Se­niors get bit­ten by the shut­ter­bug

Shanghai Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

CAR­RY­ING his sin­gle-lens re­flex cam­era, tri­pod and light blocker, Yang Dezhou, 71, is ready to cap­ture the danc­ing aunts with their fly­ing silk scarves against the blue sky in east China’s An­hui Prov­ince.

Yang is among a grow­ing army of sil­ver-haired shut­ter­bug en­thu­si­asts in China. In 2015, the re­tiree de­cided to re­vive his teenage dream to be a pho­tog­ra­pher.

Ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by Chi­nese In­ter­net gi­ant Alibaba in Oc­to­ber 2018, one in 20 se­nior cit­i­zens on its shop­ping plat­forms owns a selfie stick. The el­der pho­tog­ra­phers spent 4,300 yuan (US$630) per per­son on cam­eras in 2017, up 42 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year.

“Pho­tog­ra­phy helps me freeze the mo­ments and strengthen my phys­i­cal fit­ness. It’s also a sort of so­cial ac­tiv­ity when I go out with my friends to take pic­tures,” said Yang.

De­pend­ing on his pen­sion, Yang has spent al­most 60,000 yuan on his two cam­eras and three lens, let alone the costly on­line cour­ses about photo edit­ing and books.

Yang ad­mits that pho­tog­ra­phy has dug him into a bot­tom­less hole, but he says it is worth the price.

“I made lots of friends with the same in­ter­est through the pho­tog­ra­phy classes and so­cial me­dia plat­forms, “Yang said. “We just en­joy it.”

Yang joined three QQ groups and four WeChat groups of the pho­tog­ra­phy classes in the com­mu­nity col­lege for the el­derly. There are more than 400 peo­ple in a group at most, said Yang.

Wang Yu, 65, was among those who joined in on the pho­tog­ra­phy craze. Ev­ery Wed­nes­day, she takes a photo edit­ing class in a nearby com­mu­nity col­lege in He­fei, cap­i­tal of An­hui Prov­ince.

“When your pic­ture gets into Pho­to­shop, you first have to press CTRL+J to copy the layer. Re­mem­ber, J, like the Jack in poker,” Wang’s teacher said when show­ing ev­ery­one how to edit the pic­tures on a com­puter.

Wang al­ways sits at the front, care­fully fol­low­ing the teacher with her note­book full of the im­por­tant points.

“El­derly peo­ple just like me have a poor mem­ory, and we learn new tech­nol­ogy slowly. But we work hard un­til we learn it,” Wang said.

Never too late to learn

As Chi­nese peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards im­prove and se­nior cit­i­zens’ con­sump­tion in­creases, pho­tog­ra­phy classes in uni­ver­si­ties for the el­derly and com­mu­nity col­leges have grown na­tion­wide in re­cent years.

China’s first uni­ver­sity for the el­derly in east China’s Shan­dong Prov­ince at­tracted over 10,000 se­nior cit­i­zens last spring.

Pho­tog­ra­phy was among the top three choices of the ap­pli­cants.

Cur­rently, the An­hui uni­ver­sity for the el­derly has set up four pho­tog­ra­phy classes, each with 45 stu­dents.

Its stu­dents range from over 50 years old to more than 80 years old, with an av­er­age age of 65. Re­tired pub­lic ser­vants, en­ter­prise em­ploy­ees, and teach­ers are the most ac­tive in the pho­tog­ra­phy classes in the uni­ver­si­ties, while the stu­dents of com­mu­nity col­lege pho­tog­ra­phy classes are less lit­er­ate, mainly grad­u­ates from mid­dle schools, ac­cord­ing to the An­hui uni­ver­sity for the el­derly.

China had more than 241 mil­lion peo­ple aged 60 or above at the end of 2017, ac­count­ing for 17.3 per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion at the time, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics.

It is es­ti­mated that the coun­try’s el­derly will oc­cupy about one-quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion by 2030.

But the shut­ter­bugs are show­ing their over­whelm­ing en­thu­si­asm in em­brac­ing their youth­ful life: Car­ry­ing heavy equip­ment on their trips to take pic­tures and stay­ing up late to process their work.

“Many se­nior cit­i­zens changed a lot after they took pho­tog­ra­phy as their hobby. They told me that they found the way to re­al­ize their value of life,” said Luo Shi­rong, a sales­per­son in a pho­tog­ra­phy equip­ment store in He­fei.

In re­cent years, Luo saw more and more el­derly peo­ple buy equip­ment, ac­count­ing for nearly 60 per­cent of the store’s sales.

Se­nior cit­i­zens in Shenzhen, south China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince, were the most ac­tive clients of on­line cam­era shops, ac­cord­ing to Alibaba.

(Xinhua)

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