Tim Franco is a French-Polish photographer based in Shanghai. Since 2005, he has been fascinated by the transformation of Chinese cities.
Tim Franco’s collection of images on extreme urbanization in Shanghai was shot with large-format 4x5-inch film to emphasize every detail and the metamorphosing landscapes, which frequently juxtapose brand-new skyscrapers with ancient neighborhood alleys.
Why did you choose this subject?
The majority of my documentary work relates to how fast-developing countries are dealing with a growing urban environment and the direct impacts it has on its inhabitants. Over the past six years living in Shanghai, I was a direct witness of those changes, especially during the World Expo 2010. That is why I have decided to capture parts of the city that are changing the most, in large format, as a kind of memory print.
What do you see when you look at these photos?
Some of the photos help me to remember the city was when I first came here;
a few show buildings that don’t exist anymore. Others (the most modern) make me feel lost, like I am in a city that traveled into it’s own future faster that its own people.
What research and production did you go through to make these images?
A lot of walking through the city and discovering special places or angles, and waiting for the right moment, the one that translated a specific view on what is happening. Every one of those images is linked with a personal experience I had with the city: places I lived, places I frequently walked by, places that have completely changed over the years.
Do your images help the viewer understand the subject in a new way?
I am not sure. Most of the photos speaks for themselves, and the fast urbanization of Shanghai is not a new thing. I just hope people will question the development of the city; they might wonder what changes this urbanization could bring to their own life, as well as society in general.
What did you learn by making these images?
That shanghai is ephemeral.