Shenzhen 2014

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being flown to Shenzhen for a photo assignment. It was my first trip ever to China. Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions, and thus not considered China proper in this context. The trip was an eye opener and I would definitely want to explore China more.

Time was limited during the five-day trip so I could barely stop and snap away. I encountered many intriguing sights and I really want to go back there to wander and shoot. It didn’t help that it rained every day that we were there, so I was restricted to shooting indoors.

The first thing that caught my eye when I stepped off the plane was the unique interior design of the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport. The honeycomb lattice of the ceiling makes it a very interesting subject to shoot with an ultra-wide angle lens. Shooting at ultra-wide focal length allows you to capture the scene at dramatic angles but it also means having a hard time controlling wide angle distortions.

Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport #1

Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport #2

Shenzhen Bao'an Airport #3

Shenzhen Bao'an Airport entrance

Our guide, Hailing

We were there on assignment for the hotel and one of the hotel staff, Hailing, was tasked with showing us around the airport. We peppered her with questions about the hotel and airport and I think she did well to answer our queries despite her limited experience, being a relatively new employee.

This series was shot on the Nikon D700 with the Nikkor AF-S 50 mm f/1.4G and the Nikkor 16-35 mm f/4G ED VR lenses.

I went to China armed with just a 50 mm and a 16-35 mm wide angle zoom lens, because I was expecting to shoot the hotel interiors. When I arrived, I discovered that I had to do some food photography. I was glad I brought my tripod along for the trip. Whenever I brought my tripod on my travels, I usually ended up not using it. I almost decided against bringing it for this trip. However, I brought it along just in case, since this was a paid assignment.

Since it rained every day we were there, we had good diffuse lighting spilling into the window from the overcast skies.

Spring rolls



Curry fish

Fried rice



Fried fish

These were shot working with ambient light and a single speed light through an umbrella. With 50 mm bring the longest focal length I had with me, It was a struggle to get the shots I wanted. I would have preferred telephoto lens for food photography, such as a 105 mm micro lens, which would have the benefit of being able to shoot at 1:1 ratio. Nevertheless, I manage to make do with what I had and delivered some reasonable shots.

It was a stressful experience working with a team of chefs waiting to do up their dishes for the shoot. They were painstakingly making sure the dishes were presentable. These dishes were to be served after their photos were taken, so there was the added pressure of working fast so that the food did not go cold or soggy.

My stomach was complaining when I edited the photos. Actually, looking at them now is starting to make me hungry. I better move along.


In the midst of my work, I managed to sneak a few portrait shots.

I shot some black and white photos of Michelle, a hotel staff, with the nice diffuse light from the window.

It rained so hard that our flights were delayed. I hope when I go back to shoot there the sun would be shining brightly.

Watching the rain fall

This assignment is one of the events I experienced this year that proved to me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone to take up challenges. Another example would be the photoshoot with Krystal. Several other non-photography incidents opened up doors as well. To say this was a life-changing year would be an understatement.

I will be sharing more so check back soon. Subscribe to this site to be notified whenever new articles are posted. I wish to share more about this assignment, but that would have to wait for another time.

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  1. Matt Avatar

    Drop by SZ again soon! This time there should be less drinking, lol!

    1. Jenxi Seow Avatar

      Definitely something to plan for. Maybe pop by at GZ or HK.

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