We have this stereotypical thinking that all Asians love to take pictures, all the time, everywhere, of food, of buildings, of people. Well, it’s true, but I wouldn’t say that is strictly reserved for Asians… We all do it. Me included.
One thing used to freak me out for a while in China: Why do strangers want to take pictures of me? Yes, I am blonde, and a foreigner, maybe totally different looking from the average Chinese girl, but still.
I have got used to it, and couldn’t care less if a random stranger takes out his newest iPhone to snap a shot of me. Most people don’t mean bad, and if you smile at them, you can even start a conversation.
Today I decided to turn the game around. So I went out to the most populous place (or one of the most) in Shanghai: the Bund. You can find all sorts of people there! It’s amazing and it was an exciting experience.
I think photography is a powerful tool for showing what the world is like on a human level. It was my first time going out and taking pictures of strangers on purpose. I figured there are two ways of doing it: whether asking first and shooting last, or shooting first, and asking last (or never, depending on the situation).
The thing is if I see something interesting happening that might change if I stop to introduce myself, especially in China, I just snap a few frames and talk to the people later.
Today I ended up having a bunch of interesting conversations with all kinds of different people from different places in China. My goal was to take pictures of the Chinese people around me, but being a blonde foreign girl as I am… people still ended up taking more pictures of me and I must have ended up in quite a few photo albums.
It’s fine, though. And it is an exhilarating experience to just talk up strangers, especially in Chinese. A great language and social practice.
Here are a few shots from today. There are a few random ones which were just so peculiar that I couldn’t walk past, but also didn’t dare to ask for a direct shot (though they were screaming to be photographed!).
Did you ever go out and took pictures of totally strangers? Or did people you have never met taken pictures of you?
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