Ok, I finally got my ass down to writing a review of all the photography studios and photographers I’ve worked with, and give recommendations so anyone who’s got a decent command of Mandarin could try them out!
There’re a few that I’ll never visit again, and there’re a few that I think is worth a shot if you know what you want, and for the more advanced level you could get independent photographer(s). Not all do Hanfu photography, in fact only Linsea does proper Hanfu ones. The rest are all categorised as traditional cosplay I feel as they use tv or film kind of styling. But if you’re not particular, it’s alright not to distinguish them for a start~.
You might find it confusing why I would rate lower when some of them were like my more preferred options. The rating is based on a few factors:
- Convenience of location for foreigners to visit
- Services provided
- Variety of dresses available
A few critical factors you need to consider when engaging them:
- Know what style you want and budget
- Speak and read Mandarin Chinese
- Have WeChat
This is listed in Ascending order of preference/recommendation, so the least recommended to my favourite:
6. Jiu Yue Ying Fei 九月鹰飞
Wechat contact: jiuyuezhaoruoyan
I’d rate it: 2/5 overall
Shooting Schedule: Pretty available most of the times, but best to book 2 months before the shoot
Style: Very 90s drama-serial style.
Pros: Affordable, lots of styles to choose from, has quite a number of male characters to choose from so good for couples. You can get them to do outdoor shoots with you, but it’s based on their shooting schedule. They usually gather enough people to do it together.
Cons: I don’t know where to start. You don’t look like yourself, and you actually look quite strange after their PS. There’s no finesse in their photo editing technique, and when/if you look at their original picture, you’d be abhorred by the poor shooting technique/use of lighting. I struggle to find a good picture to share from this place. But it’s good fun for beginners who just wanna have a shot at how it feels to do a historical cosplay before levelling up to more expensive ones. You also have to bear with quite a long waiting time (about 2-3 weeks to a month or so) for photos to be sent to you after editing. During the make-up stage, my eyes keep tearing cos they apply so much make-up to the corner of my eyes, it was quite a torturous experience.
My shoot below:
5. Feng Qi Wu凤栖梧
Wechat contact: fengqiwu1998
I’d rate it: 4/5 overall
Shooting Schedule: relatively still alright, but best to check 2-3months in advance for available slots. Just check before you book your flight!
Style: Only women. A little bit of that.. sultry, brothel style. But definitely very bold colours and composition, and very eye-catching. It’d definitely wow people if they are new to such pictures.
Pros: Very professional make-up artists, Very good lighting, the studio is so professionally run and skilled that you can get the pictures on the spot. You can choose a few pictures to be put into an album with some PS but it’s not going to vary too much from the photos you get right there. They’re that good. You get all the pictures that’s taken.
Cons: A bit brothel style. They’ll make you pay for additional things like better eyelashes, foundation sponge, nicer nails, different types of stick-on tattoos etc. I never liked such kind of pricing cos I find it a bit sneaky, but that’s just me. Their headpieces/fake hairdo is extremely heavy and bulky. Only indoor shoots.
My shoot below:
4. 散兄 (Free-lance photographer)
Wechat contact: zt05070026
Location: Changsha, Hunan province
I’d rate it: 3/5 overall
Shooting Schedule: She does mainly outdoor shoots, so need to check. It’s quite irregular, so best to do it like 2-3months in advance.
Style: She’s a student of a very popular Hanfu photographer in China, and always does styling for the famous photographer’s models as well. It’s quite dreamy and beautifully done because she’s got Chinese painting background.
Pros: She’s very good in post-production, so your pictures definitely would look nice post-production. You also get to keep all the pictures taken.
Cons: Long waiting time for her to edit the selected images that you require post editing. About a month or so. She’s also not seasoned photographer, so it’s not going to be revolutionary. Limited choice of dresses and style.
My shoot below (I did my own photoshop in this case, cos I couldn’t wait for hers–too long, and turns out the ones she edited didn’t differ much from mine so I didn’t bother to keep):
3. 梓摄影 (Zipoto)
Wechat contact: FYZ522082274
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan
I’d rate it: 5/5 overall
Shooting Schedule: Highly popular studio in Chengdu. You have to book sometimes up to half a year in advance!
