Selfie studios strike a pose in Chinese cities

Jan. 11, 2018 11:23:28

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Photo taken in May 2013 shows a selfie studio in Lanzhou, northwest China's Gansu Province. Photo by Chen Bin

By Cheng Lu, Hong Kerun, Yu Yetong

In a room with a professional camera and lighting, people choose costumes, props and accessories, then snap quality shots of themselves with the help of a small remote control instead of a skilled photographer.

The selfie studio has arrived as the new entertainment in Chinese cities.

In a selfie studio in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, Wang Sijia, wearing a cropped blue cheongsam top and black skirt, takes photos with her boyfriend.

"It's a novel way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our romantic relationship," says Wang, who works in a real estate company.

She spends around 150 yuan (around 23 U.S. dollars) for a one-hour service in the studio, which offers different backdrops, props and accessories.

"I won't be manipulated by photographers. I'm my own photographer and model. The studio gives me the power and freedom to control my own pictures," Wang says.

She snaps more than 200 photos within an hour and gets all the photos by downloading them to a USB.

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Photo taken in November 2013 shows a selfie studio in east China's Zhejiang Province. Photo released by Xinhua

Taking selfies is hugely popular in China, as smartphones and social media services make photos easy to snap and share. The Oxford Dictionaries even announced "Selfie" as its International Word of the Year in 2013.

The selfie studio has been a trend in Asia since around 2014, and there are now dozens of such businesses in China, Singapore and Thailand.

They have sprung up in Chinese cities, big and small, as selfie takers are no longer satisfied with merely making a "V" sign in front of their smartphones. They need more variety in how they can take pictures of themselves, and the selfie studios offer them exactly that.

The exact number of selfie studios in China is unknown, but a quick search on dianping.com, China's major online consumer guide. shows eight in Shenyang and dozens in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively.

"After I had tried taking selfies in a selfie studio, I opened one by myself," said Liu Na, who owns a studio in Shenyang.

Liu frequently changes the theme of her rooms, costumes and props to make sure her studio stays competitive.

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Photo taken in April 2014 shows a selfie studio in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province. Photo by Li Ga

"I won't disturb customers unless the camera or lighting needs to be adjusted. I think this is why they like such studios," Liu says.

Wang Jinshan, a culture scholar with Inner Mongolia University of Finance and Economics, agrees. "The selfie studios give customers a chance to capture themselves when no one is around. They can express themselves in a natural and unrestrained way."

Piao Guangxing, a sociologist with Minzu University of China, attributes the popularity of selfies to the Chinese people's consumption shift from material desires to leisure and entertainment.

"Selfies, as a special personalized symbol, meet people's psychological demands to show their individual appearance and personality," says Zhao Huiying, a communication researcher with Liaoning Normal University. "For selfie fans, a picture is worth a thousand words." (SHENYANG 2018-01-10 20:43:20)

Editor: Li Mengxin

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