When I grow up, I want to be a wedding photographer…
A little bit because I’m snap happy with my new camera, but mostly because taking wedding pictures seems like a popular and necessary job in China. What I mean is I might actually be able to find employment when I graduate if I consider wedding photography. I’m a film major and, considering that’s the second most useless major behind English, employment in anything would be welcome. Plus, it seems like there are perks to being a wedding photographer—you wear a cool leather jacket, shout at happy people, and permanently have cool hair. Well, it at least seems that way in China.
Let me back up—my mom came to visit this week (I know!! Soooo exciting) and we decided to go to Shanghai for the weekend. Shanghai is as international as they say it is. There are tons of foreigners and most people speak English—it’s a lot like New York, actually—people just hold hands more and walk wa-a-ay slower.
Anyway, we decided to do the Lonely Planet’s walking tour of the Bund. We were barely to number 4 on the list—the 1907 Garden Bridge—and we had already passed four couples getting wedding photos taken. It is possible they were just models, not marriage newbies but…let’s pretend they were real. As my father always says, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
Seeing all those newly married/possibly fake couples made me think—not just about a potential job market, but about Chinese weddings and Chinese society in general. The couples on Garden Bridge seem to reflect the interesting paradox in modern China—the simultaneous existence of both old and new, of both history and modernity. Changes—too many or too few—are all anyone seems to talk about. Sometimes people like the change—an old man at a nearby park told me how much better China is these days than it used to be. He said he thought it would be even better in ten years, so I should come back then. Other people long for the past, and strongly believe that China is changing too quickly. Visitors at Huxueyan’s former residence, for example, told me that they loved the residence for its traditional Chinese architecture and wasn’t it such a pity that there weren’t more places like this.
It was as I was trying to surreptitiously take photos that all this came to mind. The couples posing for their wedding pictures against the historical Garden Bridge seem to perfectly manifest Chinese society today. There was the traditional architecture, the modern clothes, and—if the couples were models—capitalism as well. I couldn’t help but smile. When I grow up, I definitely want to be a wedding photographer.