Podcast: Story in the Story (3/4/2019 Mon.)
People's Daily app


From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

According to Chinese tech company Alibaba, last October one in 20 senior citizens on its shopping platforms owned a selfie stick.

Elderly photographers spent $630 per person on cameras in 2017, up 42 percent from the previous year.

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

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

As Chinese people's living standards improve and senior citizen consumption rates increase, photography classes for the elderly are emerging at universities and community colleges nationwide.

China's first university for the elderly in East China's Shandong Province attracted over 10,000 retirees last spring. Photography was among the top three choices among elderly applicants.

A university for the elderly in Anhui Province offers four photography classes where the average student age is 65 years old.

"The vast elderly group is gradually becoming a new market force in the age of the Internet. We need to have a better understanding of individual differences among seniors to better serve their specific needs," said Si Xiao, head of the Tencent Research Institute.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at how photography has become a popular hobby among China’s elderly population.

elderly photo.jpeg

(Photo: China Daily)

Carrying his single-lens reflex camera, tripod and light blocker, Yang Dezhou is ready to capture the "dancing aunties" with their flying silk scarves against a blue sky in East China's Anhui Province.

Yang, 71, is among the growing army of silver-haired photography enthusiasts in China.

In 2015, the retiree decided to revive his teenage dream of being a photographer.

"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," Yang said, adding that the hobby is an excellent way to spend his retirement.   

Yang has spent almost $8,770 dollars on his two cameras and three lenses, let alone the costly online photo editing courses and photography books.

Yang said photography has dug him into a bottomless hole but adds that it is worth the price.

"I made lots of friends with the same interest through the photography classes and social media platforms," Yang said, adding that they often go out to take pictures all day long.

Wang Yu, 65, is among those who are part of the photography craze. Every Wednesday, she takes a photo editing class at a community college in Hefei.

elderly photo2.jpeg

Photography-loving senior citizens take a look at award-winning photos of a photography competition exhibited at the Shaanxi Library in October 2015. (Photo: China Daily)

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

Retired public servants, business employees and teachers are the most active in class, according to the university.

The elderly shutterbugs are showing their enthusiasm in embracing their youthful life in carrying heavy equipment on their trips and then staying up late to process their work.

"Many senior citizens have changed after taking up photography as a hobby. They told me that they found a way to realize the value of life," said Luo Shirong, an employee at a camera store in Hefei.

Luo also said that elderly people buy more equipment, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the store's sales.

Senior citizens in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, were the most active shoppers among online camera shops, according to Alibaba.

"Many older people followed their offspring by moving to a new city, leaving their old friends and neighbors behind. Loneliness became one of their biggest challenges," said Zhang Zhixian, 72, president of the Shenzhen Photography Society for the elderly.

"Photography helps them share a common language with others," Zhang said.

Founded in 2006, Zhang's photography association now has more than 1,400 members. Every month, the members take pictures of local senior citizens.

"We find joy in photography, and pass it on to others," Zhang added.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily.)