Year Abroad: Tianjin Travels

TO TIANJIN!

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Off the HSR at Tianjin Railway Station

Off the High Speed Rail and into the bustle at Tianjin Railway Station.
Beijing – Tianjin: 54.50¥
Shanghai  – Beijing: 550¥

It’s autumn in China, and I recently made a trip out of the bustle of Shanghai up to Tianjin, where over the course of four days I managed to amass a large amount of photos of the journey, the city, and very few of myself and my friend Peter.
(Sorry, Pete.)

In comparison with Big Ol’ Shanghai, Tianjin is pretty chilled and quiet city, and I’ve spent a lovely four days wandering some of it’s least tourist-trekked streets, thanks to my trusty guide, as well as some of it’s Lonely Planet-style tourist attractions. Despite the fact that Tianjin covers an area some six times larger than Shanghai, it’s population is only half that of the shiny southern city – and it shows. The streets are chilled, the metros are only quietly bustling, and the people are friendly (what a shock to the system).

Take note Shanghai.

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REAL CHINA

We start off the trip with an excellent 6¥ bowl of noodles at what Pete has dubbed ‘Man and Wife Pull Noodles’, a tiny, tiny, tiny restaurant that sits in a rickety road alley just by Tianjin Experimental High School. If you haven’t tried eating where the locals eat, you’re missing out on a real and genuine experience of China. This street is lined with lots of similarly miniature restaurants, all of which have been dubbed with fabulous English names by the local, non-Chinese speaking foreigners, and are flocked with tracksuited schoolkids at lunch (beware).

I keep accidentally calling the restaurant ‘Man on Wife Pull Noodles’, much to everyone’s delight.
Well, it is a bit of a mouthful.

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By Necessity, Alley Restaurant, Tianjin

These pretty bottles are filled with Chinese vinegar, and are perfectly lined up on our table (one of only three, in a space smaller than my tiny dormitory bedroom at Fudan University). The decor has definitely happened by necessity, and not because they’ve popped down to the local Ikea.

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Cat in Basket, Waiting

Oh, and here’s a Cat in Basket outside the shop.
Why are you so grumpy, kitty!

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I’M A TOURIST!

Next, I get the grand tour! Try the Tianjin Radio Tower, 1 Weijin South Rd, Hexi, Tianjin in summer for a great view of the surrounding city. On a smog-free day take the cheeky elevator up with a 50¥ Adult ticket (20¥ Consession/Student), and check out the span of the sprawling city. Afterwards, the nearby Lake Park 水上公园  is perfect for a relaxed stroll and watermelon on a stick! The attractions themselves are all a little worn out and dusty, with lots of attendants that seem to be there mostly for show – but worth visiting for the strangeness of it all. Other tourist spots worth a visit are the shiny, new Museum District, the Italian Quarter, the Old Town and the Tianjin Eye.

Radio Tower in winter  is an absolutely amazing sight.
Tianjin is b-e-a-utiful in winter, if not horrifically cold.

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 Tianijn Radio Tower

Tianijn Radio Tower.

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If you get a chance, go for a stroll around the local areas (or a bike ride if you can find one and are savvy enough not to get killed on raod that have a fairly relaxed attitude to general traffic laws). Out by Wujiaoyao the two story houses and residential streets are slow paced, and filled with wandering elderly people in faded floral packs; the wide, dry streets are sparsely tree-lined and seemingly under constant renovation, with building dust churning now and then under our shoes. Card playing old men in dark jackets shout in tense, tight circles around makeshift tables.

We were very alternative, and took a stroll in the dark.

A NIGHTTIME STROLL IN TIANJIN

One lovely evening after a long day at the nearby Italian Quarter and Old Town, we take a stroll down along the HaiHe 海河 Riverside to soak up some more of Tianjin’s relaxed atmosphere, take some photos, and a look at night-time life.

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Tianjin Father and Daughter, Nighttime Radisson Building

A man and his daughter sitting in the glow of the Radisson Building.

Tianjin, Nightshift Nap

This man is taking the night shift on Tianjin Old Street very seriously.

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Over the Bridge, Tianjin

Over the Bridge.

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Three Men Fishing, Tianjin China

Three men fishing under an over pass; the man on the very left is wearing what’s left of his daytime, smart suit, while the older gentleman in the middle has the look of an old-timer to the trade.

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Tianjin Little Eats Street 天津小吃街

Little Eats Street, Tianjin is busy and bustling.

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Last Man Working, Nightshift Tianjin

Last man working the nightshift.

