Over a period of six months, photographer Bence Bakonyi ventured from his home in Hungary and travelled throughout China by himself, documenting the cities and landscapes he saw along the way.
While China’s population exceeds 1 billion, you would never guess that just by looking at Bakonyi’s photos. Since the ever-present launguage barrier made him aim his camera at the environment instead of the people, the resulting images are hauntingly stark and empty.
“I didn’t speak Chinese, so I wanted to show China without people,” he told Business Insider.
China has a fast-growing population, so making the country look completely empty might seem like an impossible task. Yet Bakonyi managed to do just that, even without the use of Photoshop or image manipulation.
Bakonyi started his journey in Shanghai, then embarked on a 300-mile train ride west to Mount Huangshan. He continued west throughout his trip.
'I tried to find my home in a world completely unknown to me,' Bakonyi wrote on his web site. 'And because home is where one can find himself, the photographs can also be seen as self-portraits projected onto China.'
'I would like (it) if my audience (could) see how I felt myself in China without Chinese language, because almost nobody speaks English,' Bakonyi said.
Bakonyi didn't use Photoshop techniques to remove people from the photos -- he just waited for the right moment. When he found an area he wanted to photograph, he would set up his tripod and wait for the scene to empty.
Waiting for the empty scenes was easy for him in the countryside, but it became more difficult when he got to the cities. 'It was increasingly challenging to avoid the portrayal of humans (in the cities),' Bakonyi wrote.
During his journey, he focused on deserted footpaths, abandoned swimming pools, buildings, and landscapes.
Bakonyi titled this series 'Segue', meaning a smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another. He felt the word accurately described his travels through China.
'In the first part of my journey I had been wandering through the countryside, trying to avoid the metropolitan areas, but with time, I found myself in ever-larger cities,' he wrote.
He spent weeks at a time in places like Lanzhou, a city on the Yellow River. He eventually decided to turn east and make his way over to Hong Kong.
He would spend his days exploring rooftops, cities, and even trash dumps looking for the ideal place to capture his photos.
Travelling alone helped him get the photos he wanted. 'Usually, I like to travel alone,' Bakonyi said. 'It's just myself with my thoughts.'
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