Old Shanghai vs New Shanghai

By Matthew Bamberg / Oct 3, 2005

Question: Where are the most cranes erecting new highrises? Answer: Probably Shanghai. Dozens of new towers soar into the air, reflecting the sun by day and luminating on their own at night. As the U.S.A. finds it difficult to break with the status quo (where I live in Palm Springs, CA, the downtown is stagnant with vacant store fronts), it finds itself mired in an attempt to change the Middle East instead of making life better for the middle and lower classes.

Sure, I have opinions as an artist as I have to, the art has to start somewhere and that’s the point I make in my book, “Digital Art Photography for Dummies”–that you have to know every facet of your life from birth onward so your art corresponds to your interests (including your politics) to make it the best it can possibly be (you also have to be able to listen to critics).

So, my point? Well as China roars by buiding inside their cities (and not exburbs like those massive sprawling towns miles outside of town in the U.S.A.), so must we build inside our cities. We must evaluate everything we do from our use of oil (driving 40 miles to and from work does not make sense anymore) to the selection of our leaders.

And, as the Roaring Tiger moves toward building its Shanghai as a first world city, two things come to mind from my viewpoint as an artistic digital photographer.

1. The U.S.A. has to find ways to keep not only keep up its infrastructure (Shanghai has a budding subway system and a network of well-kept up highways at the same time as many are still riding bicycles) not only in an effort to maintain, but also keeping in mind moving all people safely without burning all of the world’s oil.

2. Artists have golden opportunities now to express social and political ills as well as capturing pieces of the past that are disappearing at lightening speed under more and more world governance.

Here’s two photos of the new and old Shanghai. If you go there snap as many images as you can as the old is almost gone.

TIP: Shoot from the heart and not your head, take photos of the opinions that strike your gut no matter how conservative, liberal or in-between they may be. Take, for example, the two images of old and new Shanghai shown here. As a photographer I would pair these together to possibly make the point to the viewer that the old way of life is disappearing in Shanghai, having him/her think of both the negative and positive consequences of this current change.

About the author

Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg has provided photographs and written articles for various Southern California newspapers and magazines, including The Desert Sun and The Press-Enterprise. More recently, Matt has been teaching at UC Riverside while also authoring several books like the Quick and Easy Secrets book series (Cengage), Killer Photos with Your iPhone (with Kris Krug and Greg Ketchum, Cengage), the 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in San Francisco (Cengage) and Digital Art Photography For Dummies (Wiley).