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...
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Andi @xxiamandixx has been living in Shanghai for the past 10 and a half years, and currently works in the import/export industry. A couple of years ago, he got his first drone. The rest, as they say, is history…
How did you get into photography?
Ever since I was young, I’ve had an interest in capturing moments. I was not good at all. But in the past two years, I have put more time into this passion and self-taught myself most of what I know. There’s a lot of trial and error involved with my photography. But the more I shoot, the more confident I get with my photography. More recently I have focused mainly on aerial photography as it allows me to be more creative with compositions.
How do you choose where to shoot?
Generally, I use satellite maps to firstly scout out an area I am visiting or I am interested in. If I find something that is worth looking into, I make time to visit and have a look around.
Another way I find location inspirations is to see what others are currently shooting. Then, I do some research on the web and see what locations might be good for a shoot. It’s not about going to capture the same photo as others, but rather to find my own interpretation of the location.
And sometimes I just get in the car and drive around and stop if I find something interesting.
What do you look for in a photograph?
I used to love finding symmetry in photography, but more recently I am trying to push myself to attempt different compositions or editing styles. Another thing I look for is the light conditions. I try to take photos when the light is softer – sunrise or sunset – as the end photo is usually more peaceful.
Which is your favorite place in Shanghai to shoot?
That’s a tough one. There are so many great places in Shanghai, but if I had to name one, it’s the Bund at sunrise. Watching the sun rise from behind Lujiazui never gets old.
And outside of Shanghai?
This is an even tougher question. Again, there are too many places I love visiting, but so many I have yet to explore. First place that comes to mind is Guilin. With vast karst landscapes in almost every direction you look, it truly is a special place in my heart. That said, it has become fairly commercial in recent years, so I would recommend visiting when it’s not peak season for travelers, and to explore lesser known areas.
How is the Instagram community in Shanghai and China?
I would call it a photography community. But Instagram is a great way to meet fellow photographers in Shanghai and beyond. The community is a hot pot of creative talent. From young students who are starting out on their photographic journey, to elderly citizens walking around Shanghai with their zoom lenses, Shanghai truly does have a large photographic community.
What advice would you give someone trying to build up an Instagram account?
Firstly, don’t stress about the numbers on your account! Post consistently, and make your Instagram account a portfolio of the work you love. Not everyone will love it, but slowly you will find your own cult following.
Another thing is to interact with other like-minded creatives on the platform; it’s a great way to make friends and find or give inspiration.
If you could shoot one place you have not yet been to, where would it be?
It would have to be the volcanoes in Inner Mongolia. I find the landscape so beautiful, and it changes from season to season. So I think it is going to be a few trips there before I am truly content.
Here Andi introduces some of his favorite shots:
“One of my first ever drone shots. At that time, most of what I could do was top-down photography. This photo was taken in Pudong at the old World Expo site.”
“Sunset at the Wujiaochang intersection. This photo was taken this year after I had driven past this ‘dome’ several times. After having a look at the satellite image on maps, I thought it would make an interesting photo.”
“I took a drive to Chongming Island in autumn to shoot the warm tones of the season. We had arrived at the tail end of the season and, although lots of the leaves had fallen, I was still able to capture some nice colors. In this shot, I edited it to represent the change in seasons.”
“One of those epic moments on the Bund during sunrise. Although there was a little haze around, I felt it brought a nice mood to the cityscape. Definitely not easy to get up that early, but it is well worth it.”
“One of my favorite shots from a trip to Guilin. It had rained just earlier and I thought my chances of capturing the sunset was gone. But just at the right moment, the rain stopped, and the clouds cleared. Just enough time for me to get this shot. A truly magical moment to witness.”
“Another early winter morning trying to capture the beauty of the Shanghai cityscape. This was the time I tried to capture the buildings from a slightly different perspective than I usually do, and I was fairly happy with the results.”
“It was my birthday, and I was out with my friends for a quick shoot before dinner. The sunset that day was epic! Love the photo I got, but more importantly the memories of that day – I still remember like it was yesterday.”
“Having slept outdoors with only a sleeping bag and my camera equipment, I was determined not to miss another opportunity to see the majesty of Mount Fuji. I woke up before sunrise and could not see anything in the distance; clouds covered the entire landscape. Instead of giving up, I thought I would send my drone up to have a look, and I was greeted with this sight. A truly memorable moment.”
“This was captured on a quick two-day trip to Hangzhou. It had been on my wish list for the past two years, but I missed the autumn season due to travel restrictions at that time. So when I got the chance to visit, I ensured a sunrise shoot. The best thing about shooting at sunrise is the lack of crowds… and I get to enjoy some peace and quiet.”
“One of the benefits of aerial photography is finding unique perspectives of everyday sights. This is a topdown shot of the Jinmao Tower in Pudong. I love how different it looks from above.”
“An older shot of when I used to do some urban exploration in Shanghai. This became pretty famous due to the way the buildings frame the Lujiazui towers.”
“This was captured by my friend whilst doing a little urban exploring through the back streets of the Bund. I don’t usually like being in photos, but on this occasion she got the better of me.”
Follow Andi on Instagram @xxiamandixx
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 Andi/@xxiamandixx]