As an American-born Chinese who did not fully embrace my cultural heritage, taking Chinese bridal portraits was not something that I considered for my wedding. In fact, growing up, I actively rejected my Chinese roots because honestly, I felt embarrassed by it. This was partly because I didn’t come into contact with many other Asians when I was young and was teased for being different. Looking back now, I think another factor was the lack of representation of strong and desirable Asian Americans in mainstream media. I didn’t think about it that way as a child, but in those impressionable years, it definitely makes a difference to see people who look like you portrayed in a positive way. This lack of representation inspired me to experiment with creating beautiful imagery through Chinese bridal portraits.
In recent years, lavish wedding portraits have become very popular in China. There are many companies that accommodate couples in full-day shoots involving hair and makeup, multiple wardrobe changes, and elaborate sets. This is not too common in the United States, and while it was not my goal at all to recreate the experience one might have overseas, I did want to provide an option for a bride interested in incorporating her Chinese culture in fine art portrait photography.
The cheongsam, or qipao, is the classic dress that Chinese brides will wear, typically during the tea ceremony or as an evening reception dress. This beautiful traditional dress is unmistakably Chinese and looks so striking in photos. In this bridal portrait shoot, I wanted to use the majestic feeling of the dress to accentuate the beauty of the bride. I love the juxtaposition of an object representing thousands of years of history next to a modern woman ready to take on the world.
Taking these Chinese bridal portraits transformed me as well, because I can tell you now, a younger Caroline would not have appreciated the beauty of the cheongsam. I would’ve scoffed at how old-fashioned it looked and opted for something more contemporary. Bringing these images to life reminded me that it’s important to honor your roots and that it’s possible to do so in a way that is beautiful and modern. If you’re thinking of taking Chinese bridal portraits, or interested in weaving elements of your culture in a fine art portrait session, I’d love to help!
Contact me today!