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Selfie studios a hit in China

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-01-12 08:29
Taking selfies is increasingly popular among young Chinese people. [PHOTO BY SU YANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

SHENYANG-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 entertainment in Chinese cities.

At 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 ($23) 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 port.

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

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 for their smartphones. They need 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, 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," says 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," Liu says.

Wang Jinshan, a culture scholar with the 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 appearances and personalities," says Zhao Huiying, a communication researcher with Liaoning Normal University. "For selfie fans, a picture is worth a thousand words."

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