Living in Shanghai and being a Chinese photographer already is a diversity. The different cultures and nations mixed in Shanghai makes it one of the most interesting and versatile cities to discover photography. Either you walk in the back alleys where you meet the old Shanghaineese and migrant workers, visit the tourist spots or one of the streets where Shanghai’s foreigners meet up you will always find something to capture.
Shanghai has the ability to love it and hate it at the same time. Seeing all sides of it and it’s diversity of migrant workers, disliked by the Shanghaineese, foreigners trying to get involved into the daily life of Shanghai, elderly people staying at home and got forgotten or taking care of the grandkids so that their parents can go to work, rich and poor, black and white, sunny and rainy.
“Across the USA, I have photographed with ideas in my mind: to portray Americans as they live at present. Their everyday and their Sunday, their realism and dream. The look of their cities and towns.” Robert Frank, 1956.
I have taken photographs for a little bit more than two years and started out with a Nikon D800. Last year in November I tried a Leica for the first time and fell in love with it. Surely, I had to sell my Nikon and buy a Leica for myself. I never leave home without one of my cameras as I will never know when I will find the perfect photo and it’s better to shoot everyday than only once or twice per week. Recently, I use the Leica M-P with 50mm Noctilux, 35mm Summilux, Tri Elmar 16-18-21 or the Leica SL, which I mainly bought for rainy days as I want to capture without thinking that my camera may get wet; the SL is perfect for it. But my favorite is definitely still the Leica M-P with 50mm Noctilux for its pure handling.
I step out of my door from home and find myself directly in the old Shanghai area called Long Tang, close to YuYuan Garden with its small back alleys. I see the elderly people chatting, working, playing and loudly discussing over small irrelevant things and try to capture the moment of their impressions on their faces. I got shout at when taking photos of them, got invited, got stared at, but it’s worth to continue and respect the fact that some of my photos take time. Waiting for the right person to come around the corner (literally).
Visiting the famous Bund Side in Shanghai you will meet both foreigners and Chinese. Tourists trying to blend in in their own way, but if they will ever blend into this is a question unanswered. I see how they enjoy their lives in Shanghai. It seems to be like everyone does in big cities, no matter if they feel happiness, sad, frustrated or chasing their dreams. It’s best to see it in a rainy day of a Saturday morning. The Bund Side is a mix of world famous restaurants, hotels and glamorous shops. Step behind all of this and you will find yourself in small narrow roads serving the locals and foreigners alike. A truly diverse city indeed.
To know more about Lin Na’s work, please visit her website.