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At 104, a Guilin Photographer Continues to Record Life

Li Yuzhen started to learn photography when she was 41 years old. The 104-year-old continues to work behind the lens at her photo shop.

Her shop, Guangyi Photo Shop, is in Lianhua town in the Yao autonomous prefecture of Gongcheng in Guilin, which is in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Li is one of just two residents in her town who is more than 100 years old.

Customers like to call her Rongbo Niang (wife of Uncle Rong) and are most eager to let her take photos of family reunions or for identification cards.

Li learned photography after she and Rong Songting were married in 1953. Her husband, a photographer, had a photo shop across the former Gongcheng prefecture government facility. Before that, Rong had photography shops in Guangzhou and Guilin, but in order to escape from Japanese bombings, he moved to the prefecture in 1944.

Rong taught her everything about photography, from adjustment of the camera's aperture and shutter speed to photo printing.

In 1963, Li was sent to work in a government-owned photo shop in Lianhua county. After retirement, she and her daughter opened Guangyi, the county's first privately owned photo shop, in 1984. Over the decades, using old-fashioned film cameras and digital ones, Li has recorded the dramatic transformation of the town and its residents.

Now her grandson Li Daiqiang has taken a camera in hand and is among five of Li's relatives who have followed in her footsteps.