Background: China and Macao
Inspired by his son, Jonathan, a scholar of Chinese history, Porter, even before going to Antarctica, dreamed of following in the footsteps of Marco Polo across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. Eventually the two men scaled back their ambitions to focus on China's historic monuments and landscape. After numerous unsuccessful applications to the Chinese embassy, Porter and sons Jonathan and Patrick were admitted for seven closely monitored weeks in 1980. They also stopped for several weeks in Macao. The artist and Jonathan returned in September 1981 for two more months to see areas not previously visited, including the country's far western lands. The result was their co-authored book, All Under Heaven: The Chinese World (1983), combining Porter's photographs with Jonathan's extensive historical synopsis of the culture. Even then, Porter was not done, and returned to Macao in 1985.

Porter brought his 4-by-5-inch view camera to China, but coping with restrictions of age and politics, caused him to rely extensively on his 35mm camera. His images of the country offer a remarkable range of subjects and compositions. Panoramic views mingle with close-ups, landscapes join architectural studies. Myriad views of street life, including portraits of street vendor stands, harbor scenes, movie theaters, and school children, reflect the artist's continuing willingness to extend his vision. The collection holds 591 China and Macao prints.

Return to Photographs