穿旗袍的女人 (A woman in cheongsam)

我正在看《花样年华》,我不得不承认我被张曼玉深深地吸引住了——或者,确切地说,是穿着旗袍的张曼玉。她打算去一个胡同买面条,在狭窄的楼梯入口经过梁朝伟。黑暗的走廊创造了一种暧昧的气氛,暗示着他们之间犹豫的爱。他们互相礼貌地点头。她穿着旗袍看起来是那么的优雅(和性感)。

旗袍,这个产于民国时期的最具有中国风的女性服装,其高高的衣领用来修饰女人修长的脖子,紧身的包臀设计描绘出婀娜多姿的身材,大概是我见过最有女人的裙子了。

而现在,不幸的是,在席卷中国大陆的单一潮流中,它正在淡出人们的视线,过时了,任何旧的东西都不再受欢迎。

但我却被旗袍的优雅所吸引。所以,我请我的朋友,一个来自广州的又高又瘦的女孩Rani和我一起去拍照。当然,我事先请她看了同一部电影:王家卫和杜可风的《花样年华》。这部电影她反复琢磨了三遍。

我们从中国运来了一件旗袍。那是一件带有白色印花装饰的深蓝色短裙,Rani穿着它,拿着一个老式的金色手提包。这条裙子恰到好处地衬托了她的身材——她不能再漂亮了——而且她的头发盘起来看起来也很古典。

当我在拍摄当天看到她时,我就知道我找到了合适的模特!

这次拍摄的想法主要是要展现出穿旗袍女人的优雅和神秘。鲜花、古老的建筑、昏暗的灯光,这些都是我脑海中浮现的东西。于是,我和Rani约在了皇冠马戏团(Crown Circus)见面。皇冠马戏团是格拉斯哥西端拜尔斯路(Byres Road)上方山上的一个重要地标。

我想我以前从未见过像皇冠马戏团这样的东西,不是在这样一座古老而庄严的建筑里——它有160年的历史,诞生于詹姆斯·汤姆森的思想中——因为它在一个巨大的半圆形中运行。事实上,它就像从前面看到的马戏团帐篷。或者是王冠。对于任何对这座城市的美丽建筑感兴趣的人来说,它都是一颗不可错过的宝石。

马路对面是一幢看起来像带花园的两层小别墅,长满了野草,似乎无人居住。我让Rani试着靠着房子外面的矮墙坐着,不看相机。她穿着旗袍,身后是古色古香的建筑,像是对身后世界的美好回忆。

她看上去像在等待着谁:

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我们在房子附近发现了一丛粉红色的花树。花儿才刚刚开始绽放。Rani坐在其间,平静地望着外面,而我被树枝抓住,一只脚摇摇晃晃地想要拍照。因为我们是在拍摄胶片,所以镜头必须保持静止,我绝望地说:完蛋!它会变得模糊。

但事实证明,适量的模糊只会给这幅画增加一种朦胧的美。这也是整个拍摄过程中我最喜欢的照片。我喜欢这些意外惊喜!

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在户外拍摄完之后,我建议我们去我最喜欢的地方拍摄。我之前提到过:查令十字大厦。在这些建筑的内部(如果你足够幸运能进去的话),走廊里的黄色灯光昏暗,让人产生一种活生生的历史和诡异感。

我试着拍一些Rani上楼的侧面照,拍得很近,很美,但缺乏张曼玉的那种感觉。可那才是整个项目的开始,也是我想要重塑的。

所以我改变了姿势。我试着从后面拍摄,捕捉她的背影,我想毫不掩饰地用旗袍的线条来体现Rani的好身材。不过,我还是把焦点放在了别的地方,这样Rani的形象就会稍微模糊一些——毕竟,朦胧美才是最性感的选择。我想要的是隐藏在每一件装饰品和每一堵墙后面,捕捉在《Mood for Love》镜框中的那种犹豫、朦胧和紧张感。

结果,对我来说,是完美的。她可能不在焦点上,但她却吸引了观众的注意力。我认为这张照片里存在一个故事——我们看着固定的楼梯扶手,在这个欧式风格的走道里,一个东方女人走上谁也不知道通往哪儿的台阶,背后有许多未知的生活。

提示:虽然聚焦很重要,但并不是每一张照片都需要那么的锐利和清晰。在你的摄影中寻找另一个元素——当你想表达一些新的和温柔的东西时——玩弄焦点是你尝试的第一步。尝试模糊场景的一部分,会给你的照片带来不同的审美。

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在拍摄过程中,街上不断有人称赞Rani的穿着,“多漂亮的裙子啊,你要去别的好地方吗?”“只是为了拍摄而已,”她会挥着手,礼貌地微笑着说。我不禁想:这么好看的古典服装,为什么现在越来越少人愿意穿呢?这不仅在日常生活中是一种趋势,甚至在节日和特殊场合也是如此。

在日本,人们穿着和服和浴衣参加盛大的仪式,或者只是去吃一顿丰盛的晚餐。在苏格兰,男人们在任何场合,任何借口都要穿上苏格兰短裙。但是我们,中国人,对传统服饰的依恋正在消失。我们把它交给了过去。我真诚地希望,通过这次拍摄,即使只有少数人可以看到旗袍的美丽,也可以鼓励更多人参与我们的传统世界。

A Woman in Cheongsam

I am watching In the Mood for Love, and I can’t help but admit a deep attraction to Maggie Cheung – or, to be specific, Maggie Cheung in cheongsam. She is going to buy noodles in an alley café, crossing by Tony Leung at the narrow, staircased entrance. The dark corridor creates an ambiguous atmosphere – it hints at a hesitant love between them. They politely nod to each other. She looks so graceful (and sexy) in her cheongsam there.

