China Through A Photographer’S Eye

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Jeff Robbins

Guests at the Payson Institute of Learning’s Discussion & Lecture League will learn about and see China through the eyes of a photographer.

Jeff Robbins, a former Associated Press photographer and reporter, will be the featured speaker at a 7 p.m. program, Thursday, May 14 at the Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St. in Payson.

Robbins and his wife toured China in November with Viking Cruises. He is no stranger to Asia, he was in Thailand for five years with AP and had the opportunity to make a close connection with the people and the lands.

“When I had an assignment, I would always get a week or so to get deeper into the area and do feature pieces,” Robbins said.

He had hoped the tour of China would afford him some of those same opportunities, but the itinerary was very structured.

Robbins said one of the reasons he wanted to visit China was to get additional photos for a book he has been working on for 20 years. The working title is “Faces of Ancient Asia” and it is a book of portraits. He has works from every country in Asia except China. Now he has five or six that suit his purpose — out of about 1,700 he shot.

Still, using his long lenses and his photographer’s eye, he was able to see more than the average tourist.

He spoke about a bus tour that took a route where there were high walls all along both sides of the road. When he mentioned the walls to his fellow travelers, none had noticed them.

Another thing that struck him was the pollution. There were power plants billowing all kinds of junk into the air and the Yangtze River smelled from the wastewater that is continuously dumped into it.

Then there is the phenomenal building that is going on. Many towns and cities of antiquity were covered by water with the construction of the dam. The residents of those places were relocated and new cities are being built.

“One place we saw had about 15 massive cranes constructing high rises, but none were moving … At another place, probably the size of Tempe, I saw only four cars moving.”

Robbins has made his home in Payson for almost nine years, coming from the Valley when an injury forced him to retire from AP.

He does a lot of puttering, going to yard sales and buying things, fixing them up and selling them online. He also has become quite the gardener. He is able to produce enough tomatoes and peppers to make homemade sauce, which he cans a couple of times a year and gives as gifts.

Learn more about China through Jeff Robbins’ photographer’s eye at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 14 at the Presbyterian Church. A donation of $10 is requested. Tickets are available by calling (928) 472-3393, at the Payson Roundup, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, and at the door.

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