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Shutterbug in Northeast China records growing winter sport popularity

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-12-27 11:45

Zhang Jian(below), is the chief of the photography team at Songhua Lake Resort in Jilin city, Northeast China's Jilin province.[Photo/Xinhua]

A skier was skimming across the slope before suddenly stopping with snowflakes stirred up. It happened within seconds, but the images had been recorded by a photographer not far away with a succession of shots.

This photographer, Zhang Jian, is the chief of the photography team at Songhua Lake Resort in Jilin city, Northeast China's Jilin province. Since being introduced to the industry, this ski and photography enthusiast felt his job was perfect and tailor-made for him.

"The thrill of speed and the desire to push one's limits are the charms of skiing, of which photography is the best carrier," he said.

An art major, Zhang, a native of Jinlin province, landed a job at a ski resort as a staff member in 2010. Seeing that more skiers wanted photos on the snow, he believed it was an opportunity. He worked hard to improve his skiing and photo skills.

In 2015, Zhang became one of the first contracted photographers in China's "Hey Snow" application, providing skiers with photography services. In 2018, he took the lead in setting up a ski photography studio called Snow.

Throughout the years, he witnessed the growing demand in ski photography and the popularization of winter sports in China, boosted by the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

During the snow season in 2021-2022, Zhang's team uploaded a total of 3.82 million photos, 23 times more than in 2018-2019, with sales exceeding 1 million yuan (about $140,845). He expects to see a new record this season.

According to its provincial tourism industry development program, Jilin has 75 ski resorts and 319 snow trails. The province plans to raise snow and ice tourism revenue to 500 billion yuan within five years.

According to Zhang, ski enthusiasts are becoming younger. "In the past, the skiers were mostly youngsters," he said. "Now, many young couples who love skiing themselves bring their children here to cultivate their interest in the sport."

Since the beginning of this snow season, his photography team's schedule has been almost fully occupied. Apart from local skiers, he saw more enthusiasts from other parts of China, for whom the experience is valuable to be recorded in photos.

Ski enthusiast Cheng Yang, from Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu province, told Xinhua she and her friends go skiing yearly. In the past, they used to go to Japan or Europe. But now, with the rapid development of the winter sports industry and infrastructure in domestic ski resorts, they have changed their destination to Jilin or Xinjiang.

This year, she has just ordered a few photos. "In the past, skiers used to take photos for each other, and the quality was not ensured," she said. "Now that we have professional photographers here, taking photos has become a necessary part of my skiing experience, and I am glad to share them on social media."

Satisfaction of the skiers is what Zhang and his colleagues want to see.

"The photographer might have to stand on the slope for hours to capture a perfect moment of a skier," he said. "It is the biggest achievement for photographers to record wonderful memories for skiers through photos."

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