The world’s top-earning professional photographers have a growing number of jobs in China, as China’s economy has boomed and new industries emerge.
In a bid to increase their productivity, they’re finding new opportunities to increase pay, with the likes of a freestyle photographer earning an average of $5,800 (£3,300) per year in Shanghai, and the equivalent of $9,000 (£6,500) in Hong Kong, according to data compiled by the Beijing-based Shanghai Photographic Industry Association.
The jobs are predominantly in photojournalism, and are typically held by photographers from top universities in China.
“The main reasons for their success are: The increasing number of students entering into photojournalistic professions; The growing demand for high-quality photography materials; and the growth of digital photography, particularly in China,” the association wrote.
Many photographers are earning a living as freelancers, and their earnings can fluctuate widely depending on the availability of photos and the quality of the material.
But the growing popularity of these jobs is putting pressure on the number of professional photographers working in China’s booming cities.
“There are some jobs which are considered more attractive,” said Xiao Xiaohui, an assistant professor at the University of Shanghai’s School of Photography.
“Photographers are working on freelance assignments for a few months and then going back to their regular jobs after that.”
The rise of freelancers is part of a broader shift in China that is pushing many professionals to move abroad to avoid social ostracism.
The government has stepped up the enforcement of strict rules against the production of fake news, and it has been cracking down on “foreign influence” in China in an effort to keep a lid on the Chinese internet.
In 2014, the country’s foreign ministry said that it had cracked down on more than 10 million foreign websites and more than 200,000 “extremist” websites.
“We have identified many more fake websites that pose as government websites,” said the foreign ministry in a statement at the time.
“As a result, the ministry has been conducting targeted investigations to ensure that foreign websites do not pose a threat to national security.”
In 2015, China launched a crackdown on social media, limiting access to the social media platform WeChat, and blocking access to Twitter.
In 2016, the government tightened the regulations on social networks to prevent people from creating “fake” accounts and from sharing content that could be harmful to national interests.
And in May, it launched a new online censorship regime, including a new law that would force any content published in Chinese-language newspapers, magazines and other publications to be approved by the government.
The law came in response to a series of online posts in 2017, which the government said were intended to spread “false news” about the Chinese government.
“In 2017, there were some false reports about Chinese government officials,” said Yang Zhenhua, a senior research fellow at the Shanghai-based China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
“It’s hard to know how many of them are fake but they are all spreading false information about the government.”
In the latest crackdown, the authorities imposed a new one-year online reporting ban on the country, including websites, websites and apps that “distribute false information, propagate illegal information, or promote a criminal group”.
In May, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that a person who was convicted of “false propaganda” for spreading false news about the state had been sentenced to five years in prison.
In October, Xinhua reported that the country had begun to crack down on foreign “fake news” sites.
China has also tightened the rules around social media platforms in recent months.
Last year, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) banned the use of the microblogging platform Weibo for promoting state propaganda.
The agency also said it was shutting down microblog accounts of certain news sites, including the Global Times and People’s Daily.
In January, the Ministry of Public Security ordered the removal of all microblog comments and posts containing “anti-state” content, including comments that were “false, inflammatory, insulting or provocative”.
In a statement on its website in November, the SAPPRFT said it had taken measures to clamp down on fake news websites and social media posts, as well as those “whose content promotes terrorism, separatism, extremism or the ideology of terrorism”.
In the past year, many of the websites shut down were run by pro-government media organisations.
“This has led to a growing pressure on online platforms to remove or delete pro-state content and to remove pro-China content as well,” said Chen Xiaoyi, an associate professor at Lijian University.
“That pressure has become particularly significant with the recent crackdown on pro-democracy content on social networking sites.”
In addition to tightening censorship, some online platforms are also being targeted by government pressure.
Last month, the Shanghai government