Faces of Nanjing

Living in Nanjing was curious. Not only had I never lived or even been to China before; the only comparison I had was a week in Hong Kong, which is amazing but couldn’t be any more different. Nanjing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, having been the seat of power repeatedly in the country’s long history. Nanjing has about 8 million inhabitants and rising, and a while ago I had the pleasure of working in this city for Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation (JSBC), the province’s TV station. When I moved to Nanjing, coming straight from Hong Kong, everything changed instantly – the people looked different, the mannerisms were different, people interactions were quite different and I realised this is a completely different world, although I was still in the same country.

The many faces of Nanjing

Also, everyone stared. Being blonde, you may get a little bit of attention in Shanghai, but not really. People are more used to it. But in Nanjing, I was literally followed by passers-by, who didn’t really pass by… it was slightly bizarre. But after getting over it and realising this was friendly curiosity, I turned it around and did a bit of what might be perceived as “aggressive staring” in western cultures, and allowed my eyes and photo camera to linger on the faces of Nanjing on my regular excursions through my neighbourhood. I was surprised to find that no one was angry that I stared or took photos. And here are some intriguing faces of those 8 million Nanjingers.

Nanjing, China - man on bike

I loved this tricycle. This man had a big smile for me and my camera.


Nanjing, China - group of men

Smiling faces all over! Just a random group of friendly Nanjingers in the square.


Nanjing, China - father and daughter

This man really wanted me to take a picture of him and his child. She was less keen.


Nanjing, China, couple on the side of the road

Those two were a mystery – carspotting? Taxi drivers.


Nanjing, China - Old man walking in the streets

Gentleman walking by on the streets of Nanjing.


Nanjing, China - Man praying at temple

Man praying at Jiming Temple, Nanjing


Nanjing, China - Friends at temple

Yu Li, my flatmate, took me to Jiming Temple, and explained about the incense. In Mandarin. Me – confused, trying to put the story together.


Nanjing, China - Chinese woman, Chinese New Year

My friend Florence, who also worked for the TV station. I was invited to her house for Chinese New Year and she received a present from her aunt.


Nanjing, China - Zhou Zhou TV host

My friend Zhou Zhou – she’s the host of a very popular talk show on Jiangsu TV. She was always up for taking photos and would even leave her bowl of spicy won ton soup to give me a smile!


Nanjing, China - man sitting on the side of the road

I swear this gentleman smiled for the camera just before I managed to snap away.

Nanjing, China, Woman at newsstand

This lady was really happy to have her picture taken.

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Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  6 comments for “Faces of Nanjing

  1. 24 July, 2012 at 17:03

    That is a lot of happy looking people. China fascinates me and I’ll getther eone day, until then…photo posts like yours will have to satisfy me. Great shots….I seldom photograph people but you seem to have a knack for it! Or maybe it was just the blonde hair? Ha!

    • Christina
      26 July, 2012 at 21:42

      Maybe it was the hair, yes… 🙂 I was so surprised to find that most people were fine with me taking pictures of them. I only had a few occasions where they declined, but politely so, and that’s absolutely fine. Glad you like the pics. I can totally recommend China, it’s fascinating.

  2. 26 July, 2012 at 07:11

    Glad to see the people so happy! And I am sure they followed you around for more than just your blonde hair. I am sure they were drawn to you as a person as well 🙂

    • Christina
      26 July, 2012 at 21:47

      Well… let me believe that. If they were to write a post about Nanjing oddities back then, I might have made the list 😉

  3. 26 July, 2012 at 18:41

    Faces are often so much more fascinating than mountains or skylines. Nice collection.

    • Christina
      26 July, 2012 at 21:49

      Thanks Scott. I don’t photograph people nearly enough. Or everyday scenes, wherever I go. I feel like I’m intruding sometimes, which I probably am. But those guys were all really cool about it!

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