Tag Archives: nanjing photo shoot

Engagement Photos from Nanjing to Inner Mongolia *FINALLY*

Hello my dears,

very sorry for my prolonged absence, which I cannot excuse. All I have to say for myself is that I have busy with a couple of other projects, but more on that in the next post. In the meantime, Jocelyn’s recent post on WWAM BAM!, which collected some amazing wedding and engagement photos inspired me to set up this long, long overdue post – a best of of the engagement pictures we took in May and August 2015. We basically had two photo sessions, one in Nanjing which had been extensively researched and which I have also written about at length, and a second spontaneous one in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia just three days before our Chinese wedding. So without much ado, here are the pictures, and some tidbits about the shoots, hope you enjoy them!

Round 1: Western Glam and Old Shanghai in Nanjing


After weeks of research, I decided to book the engagement picture shoot in Nanjing, rather than Beijing, since we would get double the value for half the price. We started at 8am and finished around 6pm, had 7 different sets of clothes and 14 locations – 2 per each costume – 300 pictures taken, half of those retouched, 3 print-out photo albums and more framed pictures and nicknacks than we knew what do with; and all of this for merely 3200 RMB from Bazaar Photography.


It’s not so obvious in this pic, but my makeup artist/hairdresser was an absolute genius with a brush and comb, she is the only person who has ever managed this elegant hairdo, and I have tried to get it replicated twice – no one else can do it.


We had two Chinese-style costumes and five Western ones, which was a bit of a shame, because the Hanfu set and the Old Shanghai ones are definitely the highlight of the Nanjing bunch. The picture used in Jocelyn’s group post is probably my favourite out of all of them.

5H7A9257 60寸白色浪漫 (1)

The indoor pictures were taken at the company’s photography villa – a massive two story mansion that has around 20 to 30 different indoor sets, all of which have varied themes. Street cafe, library, church – you name it, they’ve replicated it in small scale in this human-sized dollhouse.


This is the masterpiece and the reason I chose to stick with Nanjing rather than the Northern capital. I love old Shanghai style and had seen some stunningly beautiful pictures online of brides-to-be in their Qipaos, with 1930s themed locations that just oozed elegance, history and a mix of Chinese and Western culture – so us, no? Looking at some of the wedding photography in Beijing, I did get the feeling that my Chinese friends’ repeated warning that Northerners can’t do a “Southern style” like Old Shanghai seemed to have at least an ounce of truth to it, as they struggled to make it look as glamorous. This hairdo was another one that no one has been able to replicate in that fashion.


Our outdoor shots were taken in Lvbo Yuan, the botanical gardens in Nanjing right next to the Yangtze river. It’s definitely a fave for engagement shoots, as I spotted ten to twenty couples just in our immediate vicinity.


This beauty is the only dress I brought that belonged to me – bring your own also an option in case you’re wondering – and it’s a German dirndl, a nod to my Germanic heritage. Part of this set of pictures was taken in front of the Dutch windmill in Lvbo Yuan, the one sponsored by Eindhoven, so it has a really fun feel to it. But this is probably one of the very few photos that we freestyled – a lot of the shoot was posing very gracefully and glamorously, which was fun but also not really us. So in this final shoot we decided to mess about a bit instead.

Round 2 – Inner Mongolian Grasslands…well, kinda…


After we showed our engagement pictures to my MIL, she then said we should have done some Mongolian style ones. She didn’t have to tell me that twice! For this shoot, we rented the outfits from a genuine Mongolian dress shop and so they were much more high quality than the slightly tatty ones in Nanjing. Big thanks to my MIL, whose wedding treat this was.


Absolutely adored the colour of this dress and the pearls used as head decoration, still one of my favourite outfits to this day.


And then we got a horse…as you do. Feeling so Mongolian princess 😉


In the background is the Mongolian yurt in which I got to change my outfits while repeatedly banging my head on the beams. It was a new sensation, I’m 1.55m tall, I don’t hit beams often.  This is finally the matching dress to fit Mr Li’s outfit, the poor man didn’t get to change his clothes once (for which he is probably grateful at heart). Oh and btw, we weren’t actually out in the grasslands but rather a patch of grass that belonged to the photo studio.


And now for the final reveal – my parents joined the fun and so did my MIL. We had such a good time together, it was the best day! I think all of us make fabulous Mongolians, don’t you? Especially my dad. Watch out Genghis Khan, you have competition!

Where did you take your engagement pics? Did you dress up in local costumes?

The Engagement Pictures (Part 2) – Nipples, Rubber Breasts and Shaved Eyebrows

CAUTION, this post is rather explicit, as you might have surmised from the title.

I can’t believe it we actually made it. We managed to take our wedding pictures. In a word…it was surreal! And also fabulous, but mostly surreal.

We had to be in Jiangning, the most Southern part of the town by 8am. Being used to Chinese punctuality we set of slightly late, I was sure it wouldn’t be a big deal. We arrived at 8:10am to find the employees in a frenzy and the best dresses already picked off by all the other couples in the room – a whole group as it turned out later. I guess I should have listened when they kept saying to be on time.

