Photographing China | The Old and the New

A view of Pudong from across the Huangpu River on The Bund in Shanghai, China.

Time to take a peep behind the bamboo curtain. Shanghai is a large and heavily populated city. Actually it's one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

This photo was made looking across the Huangpu River from the historic riverside region called The Bund. Just off The Bund is Nanjing Road, a shopping paradise for anyone wanting to bring a bit of glitz into their China experience.

But Nanjing Road was behind me when I made this photo. What we see in this photo are some of the more futuristic buildings in the Pudong business district.

Soldiers faces, carved into stone along The Bund in Shanghai, China.

Shanghai is interesting in so much as it provides a great mix of historical and contemporary, east and west. If ever you get the opportunity to visit I’d recommend a long walk along The Bund, a night time excursion along Nanjing Road and, where these two roads meet, an evening in the wonderful Jazz Bar at the Peace Hotel. The band there is simply divine.

Light throws complimentary shapes on a freshly painted window shutter in The Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

There are so many big cities in modern day China. But, when it comes to impact, I think Beijing reins supreme. I first visited the Beijing in 1989 when it was a much quieter place than it is now. Pollution and diabolical traffic have replaced my memories of bicycles and identically clothed blue suited comrades, both men and women, very much in the Chairman Mao mould.

These days Beijing is a very cosmopolitan city. The modernization of much of the city to showcase the capital during the 2008 Beijing Olympics was an immense achievement, though many are saddened by the loss of the traditional Hutong housing regions.

But, as architecturally dynamic as these wondrous new buildings are, it’s still the traditional sites like the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City that hold the most meaning for me.

A peaceful view of three men relaxing in the sunshine at the end of a long verandah at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.

This photo was made in the grounds of the lovely Summer Palace and depicts a moment of quiet respite, away from the hordes, in this large, beautiful and very heavily touristed site.

I believe I’ve visited Beijing three times over the years. I hope to return again in a year or so during which time I plan to take a deeper look into the culture of China’s thriving capital city.  

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru