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Birmingham, United Kingdom

China, Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an

Street photography in China

We'll be in China for 3 weeks this summer and we're all keen amateur photographers. I have 2 questions about that. 

  1. What's the ordinary person's attitude to gawping tourists taking photos? Is it generally accepted? Is it thought to be rude?
  2. Are there more official diktats about public or street photography? Should I, for example, not take photos of officials?

7 Answers

top answer by
zhao from Beijing

Do not worry, if you are a tourist, as long as you remain polite, will say a few words in Chinese, all the better.

If you are accompanied by someone, so much easier and simpler. Beijing welcomes you.

3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Jocelyn from China

Hi, David!

I am Jocelyn from Shanghai.

First, it's accepted to gawp tourists taking photos but not too long. Mostly, it's ok to take photos of public or street if there's no 'No photos' sign. For taking photos of officials, that's also fine if no one said 'No photos'.

Wish you enjoy your journey in Shanghai!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Shanghai (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Sarah from Los Angeles

You will love Shanghai as a photographer! Make sure to go to the lane houses of the French Concession and the markets - try Dongtai Road Antique Market!

To to answer your questions:

  1. Unlike in some of the smaller cities, in Shanghai everyone is very used to foreigners so no need to worry; the Chinese are generally open and curious about interacting with foreigners. Maybe ask them if it's okay to take photos first, if that makes you feel more comfortable. You could show them this to ask if it's ok: 我可不可以拍个拍照片?
  2. I once got chased away from the Iranian Consulate near Fuxing Road because I was shooting a video... But it's generally fine wherever you are!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. French Concession (attraction)
  2. Dongtai Road Antique Market (attraction)
  3. Shanghai (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Hua from Shanghai

Answer to Question 1: Taking photos is, of course, accepted in Shanghai! But, you do NOT take too many photos on one person. People won't mind being in the photos unless you are trying to discover their privacy! Most Chinese parents don't mind their babies in the foreigners' photos without being informed, because they believe that their babies are so beautiful that eveyone wants to take a picture. They are happy for it!

Answer to Question 2: No! There is no diktats about public or street photography! You can take photos to officials, but don't let them feel uncomfortable!

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
xiaoni from China

You can take photos.  It is not be thought rude in China.

You can take photos of officials.

1 thanks

answered by
sherrie from China

1. Sure,it's accepted to take photos of ordinary people and it's not rude at all

2. Not sure about that. If possible please do not take photos in front of government buildings.

1 thanks

answered first by
Sunny from Beijing

I don't know for sure. but I never met anyone stop me from taking photos. I think it's generally accepted. And no such regulation for public photography. 

1 thanks

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