As a self-taught photographer, Shanghai-based Tim Gao learned to develop films in the darkroom. With a keen fascination for Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photographic style, Tim began his professional experience doing street photography in 2012, being influenced by photographers including Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Josef Koudelka, Mark Riboud, Takuma Nakahira and Issei Suda, among others. His work shows the exquisite craftsmanship needed to obtain street photography, specially with film cameras.


Street photography is not just a sharp triggering of shutter to shape the outside world in the form of light and shadow. It is simultaneously a curious observation and emotional perception of what’s happening in the ordinary streets at any moment when unpredictable dramas and realities are actually taking place.

I have lived in Shanghai for over 9 years and I explore Shanghai, where urban city and residential lanes are hidden and unknown to me and impact my emotional attachment to the city. Street photography not only enables me to create a documentary view of the unique Shanghai street and the culture behind it,  but also reveals the extraordinary and metaphorical aspect of Shanghai – an invisible theatre of mystery, drama, unease and nostalgia.

I consider taking these photographs of Shanghai street as a form of private diary rather than as an art pursuit. I walk the streets and take snapshots around me in a quiet relaxed manner and I feel elated. Sometimes I had a feeling that what drew me to taking photographs was a mood of nostalgia. When I was walking the streets I tried to capture the ephemeral and dramatic realities and reconstruct them into a new and multilayered world – the paradise of my lost memories.

– Tim Gao’s series of “Invisible Theatre” on Shanghai street photography has been recently featured and interviewed with Leica Camera and many other local and international magazines.

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Tim Gao’s photographic collections of Shanghai street photography have been moved to the newly designed website http://timgao.com/ , check it out and stay tuned!