Here’s how the That’s Shanghai @thatsshanghai Instagram account works: users hashtag their images #thatsshanghai and we pick out the best of them to regram, tagging the original photographer.
In the process, we found ourselves reposting some absolutely stunning photos of the city and beyond. And, the more we did it, the more we noticed we were regramming photos from – and tagging – the same accounts over and over again.
So we decided to reach out to these Instagrammers of Shanghai to learn a little bit more about them and their methods. And, of course, share their incredible work...
Shanghainese Jasmine @jasmineyang1116 is a 3D game design director, making models for games and in charge of communications with her Japanese parent company. During the pandemic, she got into photography and Instagram, with some quite spectacular results.
How did you get into photography?
My friend invited me to a Shanghai photography WeChat group last year. It was during the pandemic, and I couldn’t travel overseas, so it was a good time to learn something new. And I also love photography; we had photography lessons in university too.
How do you choose where to shoot?
I browse online to check out photos and locations I like. Then I go there and explore different perspectives.
What do you look for in a photograph?
I was into street photography before, and I still love it, but it was too stressful getting close to people to shoot. So I started taking photos of landscapes.
It’s more relaxing and I’m happy I can get beautiful photos. I also can share them with my friends on Instagram.
At the end of the day, that’s why we’re on Instagram; exploring the world through each other’s eyes.
Which is your favorite place in Shanghai to shoot?
Lujiazui. The four iconic high buildings make it an amazing spot to get drone photos, especially with our mother river, the Huangpu.
I also love Chenghuang Temple. You can see Lujiazui behind it; there is something about the combination of ancient Chinese architecture and modern buildings. I also loved Laoximen, but unfortunately it’s been demolished.
And outside of Shanghai?
Honestly, since I started learning photography I’ve only been to Beijing, Chongqing, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia, Guizhou and Xiapu.
Of these places, I love Guizhou and Chongqing the most. There is the Miao ethnic group in Guizhou; their ethnic costumes are beautiful, and their architecture is very interesting too.
I love Chongqing because the city is built on mountains. They have a complicated terrain, which makes for very interesting photos.
How is the Instagram community in Shanghai and China?
I have many photographer group friends in Shanghai; we go on excursions to take photos together and post them on Instagram, which is a motivation for us.
For me, I love Instagram because I can see people’s reactions; everybody has a personal preference, but if not many people like it, then you need to work more on your photo.
I also made some new photographer friends on Instagram; we’re like family, everybody knows each other, and we support each other.
What advice would you give someone trying to build up an Instagram account?
Get a name people easily remember. When you post a photo, don’t forget to tag big public accounts in China and use hashtags as much as possible.
If you could shoot one place you have not yet been to, where would it be?
I hope I can have a road trip from Sichuan to Tibet. The area has the most beautiful and unique natural scenery and rich culture.
Here Jasmine introduces some of her favorite shots:
“I got up at 4am to take drone photos, but when I left home I couldn’t see any clouds. I was kind of disappointed, but when the sky got brighter and the sun rose, the clouds were so beautiful. You never know what the future holds, so just do your best.”
“Chenghuang Temple in Shanghai has a long history; it was built in the Ming Dynasty, about 600 years ago. Over the years, the area got built up, including shops and restaurants. This was the first time I went there to fly my drone. l’m happy that I found this place and got a different perspective from other people’s photos.”
“Zhujiajiao is a famous water town in Shanghai. This photo was taken during the National Holiday. There were many restaurants along the river; people were having diner, slowing down their pace and enjoying the holiday. I love to enlarge this photo to see what everyone was doing. It’s quite interesting.”
“You can see a helipad in the photo – it's on the rooftop of Magnolia Plaza. It's a good spot to shoot the Bund and Lujiazui, well known among the photographers in Shanghai, but not easy to get in. Hopefully I can go there one day!”
“I went to fly at Nanpu Bridge just last week! I was nervous when the drone first took off, because I knew I would land it manually this time. But when the drone went higher, and I saw the Huangpu River, I was so excited because it was a scene l’d never seen before – too beautiful. At that moment, I was not nervous at all and just flew higher and higher, enjoying the flight. Sadly, it was too bright and I didn't take an ND filter with me. I'll definitely return there!”
“I shot this at the beginning of December. I only got my drone in September, so this was the first time I could finally capture some autumn vibes. This plane is a first model of a Chinese warplane; since retiring it, they put it in Dongping National Forest Park on Chongming Island. It is so beautiful amongst the red metasequoia, or dawn redwoods; like a sleeping baby. I’m happy I finally got a nice autumnal shot.”
“This photo was taken from a rooftop during summer. There were no clouds in the sky, so I used a tool to reduce the grains, trying to make it clear and look like an architectural rendering.”
“The Westin Hotel has several nicknames. We call it ‘Pineapple Head,’ because the top of the building looks like a pineapple. We also call it the ‘Golden Shine of the Bund’ because when night falls, the yellow lights of the crown are turned on. It gives people hope!”
“I felt this corner of Jing'an Temple was very beautiful when I passed by down a small alley. I didn't have my camera with me at the time, so I shot with my phone and then went to shoot again with camera. Beauty is everywhere and it's important to discover it; appreciating the beauty around can make your life better.”
“Sunset over Lujiazui. The sunshine spread to the buildings, giving me a warm feeling during such a cold winter.”
“I went to a Germany Christmas market near Zhapu Bridge, so stopped on the bridge to take drone photos when I was passing by. It was getting cold in Shanghai, but the sunshine gave me warm feelings, and I love the soft light in winter.”
“During the pandemic it was not easy to get out of Shanghai. So, if you want to change your mood, Guangfulin Heritage Park can be a good option!”
“I went to shoot tai chi practitioners on the Bund at 5am. They are there every day. I love their persistence!”
“Wulong in Chongqing, where they filmed Transformers 4. Marvelous!”
“Jiaotong Tea House in Chongqing. Chinese chess is an important part of Chinese traditional culture. I found these chess players in this tea house. You can feel everybody was thinking hard. The old man in the center smoking – I love his gesture. And I love his traditional hat and coat as well.”
“Inner Mongolia. It was the first time I’d been to such a cold place. It was -20 degrees, and my camera froze several times. My favorite game there was throwing hot water into the air to see it become ice then fall down. I love this photo because it captures the motion of the horses as well as the rider. I also love the snow rising up from the ground and the red cloth popping from the cold tones.”
“I went to Xiapu in Fujian Province to take photos. But it was rainy, I couldn’t get good lighting. So I decided to go with black and white. It works. I like the simple style as well.”
“Suzhou has a nickname: the back garden of Shanghai. My friend Andi (to check out his work, click here) organized a trip to there to take drone photos; there is a lot of stunning natural scenery and beautiful temples in Suzhou. This one is Guanyin Dashige of Chongyuan Temple. From the ground, all I could see was a temple. But when the drone flew up, I saw the lotus – I love the perfect symmetry!”
Follow Jasmine on Instagram @jasmineyang1116
Follow That’s Shanghai on Instagram @thatsshanghai
Hashtag your photos #thatsshanghai for a chance to be regrammed by us, and maybe even be featured in this series.
[All images courtesy of Jasmine/@jasmineyang1116]