1. Thank you, Desmond Lim, for the in-depth interview and profile in The Straits Times, Singapore, July 10. Thank you too, to Stephanie Yeow and the Picture Desk that watched me grow up! 


  2. Thank you, Olivier Laurent and TIME for this piece from a few weeks ago!


  3. @JamesEstrin’s NYTLens blog interview on my joining VII now out in Chinese, on the NYTimes Chinese site. Thanks much Jim and NYTimes Chinese! 


  4. Just ended a week of Instagramming for @opensocietyfoundations from a Guangzhou urban village and migrant worker community. Thanks for following! It’s been fun and meaningful.
    Full set of images on @opensocietyfoundations’s feed, or http://instagram.com/opensocietyfoundations
    Construction worker He Tiejun, from Hunan province, searches for a mobile phone signal — notoriously bad in the claustrophobic and run-down urban village where he lives with four other workers from his hometown while in Guangzhou for three months. He bought this secondhand Chinese-made smartphone for 120 yuan at a neighbourhood store just a few days ago and has been thrilled with it, keeping it wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent his sweat from ruining it as he works hauling and laying electric cables at a posh new shopping mall in downtown Guangzhou. He uses it to call home to chat with his family and lays in bed watching Chinese movies on it, downloaded at a local Internet bar. ——— Thanks everyone for coming along exploring with me around this migrant worker community this past week. I’ve enjoyed spending time and having conversations with them, and was fortunate to see them working and living up-close.
    Thank you @opensocietyfoundations for the opportunity to share some of their stories — and to put some human faces on the economic growth and urbanization we see all around us in China. Over and out! Photo by @chiyin_sim / @viiphoto@opensocietyfoundations @everydayasia #osf #opensociety #documentary #photojournalism #concernedphotography #urbanization #migration #land #housing #china #guangzhou


  5. A big thank you to @jamesestrin for the in-depth interview he did on my past and present, for NYTimes Lens blog. 

    Just back from the road and posting this late. 


    A Familiar Destiny to Photograph the New China


    Sim Chi Yin had a cushy expat life in Beijing working as a reporter for The Singapore Straits Times, writing long feature stories and sometimes taking photos. The company paid for her education at the London School of Economics in exchange for eight years of employment. She had health insurance, a pension and job security.

    So why did she walk away from that after nine years?

    “I wanted to be a photographer but the editors at The Straits Times said I was overqualified,” she recalled. “Almost every year I asked to be assigned to the photo desk but they didn’t take visual journalism seriously.”

    Ms. Sim — an ethnic-Chinese, middle-class child from Singapore whose family had risen from humble roots — had wanted to be a photographer since she was a teenager. So as grateful as she was to her newspaper, she took a gamble on photography.

    Her decision, which meant slashing her expenses and moving to a smaller apartment, has paid off: Last month she joined the cooperative photo agency VII as an interim member, after being mentored for the past three years by Marcus Bleasdale as part of VII’s mentorship program.

    Monks on a leisurely visit to Mandalay Hills. Monks are revered in this largely Buddhist country and led mass protests in 2007, leading to a crackdown and an exodus of Burmese activists into Thailand.
    Monks on a leisurely visit to Mandalay Hills. Monks are revered in this largely Buddhist country and led mass protests in 2007, leading to a crackdown and an exodus of Burmese activists into Thailand.Credit Sim Chi Yin/VII

    “Most importantly, she is great photographer, a great journalist and a really good person who is dedicated to issue oriented storytelling,” said Ed Kashi, who is on VII’s board.

    He also acknowledged that VII, like Magnum and other cooperative agencies, have had too few women and people of color as members and that Ms. Sim’s background is a welcome change. Ms. Sim, who has freelanced for The New York Times, Time Magazine and the New Yorker, speaks fluent Mandarin.

    The interim membership is like a two-year trial marriage for both sides, during which Ms. Sim wants to organize group projects and expand the agency’s presence in Asia.

    Chi Yin Sim grew up in Singapore in an ethnic Chinese family that had lived overseas for three generations and almost never spoke of the past. As a teenager she devoted herself to being “a useful person”, working with disabled people and volunteering as a Salvation Army Christmas bell-ringer at shopping malls.

    Her parents were not interested in politics or civic engagement. Ms. Sim always felt that her parents didn’t understand or approve of her interest in social issues, activism and eventually journalism.

