Park pictures capture a thousand stories

SHANGHAI’S parks offer a quiet place to relax from the urban jungle and also provide a moment of inner peace for press photographer Xu Haifeng, who wandered among them to capture their beauty.

Xu’s photo exhibition, “Inside Shanghai Parks,” is open to the public today in the Associate Mission Building, RockBund, and the show will run until July 6.

For the past two years, Xu has visited local parks in the downtown area and outskirts to find some special moments. He shot the sunset glow in the woods, the lazy stray cat lying by the road, lonely people snoozing on the bench and elders playing chess or chatting in the kiosk.

“It was by chance that I walked into a park two years ago and felt like I found my refuge,” Xu says. “As a press photographer and investigative reporter, I often saw the world’s dark side, which affected me in a negative way.”

So the park project detoxifies the photographer. At the beginning Xu just shot for fun or read a few pages in the park, but gradually he fell in love with the fauna and flora, the people and the peacefulness away from the city’s hustle and bustles.

Different parks have different styles. In Changfeng Park, Xu met a group of trendy aunties and uncles in smart dress, playing guitar and drums, quite distinctive from other elders. “They mistook me for a Japanese photographer and greeted me with kon ni qi wa (hello),” he says, beaming.

In Pingliang Park when Xu took pictures of a shirtless man, practicing qigong, he noticed in a corner a young woman sat silently in the shadows. “She looked quiet and upset. I guess she had some sad stories and was probably healing herself in the park,” Xu recalls.

The parks, in Xu’s lenses, are a place to get refreshed, recharged and inspired. The photographer will share more stories, of those behind the pictures inside Shanghai parks, at his lecture to be held on June 17 at 1:30pm-4:30pm at the exhibition venue.


“Inside Shanghai Parks”

Date: Through July 6, 10am-9pm

Venue: Rm 104, Associate Mission Building

Address: 169 Yuanmingyuan Rd