Shanghai in an Instant – a Fujifilm Instax Project

instax project in shanghai

If you’ve seen any of the film photo essays I usually publish here, you’ve probably noticed from that first image that this one is going to be a little different.

I’d wanted to do some sort of instant photography project since I bought my better half a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 as a gift a while ago. As you can probably gather, I finally got around to it.

The idea was pretty simple. Shoot some places and people in Shanghai and then take a picture of the Instax shot on my phone with its own subject in the background. I ended up doing this with one pack each of colour and monochrome film.

Now this post is letting you know how it turned out. And if it makes you want to do some Instax project of your own, whatever that may be, have a look on Amazon for the latest camera prices, as well as the film you’ll need too.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, Smokey White
  • Takes 2 AA batteries
  • New selfie mirror; Picture size: 62 x 46 millimeter and shutter speed 1 per 60 seconds (fixed), the flash always fire
  • New macro lens adapter for close ups 35 centimeters to 50 centimeters

Some of Shanghai on Instax Colour Film

This project ended up including a bunch of Shanghai’s more famous sights, although I wasn’t traversing the city just for these shots.

There’s another project I was shooting that was taking me to a lot of these places, so I thought I’d multitask and get this Instax Mini project done at the same time.

It took a few days of following a route set out with locations batched to minimise travel and also with the direction of the light at different times of the day in mind.

These first shots, taken on Instax Mini colour film, are of the Oriental Pearl Tower, outside Jing’an Temple, looking across the river towards the Bund, at the China Art Museum at the old World Expo site, and on the Old Street near Yuyuan Garden.

pearl tower instax
jingan temple instax

shanghai bund on instax

china art museum

shanghai old street

Another instant photography project I’ve seen done is going up to people and taking their portraits. There were a few factors why I didn’t want to do that here, though.

The main one was having to navigate that awkward couple of minutes it takes for the photograph to develop if I wanted to get a picture of the recipient holding it. I really don’t have the Chinese language skills to kill that much time.

However, after a man in Fuxing Park had invited me to kick his shuttlecock back and forth with him for a bit, it felt like I should get at least one portrait into this thing. So that’s what I did, and he got an Instax picture to take home with him.

The other locations below are a street in the Former French Concession, a statue in the Longhua Martyrs’ Memorial Park, and the pagoda at Longhua Temple.

instax portrait shanghai

longhua memorial park instax

longhua temple pagoda instax

More of Shanghai on Instax Monochrome Film

After getting halfway through that pack of colour film, I realised I wanted to shoot a pack of monochrome too. This thing wouldn’t have felt as complete without using both.

The idea actually made me rethink my route a little, as I had to decide which places would look better in black and white and which in the originally-planned colour.

The Park Hotel in the very first image on this post is a good example of that, with its dark exterior and Art Deco profile. I thought a shot along the Bund would have a vintage look in monochrome too, although it came out a little overexposed.

The Bund Bull fared better, as did a view along East Nanjing Road and a well-lit scene in Shanghai’s very central People’s Park.

shanghai bund instax

bund bull instax

east nanjing road instax

shanghai people's park instax

As well the buildings, objects and wider street views we’ve mainly seen so far, I did want to include some people in this project too.

So, after shooting a bunch of bicycles lined up against a wall in a way that looked like they might give good light and shadow, that’s what I did.

The basketball court and the man on the walkway are both in Xujiahui Park, with the latter being one of the few times I tried to really line up the Instax shot to mesh with the background.

I finished the pack of film with a couple in my own neighbourhood of Qibao, with another street style shot and a final one of the bridge that I seem to capture every time I try a new camera.

bicycles instax mono

basketball court instax

insatx monochrome street photography

qibao old street instax

qibao bridge instax

Shooting your own Instax project

So that’s my Instax project, but what about yours? Or, if you’ve never considered doing one, why perhaps should you?

All I can do to answer that is tell you what I got from mine. The obvious thing to say would be the collection of actual, physical photographs that I have to remind me of my time in Shanghai.

But I think more than that would be the fun I had doing it. Because if you don’t have that, then what’s the point? I enjoyed planning the locations and the route, and I enjoyed being out there completing it.

Your own Instax project could be based on anything, and Fujifilm have a bunch of suggestions right here. The travel diary one is something I could see myself doing; using photos for shoe organisation much, much less so.

The Instax Mini 9 that I shot all this with uses credit card sized film. If you want something bigger to get more in your shots, you could look at an Instax Square or an Instax Wide instead.

And you don’t even have to go with a Fujifilm camera, if for any reason you don’t want to. Lomography have brought us a few options, while the Polaroid OneStep is there should you want to go all-time old-school and shoot a Polaroid project instead.

There’s even a red dot option with the Leica Sofort for those of you with more money than me. All of these have more features than the basic Mini 9 I used and reviewed here, as do plenty of other Instax models.

So you have options. Plenty of instant cameras to choose from and plenty of instant photography project ideas to get your teeth into.

I did mine around Shanghai. Again, the question now is, what about yours?  🙂

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, Smokey White
  • Takes 2 AA batteries
  • New selfie mirror; Picture size: 62 x 46 millimeter and shutter speed 1 per 60 seconds (fixed), the flash always fire
  • New macro lens adapter for close ups 35 centimeters to 50 centimeters
  • Automatic exposure measurement; The camera signals the recommended aperture setting with a flashing LED; This helps capture the perfect photo every time; Effective flash range: 0.6 meter 2.7 meter

… p.s. if you enjoyed this instant photography project or got inspired by it and think others will too, why not share or pin it?

written by
Hi, I'm Lee - creator of My Favourite Lens and the one whose work you're seeing whenever you read a post on here.
I shoot as much film as I can in as many different cameras as I can, and I enjoy playing with vintage lenses on digital cameras also.

Everything I do and what I learn along the way gets shared on here, to inform and inspire you to get out and shoot as much - and as well - as you can too.

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