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Kaleidoscope: Number One Bathing Beach

On photographic assignment, Garrie Maguire finds a temporary home in Qingdao's beach culture

10·18·2012

What does Qingdao have to offer? In her boundaries are China’s most famous brewery, decent swimming beaches, and big stadiums that I was not long around for to see how they are used. What sets Qingdao apart are its geography and early colonial history but in many ways, the coastline of rugged textured stone headlands with nestling bathing beaches is not that different from many areas in Australia, my home.

These photographs were made as part of a Department of Information assignment that invited 10 photographers to capture Qingdao for tourists in a memento book. The hotel we were housed in overlooked Number 1 Bathing Beach. Over the seven days I was shooting, I found myself returning time and again to the beach. It was populated daily with the same people sunbaking (I’m guessing skin cancer is not as high profile as back home) and exercising. The beach had the regular runners who then showered before work, fishermen with nets, retirees whom nothing could slow down.

I became such a regular at the beach that by the last few days, I was being invited to make photographs and portraits that were engaging rather than simply documenting beach life. For that week in autumn I, too, became part of the beach culture of the only wedding-free beach in Qingdao. For that week, I found enough of home and China to feel comfortable there.

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