Style: Of all, I think this studio has the best photographer, lighting, variety and style.
Pros: Consistency in quality. Everyone looks equally good in pictures without much post production. You get to see your pictures second/third day of your shoot (so leave 3 days to be there) then you can choose the pictures you want them to do post-editing. But generally the pictures look already good the way they are, so minimum editing is needed. Also, A LOT of different styles to choose from. They also do outdoor shoots. Actually, you should try if you are there for a longer period to go with them for outdoor ones.
Cons: You only get to keep a fixed number of pictures according to the package you sign up. Anything more, you need to pay. Also, their pricing is extremely complicated. Any variation from your package you need to pay, like extra props, change of dress if you decided to do another one might incur costs as well. Take with friends will be additional cost etc. And also, there’s a little hygiene issue there… I thinks some of the clothes/shoes stink….
My shoot below
2. 成都临溪摄影 (Linsea Studio)
Wechat contact: Linsea-Studio
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan
I’d rate it: 3-4/5
Shooting Schedule: Best to check for availability 3 months beforehand.
Style: A good mix of hanfu and modern commercial shoot. Owner is very creative had has great aesthetic sense.
Pros: Fantastic quality of Hanfu to choose from, very expensive accessories and props. You get to keep all the pictures taken, and you get them on the spot. Then you go home to choose the ones you want them to edit more.
Cons: It’s not always the owner who takes your pictures. When I went it was the other one, who isn’t that great. Also, I think they put in more effort in their original creations/posters than the actual clients’ and it shows. That’s why I’m an undecided 3-4/5 for this. I know its potential, but I’m just not the lucky ones.
My shoot below
1. 王sir (Freelance photographer)
Wechat contact: romanka
I’d rate it: 3/5 (for Hanfu, but 5/5 for wedding and other photos)
Shooting Schedule: generally quite available I think!
Style: He does any style. He has almost 20 years of photography experiences, and conducts photography workshops. So he has no problem with composition, technical aspects of things and he also knows stylists who follow celebrities/tv crew. The reason why I rated him 3/5 is cos I know what I want already, so I would get him to just do my photographs, and everything else–make-up, dress, styling, post-edit are all by me. It’s not for everyone, especially beginner level.
Pros: Great composition, technical control, and overall extremely bold and grand pictures.
Cons: He’s a bit foreign to the Hanfu scene, so he doesn’t have the authentic dresses and doesn’t know the authentic styles. The stylists he work with are tagged to wedding or tv crew which again aren’t authentic enough for me. But if you just want nice pictures, that’d work really well.
My April shoot and most recent shoot in Beijing were all by him as below:
There are a many other photographers and studios out there that I’ve not worked with and not really keen to work with because some have ethical issues.
I’ve recently heard a story of an extremely famous hanfu photographer who conducts photography classes, followed by more than 100k people, and taught his students that you just need a pretty model, a nice scenery and a good PS skill to win the game.
And when a slightly older friend of a friend approached him for photos, he complained that her dresses were ugly, the venue was bad, the model looks ugly (and the pictures turned out ugly). So don’t let brand get in the way of finding the perfect photographer/studio to work with. Because the truth is, not everyone of us are that youthful, have plastic surgery, or have looks that conform to the general public’s aesthetic. The photographer and stylist (if they’re really good) are supposed to bring out your individuality, not the other way round by making you fit their ideal look/feel.
This is why I do my own styling and post edit cos for people more familiar with makeup hairstyle and post production, you know your face and aura best. None of the people I worked with could get my makeup right cos my eyes are deep set, so having too much makeup on them makes me look old and not so Asian. At some point I took over makeup myself when I find that they couldn’t handle my eyes, so don’t hesitate to take control if you feel that you know better.
Basically, don’t settle for less. And for many of the studios, if you are not satisfied with the final result, you are apparently entitled to have it reshoot!
That’s all and have fun~