Selfie studios

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-26 18:18:01

Fueled by the rise of camera phones and social networking sites, it is now a routine practice for many among the younger generation to photograph themselves in self-portraits. With an outstretched arm, a smartphone or camera is held in front of the face, lens pointed back at the photographer; the chin is gently lowered; and finally, with widened eyes, a smile or a pout, a selfie is snapped.

Chinese youngsters dubbed this typical way of posing and shooting "a 45-degree-angle shot," in reference to the awkward angle a person must direct their eyes so that he or she looks their best in the shot.

But now a new method of taking self-portraits is re-imagining the narcissistic selfie, by making the once solo act a fun communal activity that a group of friends can participate in together.

Self-portrait studios make taking selfies a communal activity. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT

Self-portrait studios make taking selfies a communal activity. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT


Do-it-yourself service

The innovation is to put selfie-taking in a professional photography studio which is typically equipped with four devices: carefully arranged lighting, a digital camera fixed on a tripod, a big screen to check the shot, and a selection of backdrops that extend from a wall to cover half the floor. People who want to take self-portraits enter the room and photograph themselves by pressing a remote control shutter that can be held in the hand.

Staff are absent from the room, making it a private space for customers who are more likely to feel at ease posing than they do in traditional photography studios.

To improve the experience and the end results, these photography studios also provide a range of costumes and accessories for customers to dress up.

"Our main customers are young people, especially girls who come to shoot with their best friends," said Sandy Lu, the manager of Mr X Photo (Room 400, Bldg D, 188 Jiangwan Road East, 3387-2018), which claims to be the largest self-portrait photography studio in the city.

Owned by a professional photographer who also runs a traditional studio in the city, Mr X Photo currently has four private shooting rooms in its studio.

The studio offers a wide range of costumes, from Japanese kimonos and wedding dresses, to soldier's uniforms and imperial Chinese clothes worn by royal families. Accessories include funky glasses, hats, wigs and props.

The price for shooting at Mr X Photo is charged by time. On weekdays, it costs 68 yuan ($11.11) per person for half an hour, and 88 yuan on weekends.

The use of most of the costumes and accessories are included in the price of the room, but expensive costumes like wedding dresses cost extra. For 10 yuan, you can choose an unlimited number of any of the costumes in Mr X Photo.

Self-portrait studios make taking selfies a communal activity. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT

Self-portrait studios make taking selfies a communal activity. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT


Shoot as many as you can

Customers at self-portrait photography studios will not be disturbed by staff during the shooting process, and all the photos will be copied onto their USB or a disk.

"The highest record here is 800 pictures taken in one hour," said Yang Yi, whose Chi Xia Studio (1C, 888 Changle Road, 6259-2740) has become one of the best-reviewed self-portrait studios on the popular directory site

The former tourism management major from Fudan University set up the photography studio with two schoolmates this May in a downtown residential compound, and aims to offer a high-end service to customers.

In addition to the aforementioned four devices of a self-portrait studio, Chi Xia also installed a computer in its two rooms, so that customers can have a look at all the photos they've taken in a fixed time.

The costumes are also of good quality in Chi Xia, ranging from maid costumes and animal costumes, to luxurious dresses, silk qipao and sailor suits. Expensive costumes cost extra. Chi Xia charges 198 yuan (10 am to 6 pm) and 228 yuan (6 pm to 10 pm) per hour for one room on weekdays and 258 yuan on weekends.

"How self-portrait studios differ from traditional ones is not only in the shooting procedure, but also in the atmosphere we create for our customers," said Yang.

Make yourself at home

The interior design of Chi Xia's reception room creates a relaxing ambiance with white and light green walls and wooden furniture. A set of white sofas arranged around a woolen carpet is a cozy zone for customers to rest before or after shooting.

The reception area at Mr X Photo is also furnished with sofas and toys to recreate the comfortable living room of an ordinary family. Customers can also enjoy a free cup of fresh coffee there.

Unlike the aforementioned two venues which don't offer makeup services, the Kachakacha Photography Studio (Room 1104, Bldg 2, Lane 99 Caoxi Road North, 400-6021-588) in Xuhui district helps customers apply makeup, but customers need to bring their own cosmetics.

Customers are welcome to bring their own props and costumes for shooting as well as borrow the items available at the studios.

"Taking self-portraits can become a common leisure activity in our lives. It's a nice alternative to going to the cinema or KTV with close friends," said Lu.

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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