Cheongsam first became popular in late 1920s Shanghai, and then spread to other parts of China. It is the most traditionally Chinese style of women’s clothing – the high collar is to decorate a woman’s slender neck, and it’s tight around the bum to help depict a graceful figure. Chinese or not, it is probably the most feminine dress I’ve ever seen. And now, unfortunately, it’s fading into oblivion – well out of fashion, and anything old is not preferred in the monochrome tide that is sweeping mainland China. 

But I am fascinated by the elegance of a cheongsam. So, I asked my friend, a tall and slender girl from Guangzhou – Rani – to go on a shoot with me. Of course, beforehand, I asked her to watch this same film: Wong Kar Wai and Christopher Doyle’s In the Mood For Love, and she went through the film three times. 

We had a cheongsam shipped from China. It was a short, dark blue dress with a white print decoration, and Rani wore it with a vintage gold handbag. The dress hugged her figure just right – she could not have been more beautiful – and she looked classical with her hair up, too. 

When I saw her on the shooting day, I knew that I had found the right model! 

The idea of this shoot was mainly to show the elegance and mystery which immediately attaches itself to women wearing cheongsam. Flowers, old buildings, dim lights, those were the things that came to my mind. And so I met Rani at Crown Circus, an important landmark in the west end of Glasgow, on the hills above Byres Road.

I don’t think I’ve seen something like Crown Circus before, not in an old, stately building like that – it’s 160 years old, born of the mind of James Thomson – because it runs in a giant semi-circle. It is, in fact, just like the view of a circus tent from the front. Or a crown, for that matter. And it’s an unmissable jewel for anyone interested in the beautiful architecture of this city. 

Across the road is what looks like a two-story cottage with a garden, overgrown with grass and weeds – seemingly uninhabited. I asked Rani to try sitting against the low wall outside the house, not looking at the camera. Her in her cheongsam, with the old-style building in the back, both like beautiful memories of a world being left behind.

Here it’s like she’s waiting for someone:

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We found a cluster of pink-flower trees near that house. The flowers had only just begun to bloom. Rani sat amongst them, quietly looking out, all poise – while I was scratched by the branches and wobbling on one foot to get the picture. Because we were shooting on film, for which the camera must very remain still, I was despairing: No way! It’s going to get fuzzy. 

But it turns out that just the right amount of fuzz has only added to the picture a kind of hazy beauty. It was also my favorite photo of the whole shoot. I love these little accidents!

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After taking the outdoor shots, I suggested we go to one of my favourite places to shoot. I’ve mentioned it before: Charing Cross Mansions. Inside the closes of those buildings (if you’re lucky enough to get inside) the corridors are dimly lit with yellow light, which can conjure a sense of living history and intrigue.

I tried to take some profile shots of Rani walking up the stairs in one such close, which were beautiful, but lacking – where was the sex appeal of Maggie Cheung? That’s what began this whole project, that’s what I’m really after recreating. 

So, I changed my position. I was shooting from above. I moved back now, to take shots from behind. I wanted to unabashedly reflect her good figure clung to by the lines of the cheongsam. Still, I set the focus elsewhere, so that Rani would be slightly blurred – after all, obviousness is rarely the sexiest option. A straight shot of her bum and legs going up the stairs… No, I wanted the hesitancy, the misty, the tension that hid behind every ornament and every wall and caught in In the Mood for Love’s frames.

The result, to me, is wonderful. She may not be in focus, but she pulls the focus of the viewer. And I like to think that there’s a story in there, happening in the background – we’re watching the fixed platform of the stairway bannister, but there is life to be found in this European-style close, as an eastern woman ascends to who knows where.

Tip: While focus is important, not every shot needs to be sharp and clear. But you are searching for another element in your photography – when you want to express something new and tender – playing with the focus is your first port of call for experimentation. Try obscuring a part of the scene to bring a different aesthetic to your photos.

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hroughout the shoot, people on the street were constantly complimenting Rani on how well she was dressed, asking, ‘What a beautiful dress, are you going anywhere nice?’ ‘Just for a photoshoot,’ she would say, waving her hand and politely smiling. And I can’t help but think: Such good-looking, classical dress – why is it that, nowadays, less and less people want to wear it? This is a trend not only in daily life, but even in festivals and special occasions. 

In Japan, people wear kimonos and yukatas for big ceremonies, or just to a nice dinner. In Scotland, men strap themselves up in their kilts for any occasion, any excuse. But we, the Chinese people – our attachment to traditional dress is disappearing. We have assigned it to the past. And I sincerely hope that through this shoot, even just a few people might see the beauty of cheongsam (qi pao, in Mandarin), and be encouraged to engage in our traditional world more often.

[ Kiki Zou]

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