Behind the Lens: Tim Franco’s Vertical Communism

Behind the Lens: Tim Franco’s Vertical Communism

Each week we’ll feature one photographer from the PhotoShelter community, and share his or her story behind the shots that caught our eye.

  • Photographer: Tim Franco
  • Specialty: Photojournalism
  • Current Location: Shanghai, China
  • Clients: Le Monde, New York Times, Newsweek
  • PhotoShelter Website:

The Shots:

Photo by Tim Franco

Photo by Tim Franco

Photo by Tim Franco

Photo by Tim Franco

The Story:

Tim Franco’s series “Vertical Communism” is a long term project exploring one of China’s largest and fastest developing city’s, Chongqing. Located upstream of the Three Gorges Dam, Franco finds Chonqing especially interesting because of its political and social history, “with its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure of farmers coming into urban areas for a better life. It’s all pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization,” he says. “I wanted to portray this view of a growing China.” In fact, Franco sees Chongqing as a macro representation of China as a whole.

Franco decided to take environmental portaits using a medium format film camera to better portray the feeling of contradiction he believes plagues the city and country as a whole. According to Franco, China must now “find a way to link some extremes: the highly rich to the very poor; the extravagant to the meaningful. ‘Vertical Communism’ is a portrait of Chinese megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization.”

According to Franco, the first image listed is the strongest representation of this idea. “The old and famous cable car is finishing its trip across the Yangtse river and is above one of the oldest districts of the city,” he says. “In the background, the giant modern bridge is, upon completion, what will link the city to its new modern part.” Thus this new bridge inevitably leads the way to the destruction of the old cable car.

Franco describes his experience working with film: “Working with film and a Hasselblad camera is a pleasure and unique approach that I cannot have [with assigned work]. Discovering the scans of my film a few days after returning from a trip is magical. You travel again through the negatives.”

What caught our eye:

Franco’s use of scale and perspective allows him to clearly communicate his idea of contradiction existing within the city. The vast scenery, litered with high risers and sky scrapers, juxtaposed with its small, sometimes ant-like, inhabitants clearly tells the story of this quickly developing city.

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