After viewing news photographs from China for years, one of my favorite visual themes is "large crowd formations." Whether the subject is military parades or world-record attempts, mass exercises or enormous performances, the images are frequently remarkable. The masses of people can look beautiful or intimidating, projecting a sense of strength and abundance. Individuals can become pixels in a huge painting, or points on a grid, or echoes of each other in identical uniforms or costumes. I've gathered some of these images below, taken around China over the past several years. (Note: a few of these images can create a dizzying effect when viewed while scrolling, which is fun, but could be surprising.)
Chinese People's Liberation Army sailors march past Tiananmen Square during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 2009 in Beijing.
Feng Li / Getty Images
A group of 1,000 customers receive a facial massage at a sports center in Jinan, Shandong province, China, on May 4, 2015. The group of 1,000 women were given a 30 minute facial beauty treatment together, achieving a Guinness world record for the largest group of people having beauty treatment in the same location, according to local media.
Students of Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School are suspended in mid-air as they practice in a rehearsal for a stunt performance for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, at a stadium in Nanjing on August 9, 2014.
Entertainers perform with their Fou drums, ancient Chinese percussion instruments, during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008.
Christophe Simon / AFP / Getty Images
Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Aviation stand at attention during a training session at the 60th National Day Parade Village on the outskirts of Beijing on September 15, 2009.
Joe Chan / Reuters
Parents of students sleep on mats laid out on the floor of a gymnasium inside a university campus in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province in this picture taken on September 3, 2007.
Performers participate in the closing ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing on August 24, 2008.
David Guttenfelder / AP
Participants perform Chinese Taiji boxing during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the third World Traditional Wushu Championship in Shiyan, Hubei province, on October 24, 2008.
Chinese paramilitary soldiers line up by a sweeper near the National Aquatic Center while swimmers are in a practice session for the Beijing 2008 Olympics on August 6, 2008.
Itsuo Inouye / AP
Schoolchildren perform morning exercises at their school in Shanghai on October 14, 2009.
Nir Elias / Reuters
Tai Lihua (center), art director of China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe, leads deaf dancers to perform "Thousand-hand Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva", or "Guan Yin", a Chinese goddess, in Suining, Sichuan province on June 30, 2009. Feeling music through speakers and guided by hand gestures, the troupe takes steps to champion the rights of disabled people around the world.
More than 1,000 Paramilitary policemen take part in an exercise in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on September 2, 2014.
Reuters / China Daily
Chinese military air force members practice marching at a camp in Beijing on September 10, 2009.
Ng Han Guan / AP
Police from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team take part in an anti-terrorist drill in Dongying, Shandong province, on July 11, 2014.
Students of Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School are suspended in mid-air as they practice in a dress rehearsal for a stunt performance for the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, at a stadium in Nanjing on August 14, 2014.
hundreds of police officers stand alongside brand new police vehicles provided by local government to ensure public security over the New Year holidays during a handover ceremony in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on December 30, 2009.
Students perform martial arts during a competition at a high school in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on October 20, 2011.
Sean Yong / Reuters
Students of Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School participate in a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, at a stadium in Nanjing on August 9, 2014. A total of 520 students took part in the performance named "building the dream."
Percussionists perform with their fou drums, ancient Chinese percussion instruments, during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008.
Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy march in formation during a training session at the 60th National Day Parade Village on the outskirts of Beijing on September 15, 2009.
Joe Chan / Reuters
Pregnant women practice yoga as they attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest prenatal yoga class, in Changsha, Hunan province, on June 8, 2014. A total of 505 pregnant women participated in a yoga class together for 37 minutes and 28 seconds on Sunday, exceeding the current Guinness World Record set in Shenzhen in 2013 with 423 women, local media reported.
Reuters / China Daily
Students take an examination on an open-air playground at a high school in Yichuan, Shaanxi province, on April 11, 2015. More than 1,700 freshmen students took part in the exam, which was the first attempt by the school to take it in open-air. The school said the reason was due to the insufficient indoor space and also that it could also be a test of the students' organizing capacity.
People's Liberation Army soldiers perform during a rehearsal of a musical drama entitled "The Road of Revival" at a gymnasium in Beijing on August 19, 2009.
Kevin Zhao / Reuters
An honor guard is prepared for a welcoming ceremony for Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2013.
Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images
An all-Chinese women militia marches past during the National Day parade in Beijing on October 1, 2009.
Goh Chai Hin / AFP / Getty Images
Paramilitary recruits form a heart pattern to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 14, 2010, the same day as Valentine's Day, during a photo opportunity at an army base in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on February 10, 2010.
Reuters / China Daily
Paramilitary policemen salute as they attend a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on October 1, 2014.
Performers and dancers are seen around a scroll during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympics on August 8, 2008.
Julie Jacobson / AP
Police officers line up prior to the opening ceremony in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on August 8, 2008.
Charlie Riedel / AP
Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai on July 16, 2011.
Issei Kato / Reuters
University students perform Chinese Taiji, a traditional form of Chinese martial arts, during a ceremony to celebrate the upcoming National Day in Nanjing on September 25, 2009.
Jeff Xu / Reuters
Soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army ground force march in formation past Tiananmen Square during a massive parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 2009.
Jason Lee / Reuters
Participants perform Taiji during a public fitness activity at the Olympic Central Park in Beijing on August 14, 2010.
Jason Lee / Reuters
Thousands of soldiers of Jiangsu Armed Police Force attend an oath ceremony for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games protection on July 29, 2014 in Nanjing, China.
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Students stand in formation on a field as they form a smiley face in an attempt to break a world record in celebration of the 110th anniversary of their university in Nanjing on April 27, 2012. A total of 3,110 students from Nanjing Agricultural University broke the Guinness World Record for World Largest Smiley Face, overtaking the last world record of 2,961 volunteers in Canada on July 2011, local media reported.