Shooting CCTV’s “Big Pants” with an American Photographer


How time flies! I haven’t seen my good friend Jim Olive for 8 years. Really miss him a lot.

In mid-October of 2009, the famous photographer Jim Olive came to Beijing on his second trip to China. The first trip was arranged by Chinese Photographers Association, and I accompanied him to Pinyao International Photography Festival with great gains. When he came to China this time, he asked me what he should shoot, so I took him to the new CCTV building, or the so called “Big Pants”.

Jim is a diligent and devoted photographer, and also a good friend that I had in Houston. He has shining silver hair with tall and strong body. He is gentle and speaks slowly with a deep voice, making people feel friendly and close. He was born in an ordinary farmer’s family in western America. His extraordinary achievements in photography are closely connected with his constant efforts.

Jim had an accident on this trip to Beijing. He had a big fall on the carpet over the stairs of the Baihuan Hotel entrance, and his precious Canon lens was broken. He was almost 67 years old then and I asked anxiously if he had hurt his waist or legs. Fortunately he was well built and the only thing that was broken was his lens which was broken into two. The broken part rolled into the wall corner. If it had happened in American, the hotel would have paid for all the damages because of the condition of the stairs and the carpet. If the victim sues the hotel, the hotel is sure to lose the case. Jim is a humble person and he didn’t ask for anything but regarded this as a bad luck. Since Jim was the guest invited by the Chinese Photographers Association, I tried to cut his loss by negotiating with the hotel manager. At last the manger said he would help repair the broken lens. Every photographer knows that a broken lens is beyond repair. Jim just said “forget it”. He handed the broken lens to the manger just as a polite way to accept his good offer without expecting any hope.

Jim wanted to shoot some new buildings with special features in Beijing and I noticed a pretty metal statue opposite to the “Big Pants”.

So I took him to the metal statue with a popular new design, and Jim was so happy to see it.

Jim spent 2 to 3 hours shooting around that small area. He stood, squatted or lied down during the whole process.

I was with him, taking pictures of him working so diligently. At the same time I also searched for what I was interested in. I was trying my different shooting angles to create my own works of art.

I had noticed this statue myself for quite a long while. Its unique design and smooth metal mirror surface give people different associations. It has a limitless strength of expression.








The straight line from the building and the curved line of the statue make a sharp contrast, forming a unique kind of beauty.

I am very interested in his shooting postures and the reflections in the mirror surface.

The late afternoon’s color and light keep on changing.

The surrounding high buildings with their reflections in the statue’s mirror surface give people a smell of modernization.

The high buildings seen through the gap are very interesting.

The reflection of the sunset glow makes the statue very bright.

Does this contrast in color make people excited?

I think Jim must also be observing the color of the “Big Pants” in the sunset

Evening finally arrived. There were brilliant lights all over.

Jim was enjoying his masterpieces in the brilliant sunset.

It is just one scene of a devoted American photographer.

One month later, I called Jim about his broken lens. From the other end came his mild and deep voice, “Repaired! Working well”. On the one hand, I was surprised at the Chinese camera repairman’s skill, on the other hand, I was fully aware of the meaning behind this humble gentleman’s answer.

How are you, Jim? How I miss you!

Former Chinese Consul General Houston Jinzhou Hua

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