American Photojournalist’s Book Creates Sweeping Vista of Modern China

 (MediaQuire) American photojournalist Tom Carter has lived in China since 2004 and logged over 35,000 miles through each and every one of the 33 provinces of China, the fourth largest country in the world, one of the first foreigners on record to travel the country this extensively.

On a limited budget, and with just a backpack and a digital camera, Carter has visited more than one-third of all the cities and villages in China, encountering 56 different ethnic minorities, each with their own distinct languages, customs and lifestyles, learning everything he can about these people, their society, and their way of life. (

Carter’s groundbreaking book, CHINA: Portrait of a People, now in its second printing, is a hefty 638 pages and contains over 800 color photos, all taken with a singular goal: to portray China to the West candidly, fairly and objectively. Despite increased tourism and rampant foreign investment, the cultural distance between China and the West remains as vast as the oceans that separate them. This book is a dazzling visual tribute to the people of China. The book includes a Foreword by Anchee Min who says, “Tom Carter is an extraordinary photographer whose powerful work captures the heart and soul of the Chinese people.”

CHINA: Portrait of a People  By Tom Carter /  With an epilogue by Mian Mian, author of Candy.  Second edition includes a new forward by Anchee Min, best-selling author of Red Azalea

83 Five-Star Ratings on Amazon as of Nov 12, 2012

China counts 56 ethnic groups within its borders. The descendants of Manchu soldiers, Silk Road traders and Lao hill tribes have their own cuisines, languages, and customs. American photographer Tom Carter spent two years on the road in China. Traveling by the cheapest transport and sleeping in two-dollar guesthouses, he lived side by side with the ordinary but incredibly diverse people of the PRC. The images he collected break all stereotypes of the Chinese.

About the Author, Tom Carter

Travel photographer Tom Carter (1973) was born and raised in the City of San Francisco and graduated with a degree in Political Science from the American University in Washington, D.C. Following a political career with a number of high-profile state and national campaigns, Tom decided to “peek over the fence” and subsequently spent 18 months backpacking down the length of Mexico, Cuba and Central America. Tom later spent one year in Japan, one year in India, and four years in the People’s Republic of China, travelling extensively throughout the country’s 33 provinces and autonomous regions. The result was his first book, CHINA: Portrait of a People, hailed as the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author.

What People are Saying about CHINA: Portrait of a People:

Capturing the diversity of [China’s] 56 ethnic groups is a remarkable achievement … There are a number of shots in this book that could easily grace the pages of National Geographic… Unless you want to undertake your own two-year trek through some of the mainland’s most difficult terrain to take your own shots, this is a study well worth having on your bookshelf.   –South China Morning Post
In these 900 images, Carter shows just how diverse the Chinese really are, with their different facial features, skin hues, lifestyles, cultures and occupations. What ensues is an engaging and enlightening photo essay of 1.3 billion people.  –Asian Geographic Passport 

A striking, kaleidoscopic vision of China’s lands and people.  –The Beijinger

Through Carter’s journey of self-discovery, we end up discovering a little more about ourselves — and a land so vast, so disparate, that 638 pages of photos barely manage to scratch the surface. Still, CHINA: Portrait of a People is a very good place to start peeling back the layers.  –Time Out Hong Kong
Travel photos taken by a stranger seldom fascinate. But 800 color images captured by Tom Carter as he spent two years on the road, traveling 56,000 kilometers through all of China’s 33 provinces, make a dramatic exception … Carter’s weighty book takes an effort to carry home from a store. But anyone interested in China should love owning it.  –Cairns Media Magazine
Getting a full picture of China – a vast country with an enormous population, a place that is experiencing sweeping cultural and economic changes – is, of course, impossible. But Tom Carter comes close. … It’s a remarkable book, compact yet bursting with images that display the diversity of a nation of 56 ethnic groups.  –San Francisco Chronicle 
In China: Portrait of a People, Tom Carter shows us that there are actually dozens of Chinas. The American photojournalist spent two years traveling 35,000 miles through every province of China by bus, boat, train, mule, motorcycle, and on foot.   –Christian Science Monitor