The official China News Net published an article based on interviews with Chen Shilin, translated by CDT:
Chen Shilin is a high-ranking technician in the China Photographic Association. In the past he served as group director of the Xinhua News Agency photography department technology group, Renovation Group director, and director of the National Political Leadership Photography Work Group. At that time, other than Chairman Mao’s official portrait, Chen Shilin also retouched all national leaders’ photographs including those of Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De and Lin Biao.
At age 10 Chen Shilin was sent by his father to apprentice at the Nanjing Photographic Studio. After this he went to Hong Kong and Taiwan to study the skill of retouching photographs. In July 1950, Chen Shilin returned to the Mainland. At that time there were very few people who knew how to retouch photographs. He also could alter the light of a photograph, and adjust its density and three-dimensional effect. For this reason Chen Shilin was identified as a person of talent, and entered the Central News Photography Bureau. Later he entered the Xinhua News Agency’s photography department, and enjoyed similar preferential treatment to that of old revolutionaries from Yan’an, eating special food and being provided special living arrangements.
He was fortunate to have been chosen to prepare Chairman Mao’s official photographic portrait, and put his skill to its maximum use.
More excerpts from the article, selectively translated by CDT:
… Chen Shilin recounts that photographing Chairman Mao was a challenge. He was always so busy and tired. You couldn’t tell him to go brush his teeth and make them nice and white! In photographing Chairman Mao, we had to make certain arrangements and slightly retouch the photographs, but that’s all. If his teeth came out black in the original photo,
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