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Old Posted Apr 6, 2016, 7:19 AM
Lex Lex is offline
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First visit to China - which cities to visit?


I am a architectural/street photographer currently traveling through Asia.

In about a month I will be heading to HK to get a Chinese Visa, then on to China for about 2 months. I had planned on spending a few weeks in Shanghai and then Beijing.

Now I'm wondering if Shanghai is really my best choice. I don't care about the usual tourist stuff like luxury shopping or colonial architecture. I'm wanting to photograph the gritty, industrial China. I do of course want the great modern skyscrapers but also the interesting street life, factories etc.

Would I be better off in places like Guangzhou or Shenzhen?
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Old Posted Jun 30, 2016, 7:06 PM
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esquire esquire is offline
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Which cities did you end up visiting?

The top tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai are great, but they aren't exactly representative of the rest of the country, in much the same way that NYC is somewhat alien relative to most other US cities.

I'd have suggested going beyond the lesser tier 1 cities like Shenzhen or Guangzhou and going into some tier 2 cities like Chongqing and Wuxi.
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Old Posted Aug 2, 2016, 10:57 AM
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SmilingCat SmilingCat is offline
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Guangzhou has the best skylscraper in Chinese cities. I'm not bragging, it's even better than Shanghai.

And Shenzhen is also good

If you think China's first tier cities have seen and want to go to second tier cities, I recommend Chongqing, she is a beautiful mountain city

Everyday is sunny if you're safe and happiness.
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Old Posted Aug 2, 2016, 3:19 PM
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MolsonExport MolsonExport is offline
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I'd also recommend Suzhou and nearby Wuxi. Very accessible (20-45 minute train ride) from Shanghai.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. (Bertrand Russell)
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Old Posted Mar 4, 2024, 11:38 AM
Pelewglync Pelewglync is offline
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What cities did you end up visiting in China, and did you find the gritty, industrial scenes you were looking for in your photography journey?
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Old Posted Mar 4, 2024, 4:02 PM
davidinasia davidinasia is offline
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Originally Posted by Lex View Post
I'm wanting to photograph the gritty, industrial China.
Don't go to Shanghai for that. I lived there several years in 00s, during that time, the government systematically cleared out older districts for new development. Almost the entire downtown is redeveloped now and a lot of the outlying areas, which had been industrial, have already been redeveloped into condos, shopping centers, etc. The industry around Shanghai is mostly light and has moved to surrounding provinces like Jiangsu and Zhejiang. For heavy industry you want to go to the coal country and places like Heilongjiang.

This aspect of Chinese life is actually hard to locate in the areas where foreigners typically go, and you may find that you encounter hostility if you try to photograph it. Chinese will assume that you are trying to photograph ugly aspects of their country in order to make negative propaganda. No, I'm not joking, they will actually think that.

You might be able to get into some heavy industry places by posing as a rich foreign businessman interested in their products; trust me, all those places love selling stuff to foreigners, but that would take some balls. If I were you I would go to an industrial area and network, meet some local people, try to find other photographers with similar interests and see if they can get you in to some likely places. Everything in China is accomplished by personal networking (guanxi).
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