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Photographing in China


I’m a student who will be traveling to mainland China for two months and am looking for some advice from some of you who have traveled to China to photograph.

This will be the first time back in the country since my first visit as a child 12 years ago. I’m aware that the government is very keen on censorship and questionable towards foreign media.

I was born in the United States and my parents previously had Chinese citizenship but have renounced that citizenship and have had United States citizenship for quite a while.

Although I am a student, I’m studying to be a photojournalist, and I’m also worried that my educational background might trigger a few red flags as well.

I’ll be carrying my Canon 7D and about 3 lenses into the country. I’m thinking of bringing my laptop so that I can store my RAWs, etc.

If anyone has advice or would like to share personal experiences, I’d greatly appreciate it. It’ll help me not to make bad mistakes. Thanks!

by Enoch Wu at 2010-05-12 04:04:40 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

18 May 2010 00:05
I’ve found no problems in taking photos in China…the same normal care is needed as all over the world. In rural areas it’s usually enough to be polite and get in touch before shooting portraits…in case you plan a reportage I strongly racomend you to find a good fixer to help you on the field with translation and informations. there are plenty of young fixers that would cooperate with you as a chance to improve their English….good luck!

by Federico Caponi | 12 May 2010 08:05 | Warsaw, Poland | | Report spam→
PM’d you. Please reply to me at AlanSChin@yahoo.com or call me at 917 309-8866 if you have questions.

by [former member] | 13 May 2010 19:05 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
I have been in China for the last couple months and encounter no problem at all. In fact, the Chinese have better gear than I do. I put photographer as my occupation on my Visa application for the last few visits and they never refuse my application. I carry at least 2 bodies, 5-6 lens, flashes, 4 Pocket Wizards, laptop, 2 hard drives…… I agree with Federico, you do need a good LOCAL fixer to help you for translation. As they have so many different dialects. Last year I spend ten days in the mountain region of Yunnan try to document a story and couldn’t complete it because of language problem and I finish that project with the help of a local fixer in a week a month ago. So just have fun, Enoch, enjoy the experience!

You can check out a few of my work from China here:http://www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/s/mbb9kyq2ubt5buaw1v1w

by Sam Leung | 14 May 2010 03:05 | | Report spam→

Travelling and taking photos in china has caused me no problems in the last twenty years. If you are coveing anything sensitive thought you will want to make sure that you sort out permission with the local officials. But even in the weeks after the incident in Beijing in 1989 I had no problems walking around carrying a couple of cameras and shooting. Crime is pretty low too, so you can walk around without fear of being mugged. On one occasion in Chengdu, I left my cameras under the table in a cafe following rather too much beer. Ten minutes later a man ran up to me with it. He had seen me leave, picked up the bag and chased me down the street. The contents of the bag were probably worth several years salary. I love China and taking photographs there is always a great pleasure. Maybe I have been lucky, but whenever I am there the light seems to have a special quality. If you get down to yangshuo check out ChinaClimb. You will find some very helpful people. If you want to work without a fixer that costs you an arm and a leg, visit one of the universities. There are many students keen to help you.

by Nick Hardcastle | 14 May 2010 03:05 | Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia | | Report spam→
Hi Enoch,
Absolutely no problem to do photos in China, and even in autonomous regions like Tibet or Xinjiang, there is no big concern.
Bring what you want, where ever you want. I always go out with my 2 bodies on shoulders with very visible zooms… well no worries.
I am living in Chengdu, Sichuan, West China. Let me know if you need anything, especially if you want to visit West China.
Take care.

by Mikael Sacchi | 15 May 2010 01:05 | Chengdu Sichuan, China | | Report spam→
Hi Enoch,

Absolutly no problem to take pics in China.. It’s one year and half that i live and travel around China without any trouble.. then just enjoy the trip, the landscapes and the people.
Take care

by Mattia Marinolli | 15 May 2010 02:05 | Beijing, China | | Report spam→
I spent two months in China in 2008. Definitely, one of my favorite countries and safer than most. I agree with others that getting a fixer will help greatly. Even in Beijing, many signs are written in Chinese. But, most people are very helpful if you ask for help or directions. I think you are okay with the amount of gear you are carrying. Bring a couple of outlet adapter for your electronic devices. While I was there, it was tough to access some websites such as blog sites and relating to Tibet. Bringing a laptop is also convenient because internet cafe are not widely available. Being a student I think is to your advantage. I would suggest getting an International Student ID Card because you will get discounts on hostels and museums. Also check out Lonely Planet forum (thorntree) if you need tips and advise on getting around while in China.

by Andri Tambunan | 15 May 2010 04:05 | Sacramento, United States | | Report spam→

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Enoch Wu, Enoch Wu
Bowling Green, Ohio , United States
Federico Caponi, Photographer Federico Caponi
Warsaw , Poland
Sam Leung, Photojournalist Sam Leung
Alberta , Canada
Nick Hardcastle, Nick Hardcastle
Al Khobar , Saudi Arabia
Mikael Sacchi , Photographe Mikael Sacchi
Chengdu , China ( CTA )
Mattia Marinolli, photojournalist Mattia Marinolli
Kiev , Ukraine
Andri Tambunan, Documentary Photographer Andri Tambunan
Documentary Photographer
(Available for Assignments)
Jakarta , Indonesia


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