China-Shanghai22-PeopleAtPlay-feat

Workers’ Playtime

8,008 km so far.

This morning’s photo assignment, People At Play, was a tough one for me. You see, I hate to photograph people. Actually, that’s not true. I love taking photos of people I know, but I hate taking photos of strangers.

It makes me feel intrusive and uncomfortable; I just don’t like sticking my lens into other people’s private moments. Incidentally, this is the same reason I didn’t become a journalist after finishing journalism school: too much probing.

This discomfort makes me flustered in the moment, leading to messy, out of focus, and poorly composed photos.

But, since photos are almost always more interesting and more vibrant with people in them, I really want to get over this phobia. When I grow up I want to be like my friends Rachel and Jo, who both take amazing pictures of people.

Practice makes perfect, or, as Stephen would say, effort is effective. So this morning I put in some effort.

People At Play

It is a sunny Saturday, and I was pleased to find that Zhongshan Park, which is a short walk from where we are staying, was swarmed with people out enjoying their days off.

The Chinese have many more ways to have fun in the park than we do back home.

There were lots of people practicing martial arts and doing Tai Chi.

Morning Tai Chi, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Morning Tai Chi, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

There were men playing heated games of Jiànzi, but sadly, despite my best efforts, I didn’t get a decent picture of the action.

Small children were running and playing everywhere.

Monumental, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Monumental, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

I could not get a good shot of these two girls playing with their ribbons, but they were so cute, I wanted to share them with you anyway.

Working the ribbon, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Working the ribbon, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Men were flying kites so high in the air, you could barely make out the colourful wings swooping through the clouds. Balloons were also a hot item today.

I ♥ balloons, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

I ♥ balloons, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Grandfathers are a big deal here, and it’s pretty common to see Grandpa out with the grandkids for a play day.

Granddad's balloon, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Granddad’s balloon, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Ballroom dancing is practically the national pastime. There were so many couples out today that I couldn’t even keep count.

Pro and dancer in training, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Pro and dancer in training, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

This woman had no need of a partner – she was loving every second of her solo dance.

Free spirit, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Free spirit, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

For some, the dance is a more serious business.

Serious moves, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Serious moves, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

The park has a dedicated Mah Jong area, where the play looks downright momentous.

Keen observer, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Keen observer, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Even on a day off in the park, elegance is indispensable for many of the older generation of Shanghainese.

Elegance at the Mah Jong table, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Elegance at the Mah Jong table, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

It’s not limited to the elders though. Men and women of all ages turn themselves out immaculately in Shanghai.

Carousel dream, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Carousel dream, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

A slightly more riotous brand of fun was available too, at the Zhongshan mini amusement park.

Whoooa, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Whoooa, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

This ride might have been pedal-powered and seemed to be of a different era altogether.

Tree-top tracks, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Tree-top tracks, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Moments of tranquility are also easy to find in Zhongshan Park. People play traditional Chinese music in tiny pavilions, take strolls over stone bridges and along winding paths, or just enjoy the view.

Enjoy the silence, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

Enjoy the silence, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, People At Play photo exercise.

If you visit China, I highly recommend going to a local park on a Saturday morning. I can’t think of a better place to experience Chinese culture at its best.  

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2 Comments

  1. […] it would be hard for me to be more of a Western outsider tourist here, and that, combined with my dislike of probing, make the chances […]

  2. Cassie says:

    Very nice very nice :)