A zine or a mag is typically something created at home or designed outside of the traditional publisher realm, which Shanghai Streets certainly is. Still, if I were to put it on my shelf, it’d go in the “magazine” section as that’s what it feels like to me. Marked as issue #1, this periodical features a number of mini photo stories, highlighting Lee Webb’s life adventures in one of the largest cities in China. Printed as a part of MFL Zine series, where MFL stands for My Favourite Lens — Lee’s photography blog.
Lee’s magazine is living proof that one does not need the sharpest lens and the most expensive camera on the planet to create a beautiful street photography print. The entire series was created with Canon Sure Shot AF-7 on his favourite Rollei Retro 400. The booklet is printed entirely in black and white, measuring 8¼” by 5¼” on 54 pages — including the covers. With a slight teal tint, the ink is laid on coated paper that feels like 30lb for inner pages and perhaps 60lb for the cover pages. Printed by MagCloud and sold at 12.99 USD.
The photography featured in Lee’s magazine, for the most part, consists of street portraits with only two shots devoid of faces. An Englishman, he spent years living as a foreigner in China, which I imagine has given him a “fresh” perspective over scenes that the locals may not find interesting. Indeed, the images that decorate the pages are not at all cliché tourist snaps. Lee’s photographs are curiously mundane: seeking objects and events of interest deep within the Shanghainese daily life.
Having spent six months living in China, I found Lee’s images particularly captivating as Shanghai is one city I didn’t get to visit. I used his work to connect my travel experience with his visual diary to imagine what it would be like. I loved that.