A big bunch of posers …

The Chinese love their cameras.  In a country where conspicuous consumption is catching on like nobody’s business, yet houses and cars are still out of reach of most people, smaller consumer objects are the best means to display your personal wealth.  So, it’s down to clothing and fashion accessories, electronic gadgets and the not-so-humble camera … a constant sight is the latest Canon or Nikon (the only brands worth buying, it seems), with hugely-oversized lens attached, slung casually around neck or from shoulder.  I’m sure there are loads of great photographers here, but given the overt posturing that occurs during the actual act of photography, I reckon it is the object, rather than the outcome, that people are focused on.

People also love to be in front of the camera, and there is always an event or building or object to act as a backdrop.  This year is the 90th anniversary of the forming of the Communist Party of China, and the location of the original meeting (a small complex of buildings in the middle of city) is usually ringed by groups of proud nationalists, assembling in small groups for their portrait.

   

It was also Expo year in Shanghai, and the event’s blue mascot (click here for more Haibao love) was a constant presence in the city, drawing in children and adults alike. 

Shanghai’s ever-evolving skyline is also a favourite place to converge for some camera display.

As are the city’s historic sites, where there is much less of the interpretative analysis going on, and much more of the positioning, grinning and victory-signing.

    

I think a lot of the public art around (in addition to celebrating the achievements of the noble, yet unrewarded, worker) is designed for the photo opportunity.

Whether through their own choice, or by coercion, or perhaps it gets hard to tell the distinction between the two … kids are usually front-and-centre of the photographic experience.  These girls seemed to be willing to stand in a somewhat odd position for an extended time while Dad reeled off a dozen shots.

As did this poor little one.  I was relieved when she eventually moved, demonstrating that she did not have some terrible leg deformity, just a quirky sense of what constitutes the correct way to pose for a photo.  Maybe from the camera’s perspective, it looked normal.  Or maybe, when she saw the photo, she too wondered what the heck she was doing.  An important moment in self-reflection, no doubt.

    

And perhaps, good training for that special day (or week), where she would undertake the greatest camera test of all (and I must admit, one of my favourite things to see), the wedding photos.  Everyone here does it.  After weeks of preparation (selecting the photographer and shooting locations, crash dieting and surgical removal of facial moles), the lucky couple spend hours moving between locations (with photographer and two assistants in tow), posing in a variety of costumes (traditional, sassy, serious, bordello-chic), and with a variety of expressions (happy, fun, sexy, relieved), then spend thousands more on post-production (photoshopping out any blemishes that the surgery couldn’t deal with, brightening skin tone and eye colour, slimming down thighs and jawlines) and packaging the while lot into a professional photo album.  The photos are always amazing, but its often hard to recognise the actual couple in the photos. 

It all happens days, if not weeks, before the wedding.  So, it’s probably the safest guarantee for the couple … with that kind of financial and emotional investment, you’re unlikely to do a runner on the big day.  And, through the intense concentration and likely boredom, you might that together, you can get through any challenge that lies ahead.

 

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