    But she did not fully understand their disapproval at first.

    After receiving a masters in Chinese history she delved into her family’s past, especially curious about her grandfather, whom no one ever spoke of. Her mother showed her a photo of a man with a box camera slung around his neck.

    Sim Chi Yin's grandfather, Shen Huansheng. It's likely this photo was taken in the early to mid 1940s in British Malaya.
    Sim Chi Yin’s grandfather, Shen Huansheng. It’s likely this photo was taken in the early to mid 1940s in British Malaya.Credit Sim Chi Yin/VII

    Over the next eight years she discovered he had been a school principal, businessman and eventually the editor of a leftist newspaper in Malaya. She learned that he had been active in Malaya’s Chinese community and was arrested and tortured by Japanese occupying forces during World War II. When the British returned, he wrote anti-colonial editorials, which led to his arrest. Given the choice of staying in jail or being deported, he left to his ancestral village in Guangdong province, leaving his family behind temporarily.

    Ms. Sim only learned this hidden family history in full when she visited her relatives in Gaoshang, a farming village in China, in 2011. Her grandfather is revered as a martyr for the revolution: a six-foot tall obelisk marks his burial place. A month after arriving he joined the Chinese Communist Party guerrillas, he was captured by Nationalist forces and was executed shortly before the Communist victory.

    Ms. Sim often wonders what her grandfather would think of the “New China” he fought for. She is “sure that he would be disappointed” with a lot of aspects of it. But she also suspects he would have approved of her interests in journalism and social issues, as she tries to do what she can “to be useful.”

    “It’s an enormous place with enormous problems,” she said. “But I have come to really care about China and its people. After all, it’s the place where my grandfather died for.”

    Follow @chiyin_sim@JamesEstrin and @nytimesphoto on Twitter. Lens is also on Facebook.

  6. Morning light creeps in through the cracks. I’m posting this week for @opensocietyfoundations on their feed from a migrant worker community and urban village in #Guangzhou. @viiphoto @opensocietyfoundations @everydayasia #opensociety #documentary #photojournalism #concernedphotography #urbanisation #urbanization #migrants #migration #land #housing #urban #rural #china #guangzhou #everydayasia #viiphoto

  7. This week I am posting on the @opensocietyfoundations Instagram feed from a migrant worker community in Guangzhou. Follow us there ! Thanks! ———————————————————A worker does a mini impromptu pole vault to jump over a big puddle on a worksite on the edge of a urban village in downtown Guangzhou where a large migrant worker communities lives in what used to be a village of vegetable farms and fish ponds before the city’s economic boom.
    Photo by @chiyin_sim / @viiphoto
    @opensocietyfoundations @everydayasia #opensociety #documentary #photojournalism #concernedphotography #urbanisation #urbanization #migrants #migration #land #housing #urban #rural #china #guangzhou #everydayasia #viiphoto

  8. This week I’m taking over the @opensocietyfoundations Instagram feed and posting from an urban village in #Guangzhou I’ve been photographing as a chapter of my on-going work on urbanisation in #China. I’ll be posting mostly just on their feed this week.
    Come along as I explore and discover! ————————
    Hello! This is @chiyin_sim posting this week from a migrant worker community in an “urban village” in Guangzhou, southern China, documenting daily life here. Like most of Guangzhou’s famed urban villages, this one — formerly all vegetable farms and fish ponds – lay on the outskirts of the city some 30 years ago, before the economic boom. The village now sits in the heart of what has become Guangzhou’s central business district, in a half-demolished state, a run-down warren of alleys. It is now inhabited by locals who remain and migrant workers for whom these houses are the only affordable option as rents in the neighbourhood have sky-rocketed in recent years.
    Photo by @chiyin_sim / @viiphoto
    @opensocietyfoundations @everydayasia #osf #opensociety #documentary #photojournalism #concernedphotography #urbanisation #urbanization #migrants #migration #land #housing #urban #rural #china #guangzhou #everydayasia #viiphoto

  9. Into grandma’s arms. #guangzhou #cbd #iphoneonly #hipstamatic #china #urban @viiphoto

  10. Tiger tiger burning bright / In the forests of the night / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry? #williamblake #guangzhou #night #iphoneonly #hisptamatic #china #everydayasia @viiphoto

