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...
How did you get into photography?
I bought my first Reflex camera when I was 18 because I was traveling a lot, but I really got addicted to landscape and cityscape photography 10 years ago when I purchased my first DSLR.
How do you choose where to shoot?
I am a world traveler and an urban explorer; I like to discover gems within the city and think outside the box. Photos need to have a meaning to me; every one of my photos has a personal story.
What do you look for in a photograph?
For cityscapes, I like to shoot at night when the city starts to shine and glow. For landscapes, I love to shoot during sunrise. Light is the most important part of photography.
What is your favorite place in Shanghai to shoot?
Lujiazui and the Bund are a couple of my favorite places for night shooting.
And outside of Shanghai?
If I go out of Shanghai, I try to go in the mountains. Landscape is definitely my favorite type of photography, but I don’t have enough time for traveling.
How is the Instagram community in Shanghai and China?
I think it’s a great community! I often connect with new IG people – especially when I’m traveling to a place in China I’ve never visited before – to get information and interesting locations. And I’m very happy to help others who connect with me when they are looking for new spots to shoot in Shanghai.
What advice would you give someone trying to build up an Instagram account?
I’m not sure how the algorithm works on IG, but what I did was build a weekly schedule; you need to find your own theme and post the photos that match so your new followers will stick with you.
If you could shoot one place you have not yet been to, where would it be?
The Yellow Mountains during winter. That was the first time I fell in love with China – because of a photo I saw of the Yellow Mountains before I had ever even come to the country.
Here Mike introduces some of his favorite shots:
“This photo looks like an open anthill to me. When you look closely, you can see the size of the workers inside. It gives you a scale of the building.”
“I shot this photo during early days of the COVID epidemic when streets were still quiet. It is usually a very complicated place to shoot because it has become such an Instagram photo attraction and is always crowded.”
Lujiazui at Night
“I’ve shot Lujiazui sooooooo many times! But to be able to shoot it during a perfect dark night without any clouds and with the last cruise passing by was awesome.”
“It was my first time to use this technique call ICM (intentional camera movement) during a shoot at sunrise, and it turned out to be one of my favorite photos yet.”
“This is what I enjoy the most in photography – being alone at 5am and shooting people that are starting work. It is calm and so peaceful.”
“Chongqing is one of my favorite cities to shoot. I went back there this summer. The colors are vibrant and there are colorful bridges everywhere. For this photo I was trying to enhance it using some Photoshop techniques.”
“This photo was shot during Chinese New Year 2020 in Yu Garden. Due to COVID, the place wasn’t crowded, but still, everything was open and tourists were shopping around.”
“I first came here three years ago, wanting to visit the place but unfortunately it was closed for a car doing commercial shooting. So I decided to shoot the exterior of the building and was really happy with the result. It is a very simple photo, but the reflection gives it another dimension.”
“Another popular place for photographers, Taikang Lu is a great place for shooting, especially during a rainy day.”
“It’s a very simple photo about a worker taking a break during a rainy day, but it’s one of those photos that tells you a story.”
Shanghai Contrast (1 & 2)
“I enjoy shooting the contrasts in the city. These two photos are all about the old buildings and the brand new ones. Unfortunately they are demolishing most of the old lanes…”
“I love when a photo tells a story. This photo was shot this year during the 7th anniversary of Union Trading Company, when Yao was behind the bar and our dear friend Austin was looking after him. Priceless.”
Follow Mike on Instagram @mikeonthebeach_sh
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 Mike/@mikeonthebeach_sh]