||The research of visual culture has received increasing attention in recent years. As a form of visual practice, photography has been given much attention because of its complexity and specificity. Currently, there exists a strong trend towards the discussion of photography in the context of the colonial and post-colonial periods. Many studies of Western photographers’ practices in colonial Africa or Asia have been done, but how they traveled in and pictured China has not systematically been investigated. As a preliminary attempt, this thesis focuses on three Western photographers, John Thomson, Leone Nani, and Sydney D. Gamble, who traveled to China with a camera and made numerous pictures there from the mid-1800s to the late 1930s, a period that decisively shaped a modern China. In analysis of their photographic works I intend to explore the complex relationships between image, technology, aesthetics, and ideology with interdisciplinary approach, across the fields of ethnology, sociology, psychology, intellectual and art history. My thesis will demonstrate how photography multiply functioned in their practices: photography was used not only as a tool to manage, express and even construct an imagined colony, but also as a carrier of epochal ideology and their own egoistic propensities and aesthetic tastes.