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January 12, 2018

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Chinese cities, public embrace age of selfie studios

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 China’s cities.

In such a 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.

She spends around 150 yuan (US$23) for 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,” says Wang.

She snaps more than 200 photos within an hour and downloads all the photos onto a USB flash drive.

Taking selfies is hugely popular in China, as smartphones and social media services make photos easy to snap and share. 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.

“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. “I won’t disturb customers unless the camera or lighting needs to be adjusted. I think this is why they like such studios.”

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 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 of Liaoning Normal University. “For selfie fans, a picture is worth a thousand words.”


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