The first time I came to Beijing, in 1987, I traveled in with my assistant at the time, Gabe Palacio, and somewhere around 18-20 heavy cases filled with Sports Illustrated Speedotron units, and the accompanying paraphernalia. (Not the least of which were a couple cases filled with step down transformers. It was like traveling with a pair of anchors. Ah, the good old days! There was lots of stuff about them that, trust me, weren’t all that much fun.)
This time, it’s just me, a couple cameras, a few basic lenses, three speed lights, two Justin clamps, and, thankfully, a couple Pocket Wizard PlusX units. Threw those in at the last minute, just in case. No tripod, bigger light shapers, or stands. Some cards and batteries. Speed light small light shaper or two. Done. Backpack, a roller and suitcase. Suitable pack for many jobs, especially if you have to move fast, as you often do over here. But, I got here, and, several production meetings later, I’ve been shooting stuff like this.
Yowza! I got wind my assignment was shifting away from light hearted run and gun to production just as I left. Made some recommendations, and jumped on the plane. While I was en route, my client, which is essentially the city of Beijing, went out and bought various bits and pieces of lighting gear, not all of which, you know, sort of, kind of, work together. Making all this stuff get happy on location has been a bit of a parable in itself, which I’ll take up in another blog, but man, it’s been a wonderful, exuberant education in how to get some stuff done in this huge and complex city.
(As a for instance, they bought a super boom, which is really a studio piece of gear. I put this thing together in my hotel room, and it looks like a metallic praying mantis, which I think scared off the cleaning lady for a couple days. It’s a hoot trundling this wheeled monster through the streets of Beijing. It’s handy, though, I have to admit.)
It’s honor, really, to interface with several of the top fashion designers in China, and place their magnificent work in the context of significant Chinese landmarks. The pics in this blog are all from the first day in the field, working in and around “The Egg,” which is the National Center for Performing Arts, nearby Tiananmen.
We’ve often got 20 people out there on the streets, shepherding six foot tall Chinese models, kitted out in seven inch stilettos, through the crowds. We’ve, uh, received our share of attention. The gown below, for instance, weighs over 100 pounds. Seriously. Beautiful? Yes. But not what you would reach for when you want to “slip on something more comfortable.”
My thanks to Ariane, Dukes, and the crew at Vision Beijing. I’ve built up a welcome six year history with them, and they are always gracious hosts. We are back in the field tomorrow, and I’ll do more blogging as the project progresses. But, I’ll close with a quiz. Look below. Which one is the fashion model, and which one is the dork?
Oh, and by the way, it’s raining.