  11. Goodbye Jiangxi, hello Guangzhou. 

    Picked up by a very chatty cab driver at Guangzhou airport, Mr Zhang. Originally from Chongqing in Sichuan province. Left his village at 16, one day after Chinese New Year that year, following older villagers to southern China. He recalls taking a six-day journey south, waiting for a few days to get onto the crowded trains and then riding a cargo train with a makeshift toilet for two days to get to Huizhou, Guangdong province. “It was so cold when we got there because it had been raining in Guangzhou. We tried to sleep inside the train station to wait for the morning bus but the cops came in and beat us with batons, driving us out into the rain. They were very hostile to migrant workers from other provinces then, not anymore these days, it’s very inclusive here now…. Guangzhou and Shenzhen are full of migrants. You know the Americans and others say China has bad human rights, but actually things have improved so much over the last 20 years, from our point of view.” 

    His first job was on the production line of a metals factory, earning 5 yuan a day. “There was a village girl who also worked there. She had just finished Primary 6, so i guess she was 12. She was so short she had to be carried to sign her pay slip on a desk on pay day! At the time, no one talked or cared about child labour. It’s so different now.” Over the next several years, he worked in almost 20 factories, before becoming a taxi driver in Guangzhou in 1990. 

    “Life has improved so much for all of us in the last 20 years. The changes have been really big. We don’t expect the government to change very quickly. As long as what they are doing is providing us a stable, secure livelihood, we won’t want any big political turbulence. Every country has to have the kind of political change that suits it. Each time there is political turmoil anywhere in the world, it is the people who suffer.” 

    Mr Zhang is raising two children and couldn’t get his 9 year old into a public school in Guangzhou without paying extra fees as an migrant. He’s sent his children home to go to school and plans to move back to Chongqing next year. 

    “I feel these past 14 years as a taxi driver here in Guangzhou have been the most tiring in my life. Human aspirations are infinite…” 

    #conversations #guangzhou #china #migration #migrant #SonyRX1r #aerial #flight @viiphoto #instagram 

  12. Joined VII! 

    I’m a few days late coming to this; have been traveling, with unstable Internet. Thank you to everyone who sent congratulatory emails, FB messages, SMSes. 

    There are so many people to thank for this, chief among them Marcus BleasdaleSusan MeiselasFred RitchinEd KashiIan Johnson, and mentors and picture editors who have watched over me in the three years since I quit my job to plunge into this second career somewhat belatedly. Thank you too to VII Photo Agency members and mentees, and staff members past and present who have provided crucial support in these initial years. 

    Thanks to Olivier Laurent for writing about the news on TIME Photo,Desmond Lim for writing a detailed profile in The Straits Times and James Estrin for the piece he wrote for The New York Times - Lens - Photography, taking time and care with it. 
    Here are their pieces: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/vii-sim-chi-yin-china-photos-family-destiny-to-photograph-the-new-china/

    Onward, into a new, exciting chapter of hard work, discovery and experimentation! 



  13. Apparently the largest old camphor tree to be transplanted and survived. Perhaps over a thousand years old. #Ji’an,#Jiangxi, #China. #iphoneonly #hipstamatic @viiphoto

  14. In the shadows: As the sun sets, customers and waiters cross paths at a street-side food stall in Rantau, #Seremban, a small town in #Malaysia where my maternal grandparents live on the sole Main Road. It was an idyllic place when my grandfather ran a grocery store and rice wholesale business to raise his 10 children. My mother’s memories of the place were mainly of playing by a river after school. More than 40 years ago, she left for the much more urban Singapore where I was born and brought up. Her hometown has the charms of the old world through my eyes, but to our relatives who still live there, it has become a backward place where crime is common and ethnic tensions present. In recent years, I’ve been going back to visit my grandfather, who is 97 and fighting final stage cancer, making pictures around the town where my grandfather settled after setting sail from southern China at age 19 with a single sack of belongings and a fistful of money. He became a local community leader, helping build and fund schools, but he still speaks of his dream: to bring Kentucky Fried Chicken and a mall to his small town. Jan 2014 #latergram #sonyrx100 #family #roots @viiphoto @everydayasia

  15. In February, I had the opportunity to photograph rising American women’s basketball star @brittneygriner — the top draft pick in the WNBA last year — for @espnmag . I know I’m short… but man, she’s tall!
    Came across this frame downloading photos off my phone.
    Some of the images from that shoot: viiphoto