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Young couple

Xiamen, China




10x 20x25 cm

7x 30x37 cm

3x 40x50 cm

Printed on Hahnemühle Baryta paper + 1 cm witrwhite border

Delivered with a numbered and digitally signed certificate of authenticity


“I started the Touch series in 2014, during a four-month artist residency in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen. I was curious about the cultural differences I encountered there, but I really wanted to portray something universally recognisable: the meaning of friendship and love, in all its intensity and vulnerability. Meeting my subjects in Xiamen’s streets or at the university campus, I started photographing several young adults – primarily women – and their intimate relationships. 


Many of the young women I met were in queer relationships. Whilst homosexuality is no longer prohibited by law in China, it remains a taboo across society, particularly amongst older generations. None of those I photographed have been able to speak openly with their parents about their sexual identities and preferences; I therefore feel privileged that each one was willing to share so much of their private world with me.


I’ve returned to Xiamen several times since 2014, and I try to photograph the same women on each visit – capturing the tenderness they share, and the things that have changed or remained over time. Fortuitously, three of those I first photographed in Xiamen have since moved to Europe, allowing me the opportunity to continue portraying them. With each photographic session, external pressures fade away for a moment, and the bonds between us are further strengthened.”


Sarah Mei Herman holds a BA in Photography from The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and an MA in Fine Art Photography from London’s Royal College of Art. Her personal projects explore relationships, intimacy, loneliness, longing, and the human urge for physical proximity, often focusing on the vulnerability of transitory life stages.


Herman’s work has been exhibited internationally, at institutions and festivals such as The National Portrait Gallery, London; The Benaki Museum, Athens; Photo Elysée, Lausanne; Le Château d’Eau, Toulouse; The Jewish History Museum, Amsterdam; and the JIMEI x ARLES International Photo Festival, Xiamen. Her projects have been recognised by a range of prizes and awards, including the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, the Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography, and the V&A Parasol Women in Photography Prize. Her work is found in several public and private art collections, whilst her images have been published by the likes of iD, Vogue Italia, Foam Magazine, Paper Journal and Dear Dave. In 2024, Herman’s second photo book – Julian & Jonathan – will be published by the London-based GOST Books.




Sarah Mei Herman – Young couple

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