Breathtaking rooftop photography shows Shanghai like you’ve never seen it before

Dec 15, 2019

Photographer Ray Koo sneaks into buildings, climbs rooftops, and flies drones just to get the best shots of his hometown.

Log onto Instagram these days, and you’ll probably run into pictures like these.

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As China’s cities grow bigger and bigger, and the buildings get taller and taller, they’ve become a popular destination for urban photographers.

Ray Koo is one of them. He’s known for his breathtaking shots of Shanghai’s cityscape, and his work has amassed a following of over 50,000 on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The photographer is constantly roaming the city for inspiration. He climbs rooftops, donning the protective gear of a professional climber, and even sneaks into buildings to get the kind of shots few others can access.

“When it’s just you on a rooftop, you’re able to see the whole city, its hustle and bustle.”

Ray Koo

“I spend my free time exploring buildings,” he says. “When it’s just you on a rooftop, you’re able to see the whole city, its hustle and bustle, all the people and cars down there. You enjoy the moment.”

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Koo says he started getting attention in 2016 when Instagram recommended his account to users. From there, his follower base grew.

“A lot of my followers on Instagram are cityscape fans or professional photographers,” he says. “I often get inspired from the comments under my posts and responding to them. It’s a learning process for me, too.”

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For Koo, his best piece of advice for photographers is to be patient.

“A lot of times when you see a nice spot, you have to wait for the best moment to take the photo.”

Ray Koo

“A lot of times when you see a nice spot, you have to wait for the best moment to take the photo,” he says. “I’ll usually mark it down and come back later when it’s the right time.”

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And Shanghai, with its blend of traditional Chinese and modern Western architecture, is the perfect playground for a photographer like Koo.

“Shanghai is a very diverse city,” he says. “It’s a clash of different eras. You can see different time periods in one frame.”

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PhotographyShanghai

Credit

Director/Producer: Nicholas Ko

Graphics: Ray Ngan

Additional Footage: Nathaniel Brown and Yifei Shao

Mastering: Victor Peña