While some of China's top theme parks, such as Universal Beijing Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort, have banned the entry of unauthorized professional photographers, a trend called photo buddies has arisen among young Chinese travelers. These so-called photo buddies are mostly local amateur enthusiasts and students majoring in photography, who offer quality photography services at a relatively low price.
This newfangled service is rooted in the fusion of two wider trends. One is the dazi culture, which refers to China's Gen Z linking up with random strangers who share their hobbies and interests on social media. The other is travel photography, which often involves taking an entire camera crew on a trip and playing local dress-up in front of picturesque backdrops to capture post-worthy shots.
A photo buddy is at once a photographer capable of producing better photos than the average rookie, a travel dazi with the potential of becoming a friend, and oftentimes a tour guide, who is familiar with the surroundings and can therefore offer useful traveling tips.
Many issues are yet to be addressed: Extra fees may be charged; scammers may easily disguise themselves as photo buddies; the quality of the final images might not be guaranteed. Therefore, rules and standards should be set up to safeguard the healthy growth of this newly emerging trend.
(Eastday.com, August 19)