Street photography is one of the most popular genres today, and it can all be repetitive. It doesn't have to be. The secret to great street photography is by getting to know the cityscape and culture, and in Beijing, there's much to learn. We present to you some of the distinct qualities of Beijing.
Go typographic: Chinese characters
For those who don't know, the Chinese characters -- whether in Standard Mandarin or Mandarin Chinese -- are not meant to be seen as letters, but as pictures. For Westerners, this is a common misconception. Apparently, each character represents and illustrates what that character is supposed to be. The way the characters are written are supposed to 'mimic' its definition. To be in a country in which speaks in characters than letters adds texture to the urban set-up of Beijing. Appreciate those hard-to-mimic delicate strokes by capturing them during your grind.
The color red holds different meanings and is important to many peoples, cultures, and countries, but this color can be seen almost everywhere in China. Why? It stems from the Theory of the Five Elements, wherein traditional Chinese art and culture, black, red, white, yellow, and qing are viewed as standard colors. In traditional Chinese symbolism, red represents fire, a metaphor for luck, happiness, and joy. The color red means so much to China. Walls, fiesta decors, doors, default font colors of street signs and shop logos, the national flag, temple decorations.. you'd never see this much red as it is in here.
The infamous urban grit
A street photographer knows how to capture a good photograph. A good street photographer knows how to pay attention. One of the unspoken criteria of being a good photographer is to be cultured.
It is known that Bejing, in spite of its glorious history and beauty as China's capital, is infamous for the smog and overpopulation; "The Daily" Records":http://www.thedailyrecords.com/2018-2019-2020-2021/world-famous-top-10-list/world/most-populated-cities-world-us-largest-metropolitan-areas/10284/ listed Beijing as number as 10th most populous. Cleanliness isn't one of its greater traits either, the city streets are extremely crowded either by people or by dump, each corner being inhabited by a person or two, and it's in a constant state of flux. The urban space is completely occupied, a distinct quality of the city that one must capture.
With the overpopulation issue in mind, the next thing you can photograph are the people, specifically the bystanders that spend long day hours outside, and this is the best way to be both a traveler and a street photographer -- get to know them, know their stories, whether by camaraderie or by a photograph.