All images by Elsa Bleda. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Cities bathed in neon glow is certainly one of our favorite approaches to street photography and the neon trend itself, and we’re sure we share this with a lot of our readers. Today, we’re adding one more beautiful set to the batch: Johannesburg-based Elsa Bleda’s surreal snaps of her city’s Chinatown gleaming in eerie neon at midnight. If you’re looking for some inspiration for cityscapes or capturing your town’s very own Chinatown, this set would be an instant starting point.
Busy metropolises and their Chinatowns around the world are among the most popular (and perfect) places for the neon look. But so far, we’ve seen and featured the usual spots: Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul, for example. So it’s definitely interesting to glimpse the Chinatown in South Africa’s largest city in this vibrant treatment.
Bleda’s choice to prowl her city’s streets at midnight is also reminiscent of Mark Broyer’s colorful After Hours in Hamburg. Without all the rush of activity and energy that we see in many cityscape snaps, it’s easy to zoom in on the details and take in the sights differently. Her choice of colors, for example, make her Chinatown snaps take on a different, more surreal mood than Broyer’s. In many of the photos, there’s a tinge of eerie atmosphere in the empty streets, vacant alleys, closed shops, and partly open windows. Browsing through the set feels a little like taking a stroll around a strange deserted town that probably lights up only once midnight strikes.
Ultimately, what also makes this set fascinating is that it proves how Chinatowns around the world take on the same look, feel, and aesthetics, and that’s not just because of the abundance of Chinese characters.
Check out Elsa Bleda’s Behance portfolio to see more of her photography.