Jennifer Chan is a Chinese Canadian and French documentary photographer based in Paris. After her Bachelor’s degree in business in Hong Kong, she studied at HEC (Hautes Etudes Commerciales) in France and worked as a trader and Financial Controller in Japan before pursuing research in the US. She graduated with a doctorate in international development at Stanford University in 2001 and completed her postdoc at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 2006. During her career as an academic in Vancouver, Canada, she published widely on the subjects of human rights, social movements, AIDS activism, global public health, and migration.

In 2007, she graduated from the Independent Filmmaking Program at the Gulf Island Film and Television School in Canada, and received the top Outstanding Achievement in Film Award at the Eyelens Festival as producer and director of her animated film, Day of Shame, about US military occupation in Okinawa. The following year, she completed a Black and White Photography course at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

In 2011, she met two Magnum photographers, Jonas Bendikson and Chien-Chi Chang, at a Moscow art gallery that would change the course of her life. Inspired by them to use visual storytelling to shed light on contemporary issues, she transitioned as a documentary photographer in 2017 and has not stopped traveling with her camera ever since. That summer, she partnered with two grassroots NGOs based in Beirut to work on portraits of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In 2018, she worked with ex-MSF Dr. Nicolas Durier on a Burmese migrant health insurance scheme along the Mekong delta as well as a drug user hepatitis project in Bangkok. In 2019, she went to the biggest refugee camp in the world in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, to take portraits of the Rohingya refugees. Since July 2020, she has been traveling and photographing full time in Africa and Europe, documenting life and transitions during the pandemic.

Her travels to 110+ countries occupy an important role in her practice as a photographer. Her works seek to cultivate connections between people of disparate cultural, social, economic, and religious backgrounds. Her first love in photography is portraiture, and context matters a great deal in her approach. She enjoys meeting total strangers, listening to their stories, and capturing fleeting life moments through an image. Or, in the words of William Carlos Williams in a review of Walker Evans’ photographs, everyone “made worthy in [her] anonymity.”

The projects and albums here include ongoing long-term series on protests, refugees, migrants  as well as thematic works on portraiture, travels, architecture, windows and doors, and minimalism. Having lived, worked, and traveled in so many different countries and being trained in sociology, she is particularly sensitive to complex, hybrid cultural identities and issues of power and representation in image-making. She is an avid reader. Books animate her imagination and open her eyes to vast geographical and psychological continents. 

Life on the road has taught her all the most important lessons, and photography has given her a second life, to start anew, with each image, always connected to the present moment. 

All Content © 2023 by Jennifer Chan