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...
Frenchman Remi @yo.remi has been living in Shanghai for four years now. Working as a digital business partner for a pharmaceutical company, he does photography as a passion and freelancing.
How did you get into photography?
I started photography one year after coming to China. I first wanted to document my travels and capture my surroundings, then it became such a real passion that I’m addicted to it.
How do you choose where to shoot?
For all travels, I plan specific times and locations for photography in addition to pure traveling activities. For street, I follow whatever attracts my eyes and follow my instinct.
Also, sometimes I start from a well known spot and then walk all around to more unknown places and get lost. This helps to get new perspectives and discover new things and try to capture something different from the masses.
What do you look for in a photograph?
Photography is all about emotions. Each photo must bring some emotions; either wanting to visit a beautiful place or know more about a specific culture by highlighting people themselves.
Favorite place to shoot in Shanghai?
I like the area around People Square; it’s full of diversity which for me represents Shanghai the best. There, you have a touristy perspective, with very modern architectures and a main walking street.
At the same time, you’ll find many traditional Shanghainese and Chinese alleys all around that are less modern nor fancy, but very authentic and full of pure moments of life.
And outside of Shanghai?
So far, I would say Nanjing is another favorite of mine. This city is amazing; full of interesting places with lots of history behind them. On top of that, the people are very kind and open, which always makes it more pleasant.
How is the Instagram community in Shanghai?
Very friendly; it’s a lot of sharing without much competition. Everyone is very kind and ready to share and exchange with anyone, regardless of how many followers they have.
There are quite a lot of WeChat groups with people from Instagram and people are engaged every single day. It’s amazing to see people discussing photography topics, learning from each other and trying to grow together.
What advice would you give someone trying to build up an Instagram account?
The main point is doing what you love and not what is the most popular. Being authentic is very key; even if not doing what is the most popular will make you grow slower, it’ll bring you more engaged followers which will have way more value and will bring you way more opportunities.
Also, let’s not forget that Instagram is a social media and the core is to engage with your community. It’s all about people, it’s all about building a connection, not just getting likes from people you don't know that will not care about your content or artistic approach.
If you could shoot place have not yet, where would it be?
I would really love to go to Gansu. I have been planning to go there for more than a year, but unfortunately haven’t been able to book enough days off to have a real road trip there.
I don’t want to rush it; I really want to take the time to visit and discover it properly and bring back amazing photographs. I’m curious about the culture and way of living there, as well as local traditions. I would like to discover those amazing landscapes.
Here, Remi introduces some of his favorite shots:
“Classic Bund shot that always brings joy. Taken at sunset, during a sunny winter's day. The simplicity of the composition, the smoothness of the colors and for the ones that noticed it, the construction work that reveals the shape of a blue man on the left, makes it quite unique.”
“One of the objectives of photographers is to bring new perspectives. The idea here was to use this beautiful new architecture to frame the Shanghai Tower. This leads your eyes to the Bund, as many streets in Shanghai end near the Huangpu River.”
“Before everybody wakes up, before things are going crazy all around us, let’s take a deep breath while the sun is rising. Here, the sun is warming up all of Shanghai, starting from the Bund, and, step by step, people are starting their own day.”
“Shanghai is very dynamic; things are going fast. This shot is showing the speed that goes through People Square, which is a very crowded walking street. Everything going fast around you, everything is moving; even when you are having a chill walking and shopping day. The watch also reminds that time flies and everything is controlled by time.”
“Jing’an temple was the first spot I visited once I arrived in Shanghai. I don’t really go there a lot, even if I’m working nearby, but it’s definitely a fantastic place with a lot of things happening all around. I tried to capture it through a different angle to bring another perspective and curiosity to the viewer.”
“Captured in 2021 at Yu Garden in Shanghai, this photo highlights the greatness of the Chinese traditional architecture of this area, with one person going through to provide a sense of the scale of the building, as well as providing another perspective of Yu Garden with way less people than usual.”
“While walking through Fuxing Park in 2020, I ended up watching people playing Chinese chess. It's always an amazing experience, with two main players and 10 or more other people watching all around. Everybody is talking, everybody is friendly, everybody is having a good time. Here, I wanted to highlight the playing part and show a traditional game that is still played nowadays.”
“Shot near People Square. One of my favorite things while doing street photography is to not stick to main spots but go all around and explore the hidden streets behind. While walking through a small alley, I met this craftsman working late at night. It was very dark outside and very dark inside his shop, but his face and his work was beautifully highlighted by the desk lamp.”
“I really like to highlight people that most of other persons would not even care about. But these people are key to society. These workers are at the heart of city life. I really like to put the light on them through an artistic perspective; they deserve way more care. The light here was completely reflecting my idea – with the light right on the worker.”
“Shot in the winter of 2020, this worker entered the shop very tired from a morning of work. It seemed like he was a frequent customer to this shop, as per all the smiles shared with the owner. He finally sat down outside, with a very hot soup, which brought him much comfort and might have given him enough energy to start the other half of the work day.”
“I went again to Nanjing in 2021 and finally decided to go on top of the mountain to have a scenic view of the city. A very peaceful sunset happened, with unique colors that I honestly didn't expect. It was a wonderful moment where you can see the city moving slowly from daytime to nightlife.”
“This location in Nanjing is very unique and mind-blowing. It's a whole experience by itself, not just another place to visit a pagoda, but way more than that. I went the against the touristic flows to capture another perspective, with the Pagoda reflecting into the water, as well as the architecture all around the main temple. I really like the contrast of the two different styles of architecture.”
“During a trip to Sanya in 2020, I didn’t just want to capture the fancy hotels and activities we all know about, but the real life of the local people as well. I woke up very early to catch the sunrise, and I ended up being alone on the beach with this fisherman. I was enjoying my passion for photography and he was also enjoying his own passion. It was a very peaceful moment, and provides another perspective of this touristy place.”
“I went to Chongqing in 2020, and was very amazed by this city. As with many big cities in China, nice and big bridges connect different parts. I was sitting in a quiet area of the city, looking at the modern part, with only this bridge separating us. The sunset came in and a beautiful cityscape appeared right in front of me.”
“In Yanji, North China. The wet market there is very well known. It has almost everything! This photo showcases the atmosphere in these markets. People are cold because of a lack of insulation in the market, no real doors, smoke all around due to the many cooking shops with all the sellers next to each other… It's full of life!”
“Shanghai opened a new path near The Bund. I went to explore it to capture another perspective of Lujiazui. It was a very sunny morning, but within 30 minutes the clouds came in. I captured this dramatic scene, with a leading line from the hand rail, as well as the small panda structure on the water saying 'Hi' to the other side of the city.”
“During a trip to Enshi in 2020, doing very tiring hiking to the top of a mountain, we suddenly looked down and saw this resting area of traditional architecture on the edge of another mountain. The sun was highlighting only the edge of the mountain and all behind it was shadow. It was like the sun was pointing out our next stop to take a break.”
“Captured from my hotel in Chongqing in 2020, I was looking at the cityscape, enjoying my vacation, when I suddenly saw these workers cleaning the tower, 50 floors from the ground. They are real life Spider-Men, working and climbing the city's skyline without fear; risking their life to make our own better! They were moving very fast, without any hesitations.”
Follow Remi on Instagram @yo.remi
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 Remifirstname.lastname@example.org]