A Beautiful Family Photo Shoot in the back alleys of Shanghai

by Wang Gang Fang, Gang Of One Photography, January, 2006.

Having lived in Shanghai, China from 2000 until 2007, we wanted to create a fun remembrance of our adventures.  We had previously commissioned traditional Chinese costumes to be sewn, so I contacted Gang of One Photography and he chose some atmospheric Shanghai back streets built around the turn of the century for our venue.

My daughter Julia, helped the crew to prepare the photo shoot

Wang Gang Fang, the photographer, termed the first segment of the shoot “Red” for the traditional “qipao” or “cheongsam” of the ladies which had evolved over time from 1600’s Qing Dynasty Manchu court dress.  The ladies wear the 1920’s version then popular in Shanghai.  I am wearing a “changshan”, the male version of Manchu formal court dress, topped with a silk vest.  Both forms of dress ended in China with the 1949 revolution, though in recent years the ladies “qipao” is often seen at Shanghai weddings and certain other formal or “splashy” occasions.

For the next segment, our photographer borrowed a local lady’s bicycle and shot in a crowded lane surrounded by local resident’s newly laundered clothing.  My Chinese colleagues found it astonishing that we would allow laundry lines in our photos, but hanging laundry is an everyday occurence when few people can afford dryers.  Besides we thought it quite colorful!

My favorite picture in the “Red” sequence is of my lovely daughter Julia


Next, Wang Gang Fang had us change into blue and black modern dress for the “Blue” segment

Finally, our photographer used some construction workers as a backdrop for a supposed “mandarin” checking the worker’s progress.  I think this mandarin, should have had more hair and a sported a Manchu qeue (hairstyle).



Though the photos were, of course, staged, they continue to trigger great memories of our time in Shanghai and the wonderful people we worked and played with.

Wang gang Fang is a wonderful photographer and observer of rural life in China.  For more on Wang Gang Fang and Gang of One Photography, check out his wonderful art creations depicting Chinese country life here:  Gang Of One

Author: David Willett

Worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard, attended University of Washington and Michigan State University, lived in the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, visited 36 countries, 11 of 13 Canadian Provinces and all 50 U.S. states, living in Fort Collins, CO, USA

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