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...
French with Chinese origins, Shi Ye @yeshinobi was born in Wenzhou, then grew up and lived his whole life in France, before moving to Shanghai in 2012. He started his career working for an engraving machines company, but gradually changed paths and dedicated himself to photography.
How did you get into photography?
Photography has always been a passion of mine. When I was a child, my father’s friend was passionate about photography, and she used to teach me how to manipulate a camera. I was always very curious about it considering we also had a camera of our own at home.
My career had nothing to do with photography. However, I gained more interested in it after I moved to China, and dedicated myself to it.
How do you choose where to shoot?
I prefer to shoot in places that people haven’t seen, especially abandoned places, deserted areas and vast landscapes.
To find these places, I browse a lot on social media and get inspiration from other photographers and bloggers.
I also like to shoot people’s day to day life. For that, I just wander in the city and something captivating always comes up.
What do you look for in a photograph?
Firstly, I try to give sense to the photo and seek for a meaning, because a good photograph must tell a story.
I also try to find original angles that bring out the perspective of the place I’m shooting. I often play around with the different angles in order to capture an original photograph with an angle that may not have been seen before.
Favorite places in Shanghai to shoot?
I don't have a favorite place in particular in Shanghai. All new places are the right places to discover and to be captured.
If I had to choose a place, it would be the former slaughterhouse 1933, because of its architecture. I really like the structure of the place. Considering it is entirely built with concrete, it gives an ancient and original touch to the photo.
And outside Shanghai?
I often shoot in the city of Wenzhou, because it’s my hometown. I return several times a year and always take the opportunity to visit its surroundings.
Although it isn’t a big city, I think that its countryside hides many beautiful places that should be discovered.
How is the Instagram community in Shanghai?
The Instagram community in Shanghai is not as big as it could have been. Part of the reason is the internet restrictions in China, considering that not everyone can access this network.
Shanghai has many talented photographers, but most of them post on Chinese networks such as Xiao Hong Shu 小红书 or Mepai 米拍摄影.
What advice would you give someone trying to build up an Instagram account?
Perseverance: keep taking and posting photos. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep a coherent feed, with the same shades of color or the same theme.
I realized that my account was not as clean and as organized as I wanted it to be; part of it was just because I would post all kinds of photographs.
Here, Shi Ye introduces some of his favorite shots:
“This is one of my favorite photos. I was in the right place at the right time. I love the contrast between the luxury of the Peace Hotel and the migrant worker.”
“Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-La. This young monk turned around to look at me when I took the picture.”
“Shanghai in the mist. The weather was not so good that day. As I had my drone with me, I launched it without any expectation. Sometimes we can have good surprises.”
“Nanpu Bridge taken from a rooftop. This was taken at the end of the day and we can clearly see the sun rays piercing through the sky.”
“The abandoned American Dream Park in Shanghai. My friends posed for me in tribute to The Walking Dead. I also wanted to play with perspective and lights, hence the symmetry and width.”
“The Hakone torii gate in Japan very early in the morning when the tourists had not yet arrived. It fully captures the mirror-like reflection of the lake and it creates this panoramic view.”
“A drone shot of the Suzhou Gate of the Orient. I took it during sunrise when the colors of the sun really compliment the panorama.”
“Taken during the lockdown. There were hardly any people in the streets. A great opportunity to take unseen photos.”
“Another taken during the lockdown, on the usually busy Waibaidu Bridge.”
“I took this shot at the World Expo Museum, which I have been to several times. I particularly like this shot because the angle brings out the structure and perspective of the construction.”
“At the World Expo Museum.”
“A drone shot of the Emerald Lake in Qinghai. I was not very lucky when I went there because the weather wasn’t very good. However, I still managed to capture the beauty of these salt lakes.”
“The former slaughterhouse, 1933. One of my favorite places to shoot.”
“An abandoned, ruined train located in Qingpu District.”
“Shanghai World Financial Center side view. I had not flown much in Shanghai, because there are already so many amazing drone pictures of the city. But since I got my Mavic 3, every time I go in town I bring it with me. This time I launched it from a parking lot near the ancient pier 老码头. SWFC was just in front of me.”
“Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and the Yangpu Bridge in the background.”
“Drone view of Ze Ya barrage, Zhejiang. Ze Ya is famous for its farmhouse restaurants 农家乐. After lunch, I heard there was a dam nearby, and I did not hesitate to go there.”
“Sanyang Wetland Park, Wenzhou. It’s a park in the suburbs of Wenzhou full of cedars. November is the best time to take pictures there.”
“Guardian of Jing'an Temple. Every time I go to my dentist I pass through this crosswalk. And I notice there is always a policeman conducting traffic in the middle of the street. That day I took my wide angle, and I shot this photo.”
“Ai Chang Museum. My friend just bought this costume and the laser saber. And we found this amazing place made for it.”
“Ai Chang Museum. This is a newly opened museum, a little bit far from the city center. That’s why there aren't many people.”
“Sunrise in Wenzhou. This is the view from my apartment in Wenzhou. When I was there, I would wake up at 6am every day to see if there was something to shoot.”
“Guo Mao Tower, Wenzhou. What is good about having a balcony is that you can launch your drone at any time. It’s what I did one Sunday morning.”
“Landing pad, Wenzhou. The landing pad is on a newly built panoramic platform. Usually it’s crowded. That’s why I went there at 6am to take this picture.”
Follow Shi Ye on Instagram @yeshinobi
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Hashtag your photos #thatsshanghai for a chance to be regrammed by us, and maybe even be featured in this series.
[All images courtesy of Shi Ye/@yeshinobi]