Soak up the ageless charm in a festival of photos

May 15

Eastern spot-billed ducks in West Lake" by Hangzhou Laopan
"Bank of Mother River" by Cheng Zhong

PROFESSIONAL and amateur photographers from all over the world are invited to share their pictures with the public at the 10th Hangzhou Citizens Photography Festival kicking off on Wednesday.

One does not need to have a good camera to be a participant.

Indeed, smartphone pictures recording memorable moments in daily life are favored, as they actually echo the name of the festival.

“The initiative is to have everyone enjoy the pleasure of taking photos,” said Fu Yongjun, one of the organizers and a senior photo journalist from Hangzhou Daily. “And we wanted to use photographs by both professionals and amateurs because the idea is to make people ‘feel the city’.”

The festival was launched in 2008 by the municipal government as part of a vision of Hangzhou as a “city of quality life.”

The event set “everyone can participate” as a principal: Anyone is welcome to send photos, and the exhibitions are free.

Over the past decade, the annual event has showcased thousands of photos — by artists and amateurs, by long lenses and iPhones — no matter how the theme changes every year.

This is also one of the reasons that venues are scenic sites and Metro stations rather than serious museums.

In addition to exhibiting gorgeous photos, the festival also runs free lectures on photography, given by photojournalists and visual artists.

Hangzhou’s beautiful scenery has led many locals to take up photography. Some of these amateur shutterbugs are very skilled and have a keen eye for detail.

In past years, number of participants has surged, and festival organizers have collected more than 100,000 photos, of which more than 10,000 have been displayed.

Hong Yan, from Hubei Province, is an amateur photographer. She holidayed in Hangzhou last year and this year she flew back especially to make a series called “Tea Farmers’ Day” for the festival.

Ren Xian, a local retiree, has had photos selected for display at the annual festival since 2008.

His pictures always focus on the city’s residents.

Two years ago his series of people doing morning exercises at the bank of West Lake caught many eyes.

“I have a strong attachment to West Lake, and the festival is an opportunity for me to display works as an amateur,” said Ren, who walks around the lake almost every morning with his camera.

Each year international photographers are also invited to contribute their work to the festival.

“It is impressive to see a photo festival with a focus on local people,” said T. C. Lin, a photographer from Taiwan who attended the festival in 2014, showing his works about Taiwan.

The 10th Hangzhou Citizens Photography Festival runs from May 17 to 21. With the theme “Ageless Charm of Hangzhou,” it will display photos from students, retirees, and 100 Hangzhou families alongside the works of master photographers in Gushan, Bai Causeway, the Citizen Center and City Balcony.

They will later be exhibited abroad, with a selection of 100 photos on “The City” and 50 on “Hangzhou.” They will be exhibited in famous foreign libraries. Pictures of Hangzhou by foreign visitors posted on Instagram and WeChat will also be selected.

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