【Enterprises in Jing’an】Shanghai’s 30-year Story in Shanghai Pictorial


By Shi Danni

Shanghai Pictorial uses a picture of Shanghai in the 21st century as the cover of Issue 300. The picture manifests this city’s magnificence in the new millennium by showing the giant Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center shooting up to the sky. The long-established periodical was founded in 1982, with “a city, a pictorial—using a pictorial to truly record the historical changes of Shanghai” as its style. It is affiliated to Shanghai Pictorial Press (now renamed as Shanghai Brilliant Publishing House) which has witnessed the numerous historical changes and transitions of Shanghai in its 30-year journey of development. Recently, the reporter paid a visit to Shanghai Pictorial Press and got to know detailed stories between the press and Jing’an District during the thirty years.

Using images to record urban development.

Shanghai Pictorial Press is located in a free-standing building in a lane of Changle Road of Jing’an District, and there are green trees around and a little pond in front of the door. However, there aren’t many editors working here. With more than thirty years’ efforts of the editing team which even can’t be called a huge one, Shanghai Pictorial has managed to record construction achievements made by all walks of life of Shanghai, thousands of social news of Shanghai citizens and spiritual changes of Shanghai and its people since the start of the reform and opening-up through a great amount of true and vivid original pictures, words and scenes, with featured photography as the main form. It records every single brilliant moment of Shanghai by lens and has succeeded to be one of the important channels for the external publicity of Shanghai.

Shanghai Pictorial has gone through many revisions in main content, and now major columns include Images of Shanghai, Focus, Overseas Shanghailander, Metropolitan News, Metropolitan Creations, Stories of Shanghai Brands, etc., all of which introduce native people and the local customs and practices, reflect people’s livelihood and conditions in Shanghai in an all-round way and are  tightly connected with the time . And Jing’an is surely one of its priorities. In recent years, the periodical has reported and recorded historical changes of Jing’an Temple, Culture Street on North Shaanxi Rd., Wujiang Rd., Moller Villa, Zhang’s Garden, Plaza 66, Shanghai Natural History Museum and Shikumen Lane and so on. You can get a glimpse of the development history of this district by simply browsing previous 300 issues of Shanghai Pictorial.

Every single moment and each strand of memory of Jing’an’s development also have been carefully captured by Shanghai Pictorial. Recently, Shanghai Pictorial cooperated with some functional departments of Jing’an and co-published A Collection of Historical Buildings in West Nanjing Road Community which retrospected Jing’an’s Simingcun Cultural Village, former residence of Wu Tongwen (Green House) and other excellent buildings under historical protection and reservation as well as their legendary stories, and Celebrity Project of West Nanjing Road Community et al. which reviewed some cultural figures’ connections with Jing’an, such as Gao Shixiong, He Youzhi, Xie Jin, Cao Peng, Lv Qiming, Han Tianheng, Cheng Naishan and Ye Xin; and in 2013, Shanghai Pictorial cooperated with the Site-Memorial of the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China and co-published Mounting Dragon and Soaring Phoenix---History Images Catalogue of  the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China  which also won extensive compliments from various circles.         

Famous Photographers Sprung up

A senior editor who’d been worked in Shanghai Pictorial for nearly 20 years told the reporter that the periodical’s golden age was 1980s and 1990s. All top photographers nowadays began their career from Shanghai Pictorial. It gathered the most brilliant group with the sharpest observation at that time. Jin Hongwei, Er Dongqiang, Zheng Xianzhang and other famous photographers sprung up thereafter.          

Jin Hongwei is a Chinese collector owning the largest photographic works all over the world and also the largest shareholder of SIPA, one of the major four photo agencies in the world. He used to be a war photographer, and a photo editor of Shanghai Pictorial. He went to study in the United States in 1989 and got his master’s degree in Photographing at Maryland Institute College of Art in 1992, becoming the first mainland Chinese who have ever got this degree in America.    

And the noted photographer Er Dongqiang also started his photography career from Shanghai Pictorial. He had ever been a reporter and editor in Shanghai Pictorial for years. After leaving the government-related institution, themed with histories of urban districts, he published some photo albums, such as The Last Glimpse--Western-style Buildings in Shanghai, Shanghai French Concession, Old-fashioned Villas in Shanghai, Treaty Ports in Modern China, Missionary Schools in China, Art Deco in Shanghai, etc. In 2010, his Aerial View of Shanghai especially  left a valuable asset of photographic literature for Shanghai.     

Zheng Xianzhang, the current chief photographer of Shanghai Pictorial, keeps using cameras to record Shanghai for a long time and is skilled at capturing Shanghai-themed images. In 2002, he held his individual photographic exhibition, Shanghai Today, in St. Petersburg, San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo and Osaka successively. More than 100 pieces of his works r won awards in competitions at home and abroad. And he published picture albums like Unity of People and Nature, Psalm of Life, Suzhou River, the Palace Museum, et al. in succession.    

Shanghai Pictorial has been constantly striving for perfection of images, closely keeping up with the time and recording the city’s history, which makes it cradle for preeminent photographers. It has won Golden Eye award, the highest award appraised by Chinese magazine industry, for many times.     

It is learnt that this year, Shanghai Pictorial possessing abundant and precious picture materials, will cooperate with Shanghai Shentong Metro Co., Ltd. and hold a photographic exhibition commemorating its publication of Issue 300 in the interchange concourse of People's Square metro station, leading Shanghai citizens to review Shanghai’s past history and bright future through static light and shade.         

Transition and Development of Traditional Pictorial

With the increasingly rapid tempo of social life, almost the entire reading circle begins to accept the concept of Picture-reading Era. For Shanghai Pictorial whose strength is in pictures, this means both an opportunity and a challenge. And veteran publishers feel pressures from the overwhelming New Media Age as well.      

Shanghai Pictorial has already established its own Wechat App. And the column Micro-photo of Shanghai--Photo of the Day won a great number of page-views by posting an exquisite photo of Shanghai every day. Though with not so many users, its official micro blog still becomes a good interaction platform for studies and communications of photography circle.        

When it comes to the future development of Shanghai Pictorial, a person in charge of editorial department says:”  Although the city and the time are undergoing changes and transformation, readers’ requirements for good reading materials will never change. No matter how the platform changes, we should always insist on presenting good themes and good content.” 

(Source: Jing’an Times)