As an American-born Chinese who did not fully recognize my cultural heritage, doing Chinese bride portraits was not considered for my wedding. Growing up, I actively rejected my Chinese roots because I honestly felt embarrassed. This was partly because I didn’t come into contact with many other Asians when I was young and was teased about being different. In retrospect, I think another factor was the lack of representation of strong and desirable Asian Americans in the mainstream media. I didn’t think about it that much as a kid, but in these impressive years, seeing people who look like you are being portrayed in a positive way definitely makes a difference. This lack of representation inspired me to experiment with Chinese bride portraits to create beautiful images.
In recent years, elaborate wedding portraits have become very popular in China. There are many companies out there that accommodate couples in all-day shots with hair and makeup, multiple wardrobe changes, and elaborate sets. This isn’t all that common in the United States, and while recreating the experience one might have overseas wasn’t my goal at all, I wanted to offer an option to a bride interested in bringing her Chinese culture into portrait photography to include visual arts.
The cheongsam or qipao is the classic dress that Chinese brides usually wear during the tea ceremony or as an evening reception gown. This beautiful traditional dress is unmistakably Chinese and it looks so eye-catching in photos. In this bride portrait shoot, I wanted to use the majestic feel of the dress to highlight the beauty of the bride. I love juxtaposing an object that represents thousands of years of history with a modern woman ready to take on the world.
Taking these Chinese bridal portraits also transformed me because I can tell you now that a younger Caroline would not have appreciated the beauty of the cheongsam. I would have made fun of how old-fashioned it looked and gone for something a little more contemporary. Bringing these images alive reminded me that honoring your roots is important and that you can do it in a beautiful and modern way. If you are thinking of taking Chinese bridal portraits or are interested in weaving elements of your culture into an art portrait session, I’d love to help!
Contact me today!