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Touch the Heart: A  Xinhua Reporter Shares 37 Years of Journalism with 142 Photographs

By SHIHAN YANGICHONGQING|Jul 29,2022

Chongqing-On July 26, “Touch the Heart: 1983-2020 ‘Xiaoguo Vision’ News Documentary Photography Exhibition” kicked off in the building of Chongqing Federation of Literary and Art Circles. “I am a native of Chongqing. Like many people here, I grew up drinking the water from the Jialing River,” said Li Xiaoguo, the senior reporter for Xinhua News Agency.

The opening ceremony of Li Xiaoguo’s photography exhibition. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

In the past thirty years of photojournalism, Li Xiaoguo has used his camera to record many historical moments such as the return of Hong Kong, the Three Gorges cut-off, the Wenchuan earthquake, and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. His photo of a policewoman breast-feeding orphans in the disaster area of the Wenchuan earthquake has touched countless readers at home and abroad. Li said he felt incredibly proud to return his photo exhibition to his hometown.

37 Years of Reporting Career with 142 works

After graduating from Southwest University with a degree in English in 1983, Li started his 37-year career as a photojournalist at the photography department of Xinhua News Agency.

In Li’s “Touch the Heart” photo exhibition, 142 works are divided into the themes of “True Love,” “Destiny,” “Ecology,” “Rise,” and “Warfare.” These vivid and sincere pictures constitute Li’s 37-year career in photojournalism.

At the opening ceremony, Li’s colleagues said he was not only a journalist but also an artist. Even though he has already retired, he still has a sense of obligation to his country.

Li Xiaoguo’s favorite work from his portfolio – True Love on Earth. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Facing each piece of work on the exhibition wall, he could recollect the situation when he shot it, even if it was a long time ago.

Li Xiaoguo’s portfolio – True Love on Earth, records the touching story of an elderly couple who adopted more than 20 abandoned children in 1988 in Zhejiang Province, where they made their living by collecting rags. Li recalled that he shot for five days in a row. After releasing the portfolio, the photo with a small hand touching the old lady’s mouth brought several readers to tears.

In the Ecology section, the intimate details of the five-month-old panda cub “Piggy” with its keeper, and the record of the last moments of “Qiqi,” the only albino dolphin in captivity in China, made people ponder over the harmonious co-existence between humans and nature.

The Discovery of The “Prettiest Mother”

As a reporter for Xinhua News Agency, Li also used his camera to record the battlefield. In “Afghanistan – incurable scar,” the audience can see the pairs of hungry eyes in the orphanage’s crowded and humble dining room and a Kuwaiti standing silently on the ruined oil field with overwhelming loneliness and sadness. Li Xiaoguo said that he wished these photos could make people oppose war and pray for peace.

A visitor appreciates Li’s works. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The exhibition hall’s most well-known work is “The Prettiest Mother,” which was famous at home and abroad during the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

The work that touched countless readers – The “Prettiest Mother.” (Photo provided to iChongqing)

“I went to a police station to ask where the situation was serious,” Li recalled how he took this phenomenal picture 14 years ago, “and the officer pointed to a temporary shelter across the street, where many children had lost contact with their parents. As soon as I walked over, I saw her (Jiang Xiaojuan – the policewoman) breast-feeding….” Li then pressed the shutter.

After the picture went viral, people named Jiang the prettiest mother police officer, and she was given the title of an outstanding member of the Communist Party.

Recording the change and development of Chongqing

Throughout the exhibition, the change and development of Li’s hometown – Chongqing, is also a significant focus. The affecting “one for all” spirit of the Three Gorges residents after the cut-off and the construction of public rental housing in Chongqing were recorded by Li’s camera and presented to the world through Xinhua News Agency.

After returning to his hometown as the honorary president of the Chongqing Photographers Association, Li has been to Wushan County, Changshou County, and Wulong County with other members many times.

“I want to show the changes and development of Chongqing, especially for the ordinary people in Chongqing,” Li said that when he returned to his hometown with his photography exhibition, he mostly felt proud. Meanwhile, as a Chongqing resident, he has always wanted to contribute to developing Chongqing’s photography business.

(Tan Sirui, as an intern, has contributed to the report)

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