An Australian photographer has been taking Chinese couples to outlandish locales, such as fake villages and swimming tanks, to capture pre-wedding pictures — a booming business that pays up to $1 million in the name of perfection.
Olivia Martin-McGuire, 41, began exploring the industry while living in Shanghai a few years ago.
She learned that pre-nuptial photography is taken seriously in China, with some couples posing in shoots comparable to a Hollywood film.
“Brides were dressed in extravagant dresses of different colors, and were always racing around with sneakers peeking out from underneath the dresses,” she told the Daily Mail. “Grooms all had these wonderful fun suits and they all seemed to be running around followed by young entourages of photographers and stylists.”
One popular shooting location is Thamestown, a fictitious English village featuring cobbled streets and a “church” exclusively used for photography.
She has also captured moments in a fake Santorini, as well as underwater, up a steep mountain and against an epic cityscape, among others. Some couples also choose to be their own heroes in action photo shoots.
But the most popular set-up is one that shows European elegance.
“Royalty is perennially popular. French parlors, European sets and the like. I think this is because China doesn’t really have this reference in their history of opulence – so it’s an exotic fantasy,” she said.
“But the trends and times are changing, and American blockbuster film sets are also becoming massively popular backdrops. It’s about having fun as well as creating a dream.”
According to Olivia, costs vary “a lot” for these photo shoots, ranging from very cheap ones to a whopping $1 million.
“Most packages are very cheap, and you normally get six costume and backdrop changes alongside makeup artists and stylists. That would normally cost around $400. However, it can also be very expensive. For the small percentage of very wealthy customers, I have been told that the shoots can go up to $1 million.”
“However, this would normally include actually traveling to an exotic location like Antarctica, and potentially making a pre-wedding film as well,” she added.
Olivia’s work is currently on display in an exhibit called “China Love” in Sydney. She is also finishing a documentary of the same title, which opens at the Sydney Film Festival in June.
Featured Images via Instagram / Olivia Martin-McGuire