He knew the area well and would often go just to gaze in appreciation at the style and the craftsmanship of the buildings. That was a dozen years ago, when Qin Shizhu was a regular visitor to the Sanjiang Dong autonomous county and there were many representative villages of the Dong ethnic group in the area.
In 2019, when he finally returned to the county in Liuzhou city, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, he was surprised to find that modern buildings without Dong features nestled among the old houses, giving the villages a somewhat anachronistic appearance with their mixture of the old and new.
The scene set his imagination working, motivating the photography enthusiast to capture them. The result of his shutterbug impulse was recently honored during the fourth Country Road Chinese Ethnic Group Photography Prize, along with 19 other photographers who took outstanding images capturing the people and lifestyles of China's ethnic groups.
Initiated in 2015 by curator and art critic Na Risong and others, the prize has been held every two years and has honored more than 70 photographers from over 30 ethnic groups in China.
Country Road, a collection of photos taken by prizewinners of the past three contests, has been published by Beijing-based CITIC Press Group.
Having worked in the media for many years, Na found that photos pertaining to the country's ethnic groups are increasingly popular. Quite a number of photographers have gone to border areas, where many ethnic groups live, to take photos, but Na was not satisfied with the authenticity of their output.