Chengdu’s He Hua Chi Market is the biggest in western China. Photographer Li Fan explores the lives and businesses inside.

In the narrow alleyways of Chengdu’s He Hua Chi Market, a teeming mass of laborers and small business workers struggle to earn a living. The endless array of clothing, home furnishings, construction materials and souvenirs leaves the beginning and end of the market impossible to distinguish. 

Though the market is the largest in western China and the seventh largest wholesale market nationally, many workers live in near poverty conditions. Photographer Li Fan sought to capture the everyday life of the people who live and work in He Hua Chi.

Li Fan is a college student from Chengdu. After his parent bought him his first SLR camera, he fell in love with documentary-style photography, recording the lives of those left behind during China’s economic boom. He hopes to build understanding of how many people live in his country by examining the social inequalities that often remain hidden. This series of shots were taken of a one-year span. Li uses a Canon EOS 5D camera Mark II and a SIGMA 50mm f1.4 lens.