Warning: Self-indulgence Ahead

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One of the privileges of being a Time reporter is working with great photographers. I get a thrill out of seeing them approach an ordinary scene and produce and extraordinary image. I find this particularly intriguing as, despite an keen appreciation of good photography, I am a fairly lame photographer myself. Still, I enjoy shooting now and then, and on a recent assignment that took me to a hardscrabble village in China’s northeastern province of Hebei, north of Beijing. I took the shots below which I am now posting because, well, because I can.

The last image is of a villager whose son is in jail after being convicted of murder. She and a great many others –including apparently the country’s Supreme Court in Beijing– are convinced he was framed by the local police along with four friends. That’s his ID card she’s holding. It’s been 13 frustrating years but she and relatives of the other three have never wavered from their efforts to get their children released. They say they are still convinced they will win in the end. Let’s hope so. She was in a bad way. Actually, they were all in a bad way, aging, ill, penniless. But still filled with fiery determination.