Lianzhou is not on many tourist itineraries but, thanks to the efforts of one woman, once a year it becomes a hive of activity, as photographers from all over the world descend on the Guangdong town, writes Thomas Bird.
In Yuexiu, Guangzhou’s historic centre, is a jumbled neighbourhood of villas, some predating the Communist revolution of 1949. Down a back lane, one of these fine old houses bears a bright polished sign that reads “Lianzhou Foto” in bold capital letters.
Inside, all is fierce activity: an enormous Epson printer is running off glossy poster-sized images; editors are resizing photographs on desktop computers; interns are racing about nervously while full-time employees complain of sleep deprivation.
When Duan Yuting, founder and director of the Lianzhou International Photo Festival, arrives, she looks sleep-starved but spirited. The few weeks leading up to an event showcasing more than 140 photographers from across the globe are understandably hectic, but Duan appears to be comfortably in control.