Dispatches: Of Steam Buns, Hairy Crabs and Old Shanghai

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I’ve been following, on Facebook, with interest photographer Drew Gurian’s first trip to Shanghai. I know Drew a bit as he, until recently, was Joe McNally’s assistant.

Drew’s a great guy, great shooter, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times, either doing a shoot with Joe or at the Faces of Ground Zero exhibit. Drew is freelancing now, getting his portfolio in front of plenty of big agencies and doing some work for Rolling Stone. I can’t imagine he wont’ be successful.

But it’s his personal trip to Shanghai that intrigues me. First, because it’s just that. Drew is based in New York but said I want to get over there, see it, meet people. So he did. I don’t believe you have to jump on a plane and head to a different culture to do a personal project. But if you’re young and single and can do it, why not? Good for him and this adventure.

It was about this time three years ago that I was in Shanghai on a photo shoot for my job. I was there with a art director (who is also a good friend) and a photographer from Vancouver, Chris Wahl. Chris recently made some internet waves with his Maclean’s David Bowie-inspired cover of astronaut Chris Hadfield. Nice guy, creative, good shooter.

Anyway, Shanghai was to be a big trip for me. I prepped by reading Empire Of The Sun, and watching The Lady From Shanghai. I couldn’t wait to go. Having already been to Beijing earlier in the year, I was interested in the compare and contrast.

Once there, my routine was set. As is my wont when traveling, even/especially on business, I’d wake up super early, before light, grab a coffee, make sure my battery was charged and my CF cards clear, and head out to walk the city.

I was looking to be a street photographer without trying to be a tourist with a camera hanging off his shoulder. I wanted to see what I could see.

Document.

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Steam buns (baozi) or noodles for breakfast? Absolutely.

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Just trying to take in snippets of life on the streets of Shanghai.

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Had a chance to shoot some portraits as well. The people of Shanghai were warm and open to this Westerner, quick with a smile…or at least a tentative grin.

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Even my travel buddy Flo enjoyed the trip, hospitality and people.

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And since my wife, at the time, was pregnant with Kraj Kid #2, I had to stop by Jing’an Temple (Temple of Peace and Tranquility), right near our hotel. I wanted to light some prayer incense for our soon-to-be born Chase Vincent. Couldn’t hurt to have some Eastern influence to support a long and peaceful life.

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Oh, and the hairy crab? Apparently it’s a delicacy in Shanghai, and I happened to be there when it was in-season. Tasty, but not really worth the work to get to the meat. Still…it was better than the sea cucumber I also tried. Yikes.

Shanghai is a a pretty incredible city. A pleasant mix of old world and new. Mysterious, evocative, historical – a fantastic adventure.

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I hope Drew is enjoying his visit as much as I enjoyed mine.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013

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