Camera clubs and photographic societies have existed as early as the second half of the nineteenth century. In many societies around the world, amateur photographers have gathered in order to share their technical insights, exhibit and publish independently their works. Of particular interest is the Paris-based Association of Sino-French photographers [Association des photographes franco-chinois, A.P.F.C, 中法摄影家协会].
The APFC was created in 2012 in the fifteenth district in Paris. It is a non-profit organisation that includes forty-six members, whose age ranges twenty through seventy. Its President – Michel Leang – started his career by teaching Cambodian and Chinese languages in Cambodia where he was born. He then moved to France and launched a shoe repair and locksmith enterprise, which he ran during twenty-seven years. He founded the association website and eventually became its president.
Online platforms are in fact important communication vehicles amongst the members. Chiefly self-taught, they exchange via Weixin – the most popular instant messaging platform in China – in order to set up regular programme of outdoor sessions and group travels at least four times a year and during two weeks time. Over the years, they managed to visit all together several countries, including Italy, Island, China, Finland and Norway.
In addition to such events planned for the members per se, the association is also involved with different actors. For instance, it is at times closely implicated with local politics as some of the members are frequently invited to cover political events. They have also been collaborating for a long time with similar associations, which eventually joined forces.
Mister Leang explains that the association is open to any new recruit regardless their ethnic origins. As a matter of fact, Mister Leang is himself from Cambodia and some members of the association are French. New recruit has to go through a rather informal interview. More experienced members are not supposed to “teach” youngers ones as explains Mister Leang. Instead young members are encouraged to freely express themselves, notably by exploring in depth digital and photoshop techniques that elder members “do not master at all” as Mister Leang said. In the end, the APFC offers then a productive avenue to reflect upon the new trajectories in amateur practices in contemporary times, notably in the Chinese diaspora.
More information: The association’s website