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Raising a smile with nothing but a selfie

By Tan Yingzi in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-24 08:05

Raising a smile with nothing but a selfie

Liao Luqiang, a taxi driver in Southwest China's Chongqing city, takes selfies with passengers.Photo Provided To China Daily

What would you do if a taxi driver asked to take a picture with you? Well, if you visit Chongqing in Southwest China you might just find out.

Liao Luqiang, a 31-year-old originally from Suining, Sichuan province, has been driving a taxi in Chongqing for about eight years.

He finds his job interesting because of all the different people he gets to meet, but in recent years he has detected rising levels of anxiety and upset in his cab.

So on April 27, 2015, he began a project called Smile Selfie, in a bid to brighten his passengers' days.

"People always smile when taking selfies," he said.

"I just want to cheer my passengers up and put a little light back into their day with smiles and happiness."

Over the past 22 months, Liao has taken more than 300 pictures with his passengers and posted them to his account on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter.

He is always careful not to be too pushy and tries his best to get to know his passengers first before asking to take a picture with them.

"The atmosphere in the car can become very depressed if the passengers are in a bad mood," he said. "I really want to make them happy during the short time they are with me."

The first photo Liao took was with a man in his 70s, who posed with the V-sign hand gesture in front of his forehead.

"Usually young people and seniors are more likely to accept the idea," he said. "Middle-aged people are more cautious."

Some young women are inordinately picky about their photos and will want several taken from different angles, Liao said, so to make the selfies more beautiful, he has learned some photographic tricks from his wife and bought a new cellphone with automatic photo - editing functions.

Still, about half his passengers turn down his requests for a picture.

One day, Liao was rejected by three middle-aged people in a row.

"I got so upset I nearly gave up," he said.

But he is inspired to keep going by the people who follow his social media account, such as Teng Jiazhi, a retired taxi driver in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province.

"Many people appreciate my project and I will try my best to bring more happiness to my little cab," Liao said.

He now plans to make a photograph album filled with the selfies he has taken and put a copy in his taxi for his passengers to admire.

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