Hey, I've been enjoying your photos for quite some time now, and am looking forward to new stuff from Seoul. The reason I'm messaging is that I'm VERY new to shooting on anything but my iPhone, and I may also be moving to under-heavy-police-control Xinjiang Region, China to teach English soon (I'm originally from Newfoundland). I'm wondering if you're aware of websites by or for people who are photographers in politically difficult areas; it's something I'd like to prepare for, if I can.
I really don’t know of any website, though maybe someone else can reply with one?
I’m not sure it’s good to compare Colombo with Xinjiang. Despite all the cops and AK’s around Colombo, it’s pretty chill. From what I’ve seen in the news, Xinjiang is probably a lot less chill; though like any city/region/country, it will really depend on what kind of neighborhood you’re in. Might be a good idea to first find out if you’ll be in an ethnically tense area or, and this is just my opinion here, a potentially less tense predominantly Han area.
As for photography, I would say that common sense and street smarts are a must. If the region is anything like Korea, people there might not like having their picture taken. If you’re the kind of dude who asks permission, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble.
If you act like a journalist, you’ll be treated like one. If you act like an English Teacher documenting his time in China you probably won’t have any problems. It really comes down to what you want the outside world to see, and that is something you’ll want to think about since it is not a secret the Chinese government does a good job at controlling that.
If you ARE looking to document a darker side, you might want to keep those particular shots filed away for a more long term project and simply post more positive and fluffy pieces while you’re there.
All in all, I think the news makes places look worse than they are, and at the end of the day, you’ll land, eat some great food, work, sleep, shit, and hopefully take a lot of great photos in a place you never once had any trouble in; despite what your friends and family see on CNN back home.