Its all about the photos

Chinese friends say they love the ‘boasting power’ that photo opportunities in amazing places give them and they tell me they love to flaunt these iconic images to friends.

Creating great backdrops for those images is gold.  It might be for that cameo shot inside or outside your establishment.  Or you might take that extra effort and time to lead your visitors to the perfect photo spot. 

I’ve always valued authenticity, the genuine article, the real deal and even the genuine moment captured in photography.  I find it hard to round up camera-shy family members and friends to pose together for any occasion.  They generally prefer the natural authentic shots.

When a Chinese colleague in Hong Kong handed over her newly prepared wedding album I was delighted.  I was a bit puzzled as I had somehow missed congratulating her on such a huge event.  She dismissed my concerns and assured me that they weren’t married yet.  They just had the photos done 3 months in advance.  

I struggled to get excited or see any value in such an exercise.   I was somehow irritated and didn’t know what to say.  My preference for authenticity, capturing that authentic moment in photographs came to the surface and I was conflicted.

I’ve since discovered that authenticity is seen in different ways.

Looking through the cultural lens
One might say it’s universal for all tourists to take photos when you’re travelling.  It’s simply human nature to want to capture beautiful scenes.  That certainly is true however the volume, frequency and type of photos, even perspectives and distance can vary from culture to culture. It’s a fascinating study.

Our Chinese visitors’ appetite for adventure and new exciting tastes and experiences definitely does exist however those who traditionally derive much meaning in life from symbolic gestures may be just as happy going through the motions of an experience through their photos.

Chinese Tourist taking a selfie
Image: by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

Don’t forget the people
The invitation to be drawn in amongst a group of tourists for a photo is truly heart-warming as they capture the fabulous food, scenery, décor or event.   

As well as providing the backdrop photo ops, be willing to pose with Chinese tourists.  You may be the manager, the person in the uniform, the maker of fine food and beverage, the operator of that unique piece of equipment in a vineyard or paddock, the chef or the winemaker. You may even go that step further and go through the motions with a ‘pose’.

Professionals who manage zoos tells me that in the Australian context, their legendary zoo keepers are in just as much demand for photos as the animals. The keepers are unique and help to define the context.

Our Chinese visitors want their friends to know they are in authentic Australia and local people add to this authenticity.

A little Mandarin to ‘say cheese’ which is ‘qié zi’ (chair dz) meaning ‘eggplant’ as well and you’re sure to capture hearts and trigger brighter than usual smiles.

Photo opportunities are more than you can imagine 
So, create appealing spaces for those perfect photo ops. Get ready to pose with your delightful Chinese tourists and remember that these iconic images will, within moments, be posted on social media and WeChat. Your gorgeous food, places and local faces will be out to your visitors’ vast network in no time at all. 

Qié zi!

Guest writer:Pamela Murphy is a CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Certified Advanced Professional