Thierry Bornier made the big move from New York to Shanghai in the mid 2000’s and has been growing his connection with China ever since.
In 2009, Thierry decided to take a year off of his demanding job to travel around China and discover all of the wonders the country had to offer. It was during that year, when his photography skills were internationally recognized by National Geographic and he began to follow his passion to become a professional photographer.
During his journey, he fell in love with the unique landscape and diverse lifestyle that the southwest province of Yunnan had to offer. Today, Thierry lives between Shanghai and Kunming (Yunnan), but spends most of his time in the latter. For the last 6 years, he has forged a deep connection with the people, place and culture that the province has to offer.
“I have lived here (Yunnan) for many years and love the climate and the lifestyle”
Kunming, often referred to as “Spring City” by locals, is a quiet city is appealing to a number of expats, students and retirees who have come to experience its unique culture and mild climate. Beyond the city limits, much of the local landscape has inspired some of Thierry’s most iconic work. The province’s culture has been influenced by 26 unique ethnic groups with distinct customs, languages, cuisine and traditional dress. One of Thierry’s principle subjects, that has been built and refined for centuries by the local peoples, are the Hani Rice terraces, south of Kunming City in Yuanyang County.
“The fusion of man and nature creates awe-inspiring beauty… I love the patterns and the diversity of each site.”
Since transitioning into the world of professional photography, Thierry Bornier has photographed a number of Chinese ethic groups, landscapes, commercial works and international celebrities. Some of his notable clients include Zhou Fun (Actress), Wan Zhi Fie (Actor), Denise Ho (Singer – Hong Kong) and Yang Liping (Iconic Chinese Dancer).
In pursuit of a more personal project, Thierry takes an annual trip to the Dalian Mountains, one of the poorest places in the country, to photograph the ethnic minority communities that live there. The Yi minority is a community that has been established for thousands of years throughout China, Vietnam and Thailand.
On his most recent trip in December 2015, Thierry came upon a unique and life changing experience while he was photographing a village of 12 people at 3,700 meters above sea level. It was an isolated village with little to no access to schooling and modern medicine. It was here that he met a small, sick, local child. He was personally moved to find a way to get this child treatment for his disease. In just one week, Thierry was able to crowd fund the necessary finances to bring the child to Shanghai for treatment and in March 2016, the baby received his first surgery.
Beyond the unique landscapes, Thierry has found a way to connect to the roots and history of China. Through his daily life and photographs, he shares his experience in China with the world.
“A true image is made with your heart, not your camera.”