What: David Chui, “Journey of an Apple: From Lake Chelan to Hong Kong” signing
Where: Riverwalk Books, 116 E. Woodin Ave., Chelan
When: 1 p.m. May 29
It was just coincidence that David Chui got to chronicle the final harvest of a Chelan orchard.
Chui, a Seattle information technology worker, practiced photography from the mid-1970s, when he left his native Hong Kong to attend school in Canada. His database programming for a Seattle fruit-shipping company led him to meet sales staffer Kent Kuntz, whose family raised apples in the Chelan Valley.
In 2000, Chui was gripped by an idea for a project: follow an apple shipment from harvest in Washington to its final marketplace in Hong Kong, with his camera clicking all the way.
“This idea came into my head, and I couldn’t sleep,” says Chui, now 53. “I had to get up and write the idea down. It was just really a gut-level thing.”
Kuntz introduced Chui to his parents, Norm and Linda Kuntz, who were coincidentally on the verge of shutting down their orchard due to falling profits. Chui would go on to photograph the last harvest and the razing of the orchard for his new self-published book, “Journey of an Apple: From Lake Chelan to Hong Kong.”
Chui began shooting — on color film, in those years before widely affordable digital cameras — in late 2000, and completed his work in 2002. He snapped shots from Chelan to the Seattle shipyards to the Hong Kong markets.
“In some ways, it’s using global trade to explain that we’re all connected, that a housewife in Hong Kong has some kind of impact on a grower’s life in Washington,” Chui says. “Or even a Hispanic field worker — how their life is impacted by someone from across the ocean.”
Chui had no experience with such journalistic photography before embarking on the project, although he’d written technical articles and papers based on his work with database software. His connections with shipping through his employer, Vanguard International, helped Chui track a load of the Kuntzes’ apples from harvest to market. The Hong Kong segment was also a homecoming for Chui, who reunited with family members for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Chui says he might plan a second book of portrait photographs, focusing strictly on individuals involved in the fruit industry.
“If I were to do a book again, my approach would be very different and probably take a lot less time than this one,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about something with black and white film.”
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123