In a rush, I was told to chose seven dresses for the shoot. Luckily, my hair and make-up stylist was a very lovely and reasonable person, who assisted me without forcing her own opinion on me. She even allowed me try on the qipaos, and luckily so. As I rightly feared, it was not an easy feat to find one of the tight-cut dresses made for slight Chinese figures to fit my pear-shaped body. While I managed to squeeze my backside into one of the shorter dresses, my fat got pushed down and squished out from under the edge of the dress. It was a horror show. In the end, a white, long qipao with 青花瓷 Chinese porcelain jars and jugs was just about acceptable. Great, hurdle one mastered.

After Loulou, the stylist, ran a straightening iron through my hair while the photographer, a stick-thin Dongbei bro with a funky tattoo on his upper arm, picked out seven outfits for Mr.Li, matching, and I lose the term loosely, the dress choices I had made.

Then we were all whisked off even further South, I doubt the place can even rightly call itself Nanjing anymore, to their big photo villa in a van with another happy couple and their stylist and photographer plus countless bags stuffed with clothes, accessories and props.

At the villa, it was time for make-up, as part of which Loulou shaved off a majority of my eyebrows only to paint on ones twice as thick as my natural ones. I assume they will grow back by the time of the wedding, in the meantime I look a little bit like a wannabe-gangster. She further stuck on not two, not three, but FOUR layers of fake eyelashes, the aftereffects of which I would experience for the next few days as the masses of glue with which she attached them kept causing my natural lashes to stick to my upper eyelid once the fake ones had been removed, causing a very uncomfortable sensation.

sticky push-up breasts

After the eyebrow shave came the first outfit. This was the time when the rubber breasts came into play, a sticky, wobbly push-up construct, that is slapped onto your bare breasts and then hooked up in the middle. After relieving myself of my garments in order to undergo the slapping-on, I got which will without a doubt be the strangest compliment of my entire life.

“You have pretty nipples”, says LouLou, my stylist. Well, thank you very much, I wasn’t aware. I love how in China it is not considered strange or rude to make very intimate observations about complete stranger’s bodies. In most cases they are more along the upsetting line of “You are fat”, yet every so often you get the most fascinating compliments. “Thank you, dear stranger who I met an hour ago, for this observation.” Gotta love China.

After squeezing into the first dress, I noticed a rather ugly panty line showing, despite the fact that I had tried to wear one of the non-show ones. In the end, I decided the chance of me toppling over in my way-too-high heels and revealing my lady parts to the Chinese public were slim enough to risk going without. The things we do for a non-panty lined picture. I have to admit it was a new sensation as I usually never go “full freedom” under my dresses, and not one I cared for much. Once again the end justifies the means.

Then Mr.Li marched out in his first outfit and I thought my nightmares had come true. While I was wearing a lovely baby-blue dress of light material, the photographer had selected a bright blue jacket, white pants and a yellow shirt for Mr. Li. Yes, yellow. He looked like a parrot. It was all I could do to remark upon how foreigners and Chinese have a very different feeling for matching colours and pray that the next outfits would be a bit less clown-like. Luckily, they were. Phew.

The final highlight of the day was when Loulou literally sewed me into one of the tighter dresses that I could not fit into. I know for a fact that this is a very common thing with these photo shoots, otherwise I might have been terribly upset and ended up feeling like a whale. As it was, I just accepted my fate and tried not to pass out as I could barely breathe.

white qipao with procelain republic of china style

In total we did seven different outfits, ranging from summery blue evening dress, to Han style, classic white wedding dress and of course the Old Shanghai style I had been obsessing about. The team of two asked me in the morning to show them the style I wanted. After I did, they kept saying in very worried voices that our pictures would not be exactly like that. I have seen this happen a few times, that people offering creative services will get really nervous when you show them examples of what you are looking for. Apparently some local customers get aggravated if the result is not 100% identical to the original photo. I found that idea very strange, after all of course the set is going to be different than the one of the photo studio in another province, which provided the inspiration. If I wanted it to be exactly the same, I would have to go to Sichuan province. It seems Chinese customers have a lot higher expectations than I do.

Overall and to my slight surprise, I was very happy with the whole service. Granted some of the dresses were a little dirty, but what else can you expect when you pay a bargain – as it seems we have managed to get the lowest price in the country at 3700 RMB for 250 pictures (half of which will receive post-tweaking). Our Team of Two, LouLou and the tattoed Dongbei photographer, were incredibly patient and very helpful without being too pushy. This might have once again been down to the Laowai Bonus, as Mr.Li observed that the other photographers were a lot ruder to the other customers.

Mr.Li himself was as good as gold, and despite the fact that both of us were almost toppling over by the end of the day, 11 hours after had arrived in Jiangning, he was in surprisingly high spirits.

The weather could not have been more perfect either, as we managed to get into that tiny spring window. It seems that all the worrying and rescheduling paid off in the end.

Now, all that remains is for me to go and chose the photos I want and hope that the quality is fairly good. Though I got a sneak peek of some of Dongbei dude’s work and it looked promising.

This was probably the most tiring but also the happiest day that I have had in years. So thank you Mr.Li for being so tough and giving me a fabulous day to remember.