3 … 2 … 1 … everybody say scorpion
I love going to Wangfujing night market when I’m in Beijing. Not because I’ve a great love of scorpions on sticks or a particular penchant for roasted lizard. But because it’s a 24 carat, grade-A photo paradise.
There’s something about those red and white outfits, lit by fluorescent lamps from above, that never fails to look good. All those red, white and blues; the brightness of the shirts and the metallic greys of the stalls and equipment. The colours are perfect, the light is perfect, and if you spend a bit of time there until you get what you want, you can’t not come away with some cool looking pictures.
Added to the aesthetics, there’s also the fact that the average age of the vendors on Wangfujing street is probably about twenty years old. Bored of scooping noodles or standing in the cold grilling squid all night, these happy chaps are usually more than willing to indulge the welcome distraction that a camera-wielding tourist brings to proceedings. Whether their excitement sees them brandishing the nearest metal object as if it were a mighty sword, or a simple, cool-as-you-like stare is as good as you get, it’s more than likely that if you ask if you can take a picture rather than slyly snapping away, you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Most of the pictures here were taken on my recent Christmas trip (coats). The others were taken last spring (shirts). I love the first one. I tried to take a photo of the guys on the stall opposite first, but they were more interested in pointing me in the direction of these three characters rather than having their own photo taken. As soon as they saw me the guy on the right picked up his ladle and struck a pose. We had to wait for the crowds to part before we had a clear view, all the while remaining posed and ready, but I got the shot.
I should also give a big 谢谢 to Chestnut Kid – by far the coolest chestnut seller in Beijing. While the third photo in this collection is one of my favourite portraits I’ve taken in China. The guy posed so perfectly and naturally for me, all I had to do was raise my camera and press Go. I can’t wait to go back.
Prints & Downloads: All images are available as prints and licensed downloads via my China Galleries.