a plaster cast on the left leg, was leaning down on the floor to capture the moment.

    “It’s the only photo in which I was captured,” Song said.

    Selecting pictures to print wasn’t an easy job, either. Song and his wife Luo Sumei spent about three months choosing 324 out of tens of thousands of photos.

    “It’s really hard to choose because behind every photo there was a story,” said Luo, who participated in the entire process, helping draw the children’s attention during shooting, making suggestions and sharing her views on each photo.

    “Life has many good memories. It’s nice to freeze-frame them in pictures,” Luo said. “The album is spiritual wealth their grandfather gives to the children, which can be passed on for generations.”

    Photographing for charity

    As the children grow up, and their time is occupied by homework and extracurricular activities, photographing them has become more difficult.

    “It’s time to call off my project on the children and shift my focus,” Song said.

    To combine his hobby and his life’s motto of “being a good person and doing good deeds,” Song sometimes does photography for charity.

    The first assignment he received was to take pictures for people suffering from myasthenia gravis, a disorder of the autoimmune system that leads to muscle weakness and fatigue.

    “I was so moved by the sufferers’ spiritual strength under their frail appearances and their strong will to battle against their illness,” Song said.

    Song started to learn about public photography for charity in 2012 when the city held the World University Games, or Universiade.

    A local volunteer spontaneously asked Song to record the visit of an international friend from Sudan in a Chinese cultural village near the Universiade village in Longgang District.

    “I took pictures for him in front of the stone lions and Beijing Opera masks and with the elderly, the young people and the children,” Song said.

    The man later put on a red vest — Shenzhen’s iconic volunteer uniform — and talked with local volunteers, which was also photographed by Song. One of those pictures won an award in a photography competition to mark the Universiade.

    “Being a public photographer for charity, you must have a spirit of devotion and be pious about your faith,” Song said.

    Song’s camera has captured numerous touching scenes over the past two years, including a farewell party for soldiers who were demobilized, an activity to collect little dreams from children of migrant workers, visits to the elderly and people with disabilities in local welfare centers and birthday parties for local volunteers.

    “This work allows me to see more bright sides of society and helps me keep a balanced state of mind,” he said. “The joy and fulfillment I get from this work is no less than that I got from photographing my grandchildren.”

    Care for countryside children

    Song was a teacher at a school in the mountainous area of northern Guangdong Province during the 1960s after he graduated from college. Although he left the school nearly five decades ago, he said his heart is always bound to that place.

    A few years ago, Song visited the school during the school’s anniversary, and he noticed that nearly half of the students were left-behind children whose parents headed to cities in search of jobs.

    “These children are growing up with a lack of parental love,” Song said. “Their parents usually go back only during Spring Festival, so I think they would feel the uttermost loneliness on Mid-Autumn Day (a Chinese traditional festival for family reunions).”

    Song suggested that the school should hold activities during the festival, which he paid for. Song held lectures for the students, encouraging them to be independent and to raise their self-esteem, and he donated books, pens, notebooks and moon cakes to them.

    Song also cares about students in poverty. Some of them are orphans or have a single parent, and some students’ parents are disabled or suffer from serious diseases, he said.

    He set up a foundation this year to help poor students and spares 2,000 yuan (US$328) to 3,000 yuan from his retirement pension every month to donate to the foundation, which can support 10 students.

    “I may not become a great man, but I can be a good man. I may not be able to do great deeds, but I can keep doing good deeds,” Song said. “I am enjoying living up to my life’s creed.”

    “I may not become a great man, but I can be a good man. I may not be able to do great deeds, but I can keep doing good deeds.”

    — Song Cheng

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