YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA
After almost a full day of Air travel i finally touched down in Kunming which is the capital of the Yunnan province in Southern China. My trip started at JFK airport in New York via Shanghai to my final destination of Kunming. It was a warm Spring day but I could feel the high elevation of 1.900 m immediately.
When i travel west i enjoy waking up very early in the morning due to the time change. Exploring a city just after the sun has rissen shows me some of those real moments. Witnessing people waking up and getting ready for the day is something i enjoy a lot. At many places in Kunming i could see staff and employees having their morning briefings just out on the side walks.
Close to my appartment was Green Lake park were floks of locals were starting their day with Tai chi. Others were just enjoying a walk along the Lake front and i could see that everyone was enjoying the warm Spring temperatures. Due to its mild weather Kunming is also called the City of Spring.
Above right: QUIET KUNMING poster
The next day i had planned to take some portraits and was happy to connect with a great Hair and Make up artists from Bangkok. We decided to scout some models and the same morning we saw this beautiful girl on the street. We asked her if she would be interested to take some photos and i was very excited to really see her show up at the studio the next morning. We stayed in the photo studio for two days and created wonderful works. Shakira was so amazing to work with and had this extraordinary look. She almost felt like an alien, in her looks and in her way to move.
Above left: SHAKIRA TRIBE KUNMING limited edition print
Above middle: SILHOUETTES OF TIEN limited edition print
Above right: SHAKIRA BEAUTY KUNMING limited edition print
After our shoot i had more time left and i wanted to visit the Lianhua Jingshe Buddhist temple which sits in a gorgeous Bamboo and Eucalyptus forrest. It was a true Oasis in the middle of town.
Northwest of Kunming about 3.5 hours by car lays the Yuanmou Earth Forest which is a Natural park created by erosion. It takes the form of pillars and creates the impression of a forrest. Driving through rural China shows you all sorts of vehicles, be aware you might share the road with some big horned fellows at one point.
We left Kunming in the middle of the night to arrive before sunrise and before visitors would arrive to this popular destination. After some quiet hours of shooting it started to get busy and i shot this photograph below as we were getting ready for another round. I think it is a fun shot with the model and the Make Up artist while surrounded by visitors.
It was a fantastic spot and it felt sometimes to walk around a different planet surrounded by sand pillars.
Probably the most renowned landscape of Yunnan are the flower fields of Luoping.After some downtime in Kunming we decided to spent some time to witness the big spring flower festival in Luoping.
We knew it will be hard to find accommodation during the festival, it is a major destination for thousands of visitors every Spring. But we still decided to head there and find some place to sleep and recover from the 5h drive along the scariest dirt tracks and deserted hyper modern highways. The food stalls along the road were a great spot to sample some simple lunches.
We arrived late and tried to find a room for hours. Every place was fully booked. We actually ended up sleeping at a massage parlour, the staff slept downstairs anyways in the pedicure chairs and we “rented” the massage beds upstairs for the night. Basic but still a good bed for the night.
After some outstanding noodles as breakfast we knew we would need to beat the crowds so we headed out before 5am to arrive again before sunrise. We spotted the most promising areas but were a little worried as it was a very foggy morning.
After about 20 minutes the fog lifted and we had this unbelievable landscape in front of us. It was amazing to see the valley with no other people around. It always pays off to get up early!
It was not before we found an open valley of fields where i spotted a bee keeper in its middle. The rapeseed flowers made a great spot for his bees and he showed us around his camp. I knew that this was the location i wanted.
At one point i just turned around and saw this local on his bicycle crossing the field and this was “the” moment for my shot. In my experience it is often just as simple as turning around and looking backwards into the direction you came from. It is sometimes the best shot.
The flower fields may be one of the biggest destinations for Nature enthusiast in China. I was lucky to experience it in a quiet and local moment. The setting could have been perhaps decades ago. I absorbed every second of it and will always remember it as a place of grand nature ruling the scene.
Aboveleft: LANTERNS KUNMING limited edition print
The last night in Kunming was fun as we all got together and had a dinner, i met very special people and I was not ready to leave Kunming, I was still curious to see much more but i might come back soon and explore deeper.
Thank you Yunnan, you are very pretty.
Copyright, Florian Innerkofler.