Chinese Families Pose With All Their Earthly Possessions | Fstoppers

Chinese Families Pose With All Their Earthly Possessions

Chinese Families Pose With All Their Earthly Possessions

These photos remind me of the series we featured showing North Korea from a western perspective. In another sense all together, it's the complete opposite and contrasts greatly. It starts off by showing very basic well composed images, then it begins to make you realize how much people can actually get by with.

This series comes from Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun in a series titled Jiadang. This translates directly to Family Stuff. The series took a decade to complete and almost all of the families he approached were happy to take part. The reason for that came directly from the response of the families.

“[T]hey [realized] what I was trying to do, they understood the point…They’re not like people from the city, who have so much stuff that if you asked them to do it they’d reply it was too much effort."

If you've ever moved and had to pack, you begin to realize how much 'stuff' we actually have compared to how much we think we have. Even the amount we think we have extends far greater than what these families have. We definitely live in a materialistic age. At the least, these images are interesting and make us ponder upon many things.

When you look at these images, what comes to mind other than the photography itself?











[Via MyModernMet via PetaPixel via BBC via Huang Qingjun]


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eferryanto's picture

Like scenes from Star Wars! 

Tomislav Mavrovic's picture


Jay Huron's picture

Noticed they don't seem to have any table ware. What do they eat off/out of?  Not really much in the way of clothing either. (besides what they are wearing) They also all have TVs and some satellite of some sort. Also, shame on us.

Tom Coles's picture

Shame on us for ......?

Jay Huron's picture

 Being so greedy and gluttonous. Waiting in lines for the latest iCrap. Can't even wait a day or a week to get it. MUST HAVE IT NOW! We have a generation (or more) of people with the willpower and ethics of children.

Tom Coles's picture

Not sure of the connection between the above pictorial essay and the fact that we have more.  We have more because our system works and theirs doesn't.

With that said, we in the west probably have way too much stuff ...I sure do!!!

Jay Huron's picture

 The article asks, "what comes to mind", and that was it.

Tom Coles's picture


Antoine Boyo's picture

So we can judge how well our system works based on how much stuff we own?

Allen's picture

Yeah! That's how capitalism works.It gives Americans more motivation and incentive to innovate and work hard creating the many millionaires this country holds. Way better than a welfare state where people just become more lazy and lazier.

Galia's picture

Our system works For the simple reason that we are riding on their system's backs. as long as we leave as we do, they can never HAVE a real system. The connection Arkhunter made is exact.

Jonathan Meyers's picture

Seems everyone, no matter how few possessions they have, it includes a television.

iceman600 fernandez's picture

lol... i think its a necessity to have one =)

Sean Shimmel's picture

Like the classic saying, "The more I have what I want, the less I want what I have."

John Godwin's picture

I like this quote from the photographer: "Most people thought what I was proposing was not normal".

Well, yeah.. You turned up at people's houses and asked them to empty their shit in to the street. 

Also, to me, these photos don't say anything other than, "People from extremely rural and remote parts of China have a varying degree of functional possessions relative to the size of their homes". 

I get the feeling I'm supposed to stare in disbelief because I can't see any Nike trainers or Xbox controllers. 

Or is it just an exhibition on how people live in another part of the world...? The series appears to be called "family stuff" not "look at how different and better these people are than you for not having shit loads of tech and accessories"  

John Godwin's picture

I'd imagine it's the former, but I still can't help that feel that when this kind of work hits the west, the collective pressure from society is that we're supposed to somehow stare aghast because they're managing to cope without iPhones.

I see what you mean... but i also appreciate the dedication to finish a project like this and try to convey something whether it be some sort of message about consumerism or if is simply a insight into simplicity.... but remember that some people out there probably would be awestruck by maybe not the images, but the lack of goods... right?

Jazhara7's picture

Except it's not only rural and remote parts. Yes, those are the majority. But those tiny houses with lots of stones from torn down houses around them? You can find that in Beijing too, and to a degree in Shanghai. In fact, the tearing down of the old, historical buildings is going on in the center of Beijing, sometimes despite the protest of the inhabitants (yes, they are the legal inhabitants, not squatters or anything)- forced modernisation. People in those buildings don't have as much as some others either (that doesn't always mean they are particularly poor either, by the way.).