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The Clock, Tianjin

Tianjin Clock in some pretty cool looking light pollution.

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HEADING BACK


 “Home, James!” My family say this when we’re going home after a day out, but I don’t know why, or who this mysterious ‘James’ is. Peter made a face and sounded fairly insulted that I was calling him James… Does anyone else say this? Support would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, after a long day out, we nip on the last metro of the evening on line three and head home!
Tianjin’s metro is wonderfully efficient, and much less overcrowded that Shanghai’s rush hour. English everywhere and friendly staff makes it a super easy tourist city.

Wujiaoyao Metro

I love how symmetrical everything is in the station, and as a treat, they’ve opened the backs of all the metro coin machines –  pretty neat.

From the White Lights, Lamps in the Dark, Tianjin

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AWAY I GO

View from the Window, China High Speed Train

At on my window seat back down to Shanghai as the High Speed Train hits 400km/h!

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It’s a long journey home when you’re leaving an old friend and heading back to a city that you can barely call home yet. It’s a seven hours door to door, and I do nothing more than doze, read and listen to music.

It’s been great to take a step back from Shanghai and chill out for four days from the stress of university level Chinese and watch Pete make all our transactions, translate, tour guide and generally be an excellent host. On the creative side of things, one of the great joys of touristing with a friend is you don’t have to feel nearly so ashamed of spending five minutes trying to get the shot that you want. So cheers to the large album dedicated to one of China’s five national central cities.

Hope I can come back soon,PhotoVogue Shelled Light, Charlotte Black

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.Charlotte xx

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PhotoVogue Shelled Light, Charlotte Black

Oh, hey there Vogue, this is the Tianjin Railway station.

😝

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Editorial England: Wild Dartmore

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A couple of months ago the editorial team of Razz My Berries Magazine handed over our reigns to a brilliant, fresh new committee of burgeoning writers, online whizzes and social butterflies. I packed my Razz experience into a proverbial box and sat, baking languidly in the summer sun, reminiscing the fashion, editing and beauty opportunities that had come my way over the past two years. And, as I sat, my phone suddenly buzzed, rather insistently, in my pocket – Toby Craddock, the Magazine’s new Editor wanted to know if I was free for the next creative shoot.
And out of the blue, the experience was not quite over at all.

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With the launch of the magazine, I can finally reveal some sneaky, behind-the-scenes shots of arguably the best editorial campaign Razz My Berries has yet seen: the Dartmore Collaboration.
Not that I could possibly be biased.

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Creative Editor: Wentworth Cecil-Gurney
Model: Joe Stewart, Jules Howe
Photographer: Nathan Dunovic
MUA & Dresser: Charlotte Black
MU/Lighting Assistant: Marianne Pilloux

On a sizzling Sunday in summer, the shoots Creative Editor, Wentworth Cecil-Gurney, along with some of the most fabulous props curtsey of the National Theatre London, veered into Exeter and collected out five-strong artistic team for the day.  I was make-up artist and on hand-dresser on a stunning day’s romp through the Dartmore hills where everything that could possibly happen, just happened.

I guess it’s appropriate to say here that I’m not the most spontaneous person in the world. In fact, the word rolls reluctantly over my tongue with a less-than-fair share of unease; I’ll readily admit that I have several traits of being an oldest child, and certain people may have muttered the words ‘control-freak’ in description of my person (at their own peril, of course). Luckily however, un-spontaneity aside, working in the creative world, and with many creative types, this particular trait, which I would rather refer to as being obsessively organised, has been (forcibly) tempered over the years by learning to quietly go with the flow. Definitely useful on a shoot like this.

 Having never met any of the team before, the artistic venture turned out to be one of the most strange, but utterly fantastic I’ve had yet: we sped wildly and we ran out of fuel spectacularly; we ate cream teas and drank pints, shared car-chat and car-silence; we chased ponies, dodged road-roaming cows and borrowed certain historical sites on creative licence, and enjoyed what absolute weirdness can happen in the rare English sun when six undergrads come together to make  and create a stylised shoot.

There’s nothing like the buzz on set when things flowing smoothly from one shot to another, practically glowing the in late afternoon sun. Spontaneity’s the name of the game when you’re working with a limited supply of make up in the wilderness, moving from one shot to another in a set, and shooting in natural lighting. We may have been six strangers (and one happy puppy) on meeting at 10AM, but on set, and in assuming our rightful roles, we could really feel things building; you can spend an afternoon as just people, travelling through the wilderness of Dartmore, but when business called we were suddenly and certainly, an editorial team. Photoshoot setting , tools in hand and perfect light, the Razz Magazine Dartmore Editorial was well and truly under way.

