There are methods to make models comfortable. Some are already ready to act the part, while others need some handholding. In advance of the photo shoot, I provide models the story lines (or script) I want them to narrate. This is crucial, since with it in mind, they can act the role. The other method is to encourage them as they pose...not so much as how or where they are to stand, but reminding them of adopting certain poses following the script as in "show me how Meili wishes she had never met the gweilo"...or "show me how Hua is scared of seeing her aging lover...".
Embarking on such photographic projects make me look for relevant snippets of history, social mores and art (for example, the occupation of Shanghai by the Japanese in the thirties, the Chinoiserie fad of the 18th century, fictional stories similar to that of Madam Butterfly et al). I also learned the aesthetic of the cheongsam (aka qi pao) in its various forms, and the beauty of Chinese calligraphy. I also scoured the internet for Chinese legends, poetry and songs/music that inspired the 2-3 minutes plots of my photo films; as I call these audio slideshows.
In March 2007, Hawaiian introduced a "tasting menu" or "tapas menu" for its first class passengers on its U.S. mainland and international flights. The menu consists of twenty entrees set on a rotation, with five available on any given flight. Passengers are provided information on the available entrees for their flight when they board, or shortly after takeoff and may choose up to three entrees as part of their inflight meal.
Inter-Island Airways (Hawaiian: Hui Mokulele Piliʻāina), the forerunner of the airline which is now known as Hawaiian Airlines, was incorporated on January 30, 1929. Inter-Island Airways, a subsidiary of Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, began operations on October 6, 1929, with a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, providing short sightseeing flights over Oʻahu. Scheduled service began a month later on November 11 using Sikorsky S-38s with a flight from Honolulu to Hilo, via intermediary stops on Molokaʻi and Maui.
My still-embryonic idea is to enlist the help of a local acquaintance who would wear a cheongsam (aka qi pao), and take the role of a sing-song girl. The photo shoot would take place in the streets of Yau Ma Tei, and in the parlor itself. Whether the parlor would allow it or not is an open question that will be answered when I'm there. The owners and clients seemed very laid back when I made these photographs.
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In August 2007, the Seattle Seahawks became the second sports team to begin using Hawaiian Airlines to travel to games. The Oakland Raiders, also of the NFL, have been flying Hawaiian Airlines since the 1990s. The two teams fly on Hawaiian's Boeing 767s to and from all their games. Two of Hawaiian's Boeing 767 aircraft have been fitted with decals of logos from the Seahawks and the Raiders.
The other challenge is to scout for and find the locations for the photo shoots; locations that provide a "badge" of authenticity to the resulting photo films. In the the case of The Girl of Nanjing, it was the water town of Qi Bao near Shanghai....and in the case of The Legend of Hua, it was the water town of Xinchang' at some distance from Shanghai as well...while the backdrop to The Songstress of Temple Street was Hong Kong's famous Tin Hau Temple and the Canton Singing House.
Chinese opera has a long, rich history that dates back to 200 A.D. Over the centuries, a handful of styles of opera emerged — each with its own distinct makeup, music, and acting traditions — reflecting the eras and tastes of the changing dynasties. Sichuan opera is the youngest style, emerging around 1700 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, where it is still performed today by a dwindling roster of troupes.
The patrician-looking (and rather taciturn) sadhu in the top photograph did tell me that he had a family, had held a managerial position in the Indian Railway from which he earned a pension (now paid to his wife), but had decided to detach himself from temporal life and was currently studying the Vedas. These are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. He was the embodiment of a real sadhu who had really espoused the Vairāgya, and was far different from the "sadhus" I encountered on the ghats of Varanasi (below) almost 8 years later.
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