Chinese name: Zhao Xianzao
Autobiographical Description: by Zhao Xianzao
In 1949, while studying in the Pui Ching High School, I followed a teacher, Wu Chin Li, to take pictures at Yue Xiu Mountain. I also followed another teacher, Ho Chongbai, to New River Pu to do the same. I admired my teachers’ works so much that it drove me to imitate their styles and thus motivated my huge interest in photography. Later on, I took the assignment of shooting most of the pictures in my junior high school’s graduation album.
In my high school years, I often visited Hong Kong. In 1951, when I was waylaid there for a few months, waiting for my US entry approval, I learned about Francis Wu ’s photographic studio at the Gloucester House. The studio’s window often displayed selections of salon pieces, which widened my horizon. I also read the Chinese Art of Photography Monthly, edited by Francis Wu. This magazine often introduced the works of famous masters like Lang Jingshan, Xue Zijiang and Deng Xuefeng. It allowed me to have an in-depth understanding of the masterpieces of that era.
Before I set off to the distant land of America, I couldn’t assure myself that I would be able to make a return trip back home in my lifetime; therefore, my friends and relatives took me everywhere to take pictures for memory. Shatin is a photographer’s heaven. I photographed there on innumerable occasions and also shot pictures of the poor masses. Some of the photographic subjects were acquaintances of my friends and relatives. At that time, people of Hong Kong were generally living in dire poverty.
Some of the Hong Kong life photos were taken with flash light. In those days, a photographer often carried 3 flash bulbs on hand, loading up a flash bulb whenever necessary, then reloading a new bulb for the next shot.
Six decades have gone by. Yesterday’s wasteland of barren rocks has flourished in prosperity. I can hazily remember the approximate locations of my old photographic scenes. They are now all lined up with luxury condominiums towering over them. The friends and relatives who guided me everywhere for my photo tours have all departed. Every time I tread on my homeland soil, I can’t help feeling as if lost in merciless oceans and lonely fields.
Richard immigrated to the United States from Guangzhou, China in 1952. Pursuing his early interest in photography he bought a Rolliecord camera. From the time he came to the United States and 1959 he won first prize both the Boston Globe Annual Photo competition and the all U.S. Photo competition.
Richard can visualize the result of his efforts before the prints are ever processed and what inspired Richard to make the photo becomes evident to the viewer once the prints are made. His success as an artist can also be attributed in part the fact that he processes his own prints using the traditional Gelatin Silver process. Ensuring that the final print is true to his vision form the time he first framed the shot. Many of his favorite subjects and most notable photos derive from his travels in his native China. He has produced memorable spontaneous cityscapes and he has camped out in some of China’s most scenic and beautiful landscapes patiently waiting for the right shot at the right time. The results are often extraordinary by any standard.
Richard’s photographs have been the subject of many awards and important exhibitions as well as being represented in several permanent major museum collections.
- Monte James, Curator
2017 Overseas Chinese History Museum of China. Beijing, China
2016 National Art Museum of China. Beijing, China
2005 Hong Kong Art Centre. Wan Chai, Hong Kong
1998 Arthur Griffin Center of Photography. Winchester, MA
1994 Rainbow Art Gallery. Taipei, Taiwan
1993 Central Academy of Arts & Design. Beijing, China
1993 Guangdong Art Festival. Guangzhou, China
1985 Addison Gallery of American Art. Andover, MA
1985 Peabody Museum. Salem, MA
2000 China: Fifty Years Inside the People's Republic. Published by Aperture. Asian Society, New York
2000 Arthur M.Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
1966 Fellow of Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain
1959 Grand Award, All U.S Army Photo Contest
1957 First Prize, Boston Globe Photo Contest
1956 First Prize, Boston Globe Photo Contest
1955 First Prize, Boston Globe Photo Contest
Addison Gallery of American Art. Andover, MA
Peabody Museum. Salem, MA
Mariner's Museum. Newport News, VA
National Art Museum of China. Beijing, China
Overseas Chinese History Museum of China. Beijing, China
Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, WA
Yee won the First Prize at the Boston Globe Photo Contest for three consecutive years, and in 1959 he also won the Grand Award of the All U.S. Army Photo Contest. Yee has been active in the World Photography Salon since 1960, and ranked second among the “Worldwide Photography Top Ten” chart in 1968. Yee has held many solo exhibitions in the United States and in China, including the Hong Kong Arts Centre (2005); Central Academy of Arts & Design (Beijing, China, 1993); and Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, U.S., 1986). Yee’s works are in the collection of the Peabody Museum (Salem), Mariner’s Museum (Newport News, VA) and Seattle Museum of Fine Art. The photos Yee took during the 1950s and 60s depict the everyday life of small communities of Hong Kong, enveloped with the warmth and humanistic qualities as well as the simple and laid back sentiments of the bygone days. The sophisticated use of texture of lighting contrasts exemplified the elegance of photography, allowing the ordinary folks to emanate their unique aura.