Justin J Wee

Editorial: A Daring Dream and a Lifelong Love, Dashed in a Moment of Violence for The New York Times

Image by Justin J Wee showing Mr Gao in his kitchen holding a cigarette in one hand and drinking from a bowl held in the other hand

Justin J Wee shot these images for a New York Times editorial by Corina Knoll. The piece recounted the tragic experience of GuiYing Ma and her husband Zhanxin Gao, who relocated to Queens, New York, from their home in Fushin, in northeastern China. The pair, both aged 56, hoped to earn enough money to support their son and grandchildren at home. Four years after their move, Ma was attacked by a stranger in the street and spent ten weeks in a coma before dying.

Wee’s photos recount the aftermath, showing Gao eating alone, smoking in his kitchen and hard at work, as well as documenting the objects Ma left behind and moments from her funeral. His photos speak to the bond between the pair and, poignantly, of Gao’s subsequent loneliness.

Image by Justin J Wee showing Mr Gao smoking a cigarette held over his kitchen sink
Image by Justin J Wee showing Mr Gao carrying clean oil grates at his job
Image by Justin J Wee showing a biohazard bag in a drawer containing hair ties