In Sickness and in Health
By Daniel Hinks
2020 this foul year of our lord. Disease, death and decay now plague the world. Rising nationalism, right-wing popularism, global economic fallout and political dogma are not the only virus to scourge this earth. The pandemic has spread globally, causing mass hysteria between the World Health Organization (WHO) and nations, causing mistrust and resentment. World leaders point fingers throw accusations playing the blame game like giddy little school children, seeming to forget that there is more at stake than a false ego and the pride of a nation.
Lest we forget it is human lives that are being played with, we are living in desperate times. Have we lost our humanity, our compassion, our humility for our fellow beings? After all, it was Confucius that said: “Under the sky’s and heavens we are all but one family”.
China had put a blanket ban on gathering and large ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, during the first months of the pandemic to prevent further spread of the disease. As of March 25th, parts of China eased up on these restrictions. Each province and city govern themselves under a local municipal government, which is tightly monitored and complies with the laws and regulations of the central government. This makes things more manageable for smaller provinces and cities to resume business as usual under the proper measures in comparison to its counterparts across the country like Beijing, Shanghai, Guandong and Sichuan.
Shandong was one of these provinces that eased up on its restrictions rather quickly, due to its low level of recorded cases of Covid-19. Shandong is 746km away from the outbreak with a documented 788 confirmed cases and only 7 deaths.
Luckily enough for two traffic officers from ZaoZhuang in Shandong province, a population of 4.18Million people and only 24 reported cases and no deaths. Sun Meng, 27, and his bride to be Xu FeiFei, 31, were worried that their big day might not go ahead as planned. However, as luck has it, the ceremony was able to take place.
There is an ancient Chinese tradition of selecting a date for the wedding. The use of both persons birth year that corresponds with the animal of that year is used. Along with the time of birth as they align with aspects of Wu Xing the five elements, this brings luck, prosperity and happiness to life and in marriage. It is believed that if you alter the date, it will bring challenges to your life along with pain, sorrow and anguish.
Sun Meng and Xu Fei Fei, despite their apprehensions, were over the moon to be able to spend their magic moment with their honored guests.
Putting politics and this cold-blooded bummer, which we find ourselves aside and taking a moment to appreciate this beautiful moment between two human beings, for what is a marriage. Love, compassion, tolerance and unity. Everything that makes us human. This wedding serves as a beacon of hope of the future. Shining its light through the darkness at the end of the tunnel.
I am a documentary photographer, visual artist and trouble maker; I am constantly fascinated by the human condition. I take on stories that I truly believe in something that can peak my interest and curiosity, turning that energy outwards into creating work. Looking at the state of the human existence but concentrating on the resilience of the human spirit.
I have a profound belief that the still image has the ability to change people’s minds. Even in today’s modern forever changing fast paced world of now! now! now! and limited concentration spans. The access that your subjects allow me when working is imperative to the work that I create. I treat my subjects with complete respect and photograph them with dignity and complete diligence in order to help tell the truth and bring their stories to life.
My work is intended to bring about understanding of different cultures, races, religions and bridge the gap between humans rather than extending it. Bringing people closer to create a more thoughtfully educated world.
Photo Essay edited by Alejandra Martínez Moreno