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© ©Foundation Willem Wernsen Photography

Willem Wernsen

  • With the appearance of the photo book you hold in your hands a long cherished dream has come through. Together with my first two books “Beautiful People”(2003) and “Timeless”(2011), “Behind the Great Wall” forms a trilogy of my photography work.


    My interest in China started at a young age. The first acquaintance was in a dark movie theatre through the big screen. The mystery of this enormous country grabbed hold of me as a thirteen year old boy. After seeing the movie ”The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” (1958) with Ingrid Bergman as leading lady, I went looking for books and documentaries, since I wanted to know more about the overwhelming China.


    Thirty-two years later, in 1999, my now deceased wife Margareth stimulated me to make a trip to China. Her sister went there regularly for work and she spoke the language. I was forty-five and was seriously occupied with analogue black & white photography for over twenty years. When this opportunity knocked, I grabbed it with both hands.


    My work has a strong social-documentary character, in which love and interest for people is central. I want to make the essence and the story behind the people palpable for the viewer. This interest for capturing people and the simple things in life, in which the little events of life mainly interest me, also became my drive in China.


    The impression China made on me was foremost an experience. It was not a matter of culture shock, as you might hear from travellers abroad. Before I had already read, seen and heard a lot about the country, but what surprised and touched me were the peoples’ living and working conditions. This reality hit me as a social shock.


    During my travels I thoroughly enjoyed the kindness, helpfulness, openness and hospitality of the people. I did not speak their language and communication occurred with hand and feet. It would occur that people felt somewhat uncomfortable with the strange westerner I was to them. Some situations were so poor and as a social-documentary photographer this touched me profoundly. But, in spite of their vulnerability, they showed themselves and let me capture them. This makes for deep respect.


    My gratitude goes out to all those fantastic people I got to meet and photograph in beautiful and mysterious China. Without them the publishing of this book would not have been possible.


    Selling a book to me is and always will be very special. From all over the world I receive reactions from admirers of photography who own my books and appreciate them. The knowledge that people enjoy my photography and let themselves be inspired by my work is a huge stimulant for me. My own bookshelves bear witness to the fact that others have helped me find my path as well. That I, om my turn, can do this with passion not only calls for modesty but also pride.


    Willem Wernsen.


    Luxe edition, hardcover photobook-192 pages, size 30cm x 28 cm-175 large B&W photos in duotone and stories of Willem Wernsen-Language: Dutch, English, partly Chinese-Publisher: Stichting (Foundation) Willem Wernsen FotografieDesign: Hilde Salverda of Kunst (Art) & Marketing, Amsterdam


    ISBN/EAN: 978-90-822471-0-7 Release : October 2014.


    I am very excited to announce that this fall my new book ‘Behind the Great Wall’is available now. ‘Behind the Great Wall’ is a photo documentary on my travels in China in 1999.


    Costs € 45,-, which will include a signed black & white photograph printed on high quality paper.A4


    To order please transfer € 51,95 (including courier costs) to the account of the Willem Wernsen Photography Foundation, clearly mentioning your full name and address and send an email to stichtingwillemwernsen@gmail.com with your details to receive confirmation.


    When ordering from outside The Netherlands but within Europe, the costs – including courier costs – will be € 58.50, for the ROW (rest of the world) the costs will be € 65.


    I am sure that with acquiring this photobook, you will have an exclusive artefact for you and those around you.


    “Stichting Willem Wernsen Fotografie” Chamber of Commerce number: 60291729


    Bank: IBAN: NL52RABO 0163302111-




    E-mail: stichtingwillemwernsen@gmail.com





© ©Foundation Willem Wernsen Photography

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Photo Information

  • Taken with FUJIFILM X-T2
  • Focal Length 23 mm
  • Exposure Time 1/350
  • f Aperture f/2.0
  • ISO Speed 5000

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