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Photography credits:Marianne Pilloux & Charlotte Black

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MAKE-UP

For this shoot, it was out with the lights and dressing rooms, and into the open nature as we worked on the grass to get Joe and Jules photo ready with my small box of tools and Jules’ own make-up.

Focusing on the skin in a puritanical/gothic, out of the 17th Century look for JULES, it was out with the bronzer and in the the pale foundation for her porcelain skin. Even the most perfect needs some protection against the glare of summer sun, especially in photographs – and summer shine is so not 17th Century. Foundation followed by a light, powder-based sculpting tone (try Cezanne, Japan) to accentuate the angles of her face, a sweep of a red based blusher and translucent finishing powder (try Bare Minerals Veil).  Wentworth was looking for a dark, purplish lip to match the dress, so a little improvising with a mixture of eyeshadow powder and lippy, and an all-over matt look was finished. A quick half-up, half-down do with a pinned square or reed knot (for you former Brownies and Scouts out there) and she was ready to be buckled into her plush velvet dress. Hot in the sun!

Personally, I think it’s always strange putting make-up on boys, and despite having done it on a regular basis working in the theatre with Exeter University Theatre Company, I still haven’t been able to shake the feeling that it’s a little exciting, if not lightly odd! I guess I’ve been putting it on myself since I could hold a lipstick (ruining several of my mum’s lipsticks in the bathroom, sorry mum), and I’ve got twenty odd years to catch up on when it comes to make-uping the lads. With JOE it was a non-shimmer bronzer to accentuate his bone structure, pencilling his eyebrows, and the mandatory sweep of mascara and liner. As rough and ready as we were going for, it got a little up close and personal with the tweezers as Wentworth asked for some eyebrow taming, so thankfully Marianne stepped in… Then it was off to hold the light reflectors and catch the afternoons rays!

Check out the Alternative Freshers Guide Campaign which features one of Photographer Nathan Dunovic’s shots!

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Razz My Berries Alternative Freshers Guide

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Look out for the next Razz My Berries Issue to see the shoot in full. If you’re lucky enough to in Exeter, the University campus shop stocks copies, or get in touch with the editors at razzmag@gmail.com.

Find out more about the Magazine on Twitter | Facebook | WordPress
And about our lovely Photographer’s clothing line at Tight-Threads.com

And until next time…

If these shots are anything to go by, it’s OK to be spontaneous.

(Sometimes.)

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Charlotte xx

Sublime Creations: Maria Dragan Photography

‘Hide Me’ © Maria Dragan Photography.

Maria Dragan Photogaphy | Official Website | Vogue Italia 

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When I first met Maria two years ago, I was still a jittery fresher in the first term of University; then I was taken aback by that chance meeting with a determination you rarely see. I knew right then that not only did she know exactly what she wanted, but that she would chance every angle and opportunity to get there. Although relatively large for it’s size, in the small photography scene in Exeter I kept bumping into her work, so it’s simply an utter shame on my part that I haven’t taken the chance to write about her photography until now. For those of you who are afraid of writerly bias, I only ask that you to look at her work – I can promise it’s breathtaking.

Operating in the competitive, digital and world-wide market of the 21st century is no walk in the park for any industry, and no one, ever, said it’s easy to fulfil creative dreams of becoming a fashion photographer. But something of this heady mix of creativity and technology has brought Fashion and Wedding Photographer Maria Dragan from the quaint, South-West England city of Exeter to the attention of Vogue Italia, and having had the privilege of working with her this June, it’s not hard to see why.

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Maria’s a small, whirlwind force of ingenuity and competition on set; anything and everything becomes a tool for communication – and maybe it’s no mere coincidence that, being trained in Journalism: she has an eye for a good story. There’s nothing impersonal about her work either. Despite implications that in commercial modelling the model is merely a white-blank tool, that the make-up artist is only there to serve a purpose, there’s nothing of that sense of distance in Maria’s work. The result of taking part in styling, make-up artistry and really getting to know the model? The air on set could ignite with collaborative energy. Watching her work, it’s hard to believe anyone could be so relaxed even under what is obviously a serious dedication to the right shot; that I can only put down to taking real joy in your work.

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 If you, like me, want to see more of Maria’s stunning work check out her Facebook or Twitter!

I’d keep your eyes on this one, folks.

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All work is explicitly under © Maria Dragan Photography