Social media has long been filled with fake lifestyle photos, but what about an entire city that was built to be one of the best photography hotspots in the world? Meet Xiapu County, a region of Fujian Province in southern China.
According to Initiated, when you browse some of the most popular and breathtaking scenery and street photos posted on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), most of the images are entirely made in a city that specializes in creating the perfect photo moments for people. visitors.
The city of Xianpu looks like it has been lost in time, stuck in China’s past, and filled with picturesque landscapes and a population that seems to have been picked up directly during that time. But the “rural” town is entirely fake, created by multiple teams of photo teams and actors who pose as farmers and fishermen and provide tourists with perfect and repeatable photo opportunities.
“Under the trees the old people were walking around and it looked a bit like a movie,” a comment on Weibo read. “But the mist was only the smoke of a burning heap.”
According to the report, Xiapu was once popular because of its seafood and restaurants, but after several years of poor harvests, the economy suffered greatly and the local government came up with the idea to “profit from rural tourism. “. Since then, the city has become known to tourists who flock there in order to capture the perfect photo. But nothing is free, and the situations depicted in the images are created “for a price” and may even include special effects provided by local businessmen that help facilitate the perfect photoshoot.
According to New York Times, those “perfect photoshoots” are what have drawn crowds to Xiapu County since the fishing economy collapsed. Crowds of photographers line up and wait for their chance to capture a staged photo of a model in traditional dress performing acts like rowing a boat or waving a fishing net.
One of the main Instagram hotspots in China is Xiapu County, a rural peninsula of fishing villages, beaches and lush hills. Except that fishermen’s tow nets are models. Buffaloes are props. Even the haze isn’t real: it’s straw smoke that burns out of the frame. https://t.co/D0nzPUFCbs
– The New York Times (@nytimes) June 29, 2021
Sometimes groups of actors position themselves in the city and wait for some form of queue before taking action so that photographers can take their dream shots.
🥴 “One of the jobs of Xiapu County’s new economy: burning straw to simulate haze for photo shoots. ” pic.twitter.com/U8bTYENV7i
– 𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚠𝚊𝚛𝚝 (@dodaistewart) June 30, 2021
Local attraction owners have said that sometimes more than 500 visitors a day will visit a particular site, each paying $ 3 to capture images of models throwing large fishing nets, even more if fully dressed in clothing. traditional. The owners – also known as “coordinators” – are eager to help and often lead the models through walkie-talkies to make sure the action is in line and the photographers are ready. This also includes the “haze” setup for action footage, which actually involves burning small patches of straw and stoking the flame to provide the ideal level of haze, creating scenes that some visitors say would be their best. recall the film “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki.
While there is no doubt that the images captured here are visually stunning, many reviewers have complained about the falsity and fabrication of the experience. Some claim to have been deceived in the visit and believed that the city was a true untouched rural environment.
“The teens are tricked into going to this hot spot thinking that everything is real. The worst part is when they find out that the farmers are fake and they are just ‘model making’ they still don’t exhibit it because they prefer to post pretty pictures, ”said one visitor.
While some may complain about the smoke and mirrors presented in this fake rural community, it is clear that many tourists and professional photographers feel that towns like Xiapu offer incredible photo opportunities where they can capture a plethora of images. which would otherwise be classified as “once in a lifetime.”
As one commentator notes: “Ah, but in this world, it doesn’t matter if it’s wrong or not, as long as it looks pretty in the photos.”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.