Profile: Snapshot of a senior shutterbug's day

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-19 09:30:22|Editor: Xiaoxia
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BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Liu Xuejing, 63, now has an even fuller life after retirement, as she divides her time between being a grandmother and an amateur photographer.

Just after 6 a.m., she gets up to make soybean milk for her 3-year-old grandson. After breakfast, she usually goes to the wet market near her home in downtown Beijing to shop for groceries -- she has to cook another two meals for the family.

At 9 a.m., Liu often takes her grandson to a nearby library. The little boy likes to read picture books about cars, and she knows exactly where to find them.

While she reads, she cannot help but take out her phone and snap pictures of her grandson.

Shortly after 11 a.m., she starts to cook lunch for the family. When the boy falls asleep, she takes a nap herself -- but not for long. Soon she turns on the computer and begins to indulge herself in her work.

One evening there was heavy rain. Early the next morning, she rushed to the Forbidden City with her cameras.

"There hadn't been much rain this summer in Beijing, so I could not miss this opportunity to get photographs of the rain-washed Palace Museum," she said.

She took more than 2,000 photos in half a day.

Sitting in front of the computer, she picks the top 200 and then carefully retouches 20 out of the whittled-down selection.

Her desk is surrounded by boxes of photo magazines, albums and equipment. She has bought three tripods, four single-lens reflex cameras and eight camera lenses of various kinds.

She says the light was not strong enough on that cloudy day so the first step is to brighten the photos before clipping them for a second composition.

Meanwhile, she drags some photos into a WeChat group for ideas and suggestions from her shutterbug friends.

Eventually, she posts nine photos of the Palace Museum that she is most satisfied with on her WeChat account.

When 5 p.m. rolls around, she begins preparing dinner. As she cooks, she keeps an eye on her phone.

"I want to see how many 'likes' I get and reply comments under the photos," she says, looking out of the kitchen window habitually.

"Look at the sunset! I have to take a photo right now!" She exclaims.

Right next to the chopping board lie two cameras -- a telephoto and a wide-angle.

With a cooking utensil in one hand and camera in the other, she captures the skyline of Beijing enveloped by the sunset's glow.

Liu retired from a hospital nine years ago. In her diary there is an entry titled "I don't want to say goodbye," which was filled with her senses of loss and sadness from retiring.

Two months later, as a lover of photography and a beginner photographer who had only taken two introductory lectures organized by the photography association of the hospital, she bought her first digital single-lens reflex camera.

"Now, I'm so thankful that I have retired," she says while unfolding her albums she printed for herself. The four albums are records of her footprints in over 60 Chinese cities and two dozen foreign countries.

Flipping over the albums, she recounts her adventures behind the photos. She rode a motorcycle under the sea in Australia, enjoyed a feast in Burj Al Arab in Dubai, took a submarine ride in Hawaii and shot Niagara Falls in every direction from the Canada-United States border.

"When I travel abroad, I prefer to wander around and take photos than shopping in outlets," she says.

After dinner, Liu, who is also a sports enthusiast, watches a 2019 FIBA World Cup game and leaves her phone on as an online photography course is about to begin.

She has subscribed to some online paid courses taught by famous Chinese photographer Li Shaobai, who is especially famous for his Forbidden City photos. As she watches the sports game, she keeps one eye on Li's online teaching.

At 9 p.m., after she finishes watching the game and the course, and she turns on the computer again to screen out the photos.

"Next year marks the 10th anniversary of me setting foot in photography. I plan to have an album of the Palace Museum."

Last year, she shot the first World Ice Dragon Boat Championship held in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. One of her photos was even published by the People's Daily, one of the most widely circulated newspapers in China.

There were about 250 million people aged 60 and above in China at the end of 2018, accounting for about 18 percent of the country's total population.

Like Liu, more and more people in China have begun to enjoy life, cultivate hobbies and fulfill their dreams after retirement.

In the foreword of one of her albums she wrote: "By chance I broke into the world of photography after retirement. I began to enjoy the limitless joy of pressing the camera shutter. With a camera on my shoulder and suitcase in my hand, I will keep traveling around and recording the world."

"This is the retired life I want," she says.