Doesn't make me think anything. The series on food (by Time or Nat Geo) was a whole lot more interesting and thought provoking than this. 

funny, my comments seem to disappear quite often here... don't quite know why or how. 

this project is a total remake of "material world" from peter Menzel but in china only did a whole project worldwide which was challenging with 15 photographers. 

Oliver Oettli's picture

I stare with disbelief not at the pictures, but at the comments here on fstoppers. All I read in the latest articles is how bad the pictures are, how they are just copies of other projects, how its badly done and how it all sucks anyways.
I wonder how many of you "professional critics" actually ever made a project like this. And how many of you ever made a project that nobody else ever in any way did before, not even close.
It seems really true that photographers these days can not accept that anybody else also takes good pictures.

Personally, I like the pictures a lot, especially since I lived with families like this many weeks and it sure is a different perspective on life and posessions. But yes, a TV belongs in every home, no matter if they have enough food.

John Godwin's picture

Good for you, you like the shots. Notice how nobody is flipping out about your opinion? How about letting other people have theirs?

I agree... and I have to admit that I hate on quite a bit of photography but these i find interesting.  They aren't revolutionary no... but the concept is basic but neat, the tones are unique and mirror the content, and i feel like the subjects (objects) really pop although im still not sure why.  I certainly would not say you are "flipping out" either... 

Oliver, I believe we can state that this is a remake, does it state that it's not good ? i don't think so, does it say that the project was not challenging ? neither, this might be your interpretation of the comments. 

it's always interesting to see that something has come out, and leads people to maybe click on a link to see what was done worldwide in another dimensio don't you think ? 

Oliver, I completely agree with you. People are eager to criticize, but seldom produce any material of their own.
On this article, I was (positively) surprised with how little some families can live with. I bet they are often happier than most of us, simply because they treasure what they have - or simply because they stare at the TV all day.

Interesting to see the Ger picture.  I wonder if these Chinese are from an area near Mongolia (where i live).  I was on a climbing trip in China a few years ago and was researching some of the northern areas in China and read about some of there customs and cultural nuances and came to realize a fewa years later how similar they were to the Mongolians.  Very interesting series.  This was shot with film... is that correct?

Felipe_Paredes's picture

I was imagine my camera blowing the background to white, and thinking... if this was shoot on film.

im not sure i follow...?

Bob S's picture

The photography is, IMHO, mediocre at best and I'm missing what I'm supposed to be 'feeling' but I suspect it's some form of guilt that I live in a country that I can work hard in and buy all kinds of stuff otherwise I'm lost.. maybe you're saying I should be feeling lucky?  

Is that it?  Guilt?  Self hatred?  Sorry if so, my hair shirt is at the cleaners... 

Juan Carlos Ayala's picture

Not guilt, appreciation for what you have.  Yes, you should feel lucky as most people work very hard throughout their lives for what is a paltry existence while we in the west can work hard and are able to live in a more efficient society where that work is translated into the higher quality of life that we live in.

No need for pity, but just some humility and appreciation.  This is an essay in contrast, no more, no less.

Cybergabi's picture

I would swap the TV set for a MacBook Pro and the satellite dish for a camera, but other than that, this looks like heaven to me. Love the photos.

maoset03's picture

Went straight to the poorest parts of china, why don't make the same set photos in trailers parks, guetos or alabama, in the US, then we can compare.

 That makes sense. Good idea, let people see what we have in our own backyards.

Mike Kelley's picture

Since when do photos have to be absolutely jaw-droppingly, technically perfect and lit to be 'good'? Can't they just tell a story? There are many types of photography that endeavor to do many different things, some perhaps want to show something in the best possible light, and some just want to present the facts and story. Neither is more incorrect, better, or worse than the other.

They all have TV, but only one has an actual bed.

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

I liked the pictures. The composition, color, sharpness. I guess the only image that made feel anything was the yurt in the middle of nowhere one (simple, self sufficient solitude). Other then that, an adequate collection of pictures of people's stuff.  

Beverly Bernhagen's picture

Photo #2 is exactly how my family lives. House size and all.