Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All. by Michael Ryan

A new client, Hogan, invited me down to Hong Kong and Heyuan for a shoot in their offices and factory. I didn’t have time to look up Heyuan which is typical on such trips. I often only find out after I have returned what the region if famous for. Years ago I shot regularly in Chengdu and a friend remarked that I must have seen lots of Pandas. Of course the only pandas I had seen were the one’s on the advertising in the airport, which made perfect sense as it’s the home of the Panda. But I had never had time to think about it never mind actually take a trip to see some pandas. However after 15 years in China I thought I had seen it all until we were driving down the highway towards the factory. Take a quick look at this atypcial road side scene... of course if you already know what Heyaun is famous for you may not be as surprised as I was.

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Disneyland Shanghai by Michael Ryan

If I said I had visited three Disneyland’s you might think I was a huge Disney fan but that’s not actually the case. I once went to Disneyland Tokyo when I lived in Japan a lifetime ago and enjoyed it though not sure I would have gone again as an adult. I then visited Disneyland Hong Kong as a birthday present to my eldest daughter when she was six years old. And of course I now live in Shanghai so at the request of both my daughters have been to Disneyland Shanghai three times - well it is only a subway ride away. And I’ve been to Disney Town twice, the free area outside Disneyland, which has the largest Disney store in the world and my favourite restaurant, the Cheesecake Factory. If you ever go watch out for the portion size. I had trouble finishing my main course even though I actually ordered from the appetiser menu.

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​Disney’s Fabulous Art Nouveau Hotel by Michael Ryan

The Disney hotel is a fin-de-siecle fantasy come to life from the moment you enter the lobby. I think Walt chose well finding a balance between Disney character rich elements and spacious artistic decor. It’s just enough to prevent adults doing a swift U-turn. Although throughout the hotel there is a post modern approach the overwhelming influence is Art Nouveau. And it just so happens I am a huge fan of that period when it comes to art and architecture.

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Damsels Not in Distress by Michael Ryan

Some time ago (I’m ashamed to say) an artist named David Wright approached me to ask if he could use photos of dragon and damsel flies I had shot to create some of his wonderful electric bugs. He has a wonderful gallery on Flickr and a great Instagram page. He uses photos of real wings with electrical components to create what he calls elec-trickery. 

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Prop shopping at Olsen Antiques by Michael Ryan

On the hottest day of the year so far we decided to take a trip out of the city to Olsen antiques. Not one but three gigantic warehouses full of antiques of all kinds from furniture to Remington typewriters. I didn’t know what to expect so I forgot my camera but had my trusty iPhone with me to capture some of the mood and textures of the store. Bought a few things but will definitley have to go back again. 

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Miss Rabbit’s Resume by Michael Ryan

My 3 year old, like most, is obsessed with Peppa Pig. If you’re not familiar with the cartoon, it’s an animation show for toddlers with quite a helping of wit to make it enjoyable for adults to watch along side. One of the curious elements of the show is a key character named Miss Rabbit who seems to perform almost every job in Peppa Pig land.

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Happy May Day by Michael Ryan

Happy May Day, it’s 15 years since I landed in Shanghai and it has changed a lot since then. I found an old shot I took from 2001 of the Bund, Shanghai’s waterfront, while on a holiday. I think it was on film, and then scanned on to a Kodak Photo CD. And needless to say my technique left a lot to be desired. So I shot the same view a few days ago, although it may not look like it as many of the featured buildings back then are obscured by newer buildings.

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The Power and Beauty of B&W by Michael Ryan

When photography began it was all in B&W and the fact that serious photography was always in B&W was so ingrained that it would be over a century before anyone would take colour photography seriously. Today the quality of colour photography is so high (and the digital revolution has made it so easily achievable and flexible) you might wonder why anyone would bother with B&W anymore. But B&W photography has actually enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years with many photo magazines specialising in monochrome, and exhibitions being won by B&W shots, and thousands of tutorials online showing how to achieve good B&W results.

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How to Help your Family Love your Photography by Michael Ryan

Every family has one enthusiastic photographer (I’m assuming it’s you if you are reading this) which as you know can result in eyes to heaven and heavy sighing on day trips, holidays or even just play time with your kids. So here’s a few tips on how to reverse that situation and make having their photos taken more enjoyable for them and allow you to shoot better photographs at the same time.

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Sleeping Beauty by Michael Ryan

My eldest daughter, Ling Li, is back in Ireland to finish her education as she wants to go to acting school and it just wasn’t possible in China.So for a farewell present we did one final shoot together (not for all time obviously – but for the moment). Sleeping Beauty is and always has been her favorite princess so we did a shoot themed around the idea of Sleeping Beauty, but of course in my style.

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Maternity by Michael Ryan

Recently, thanks to my wife's support, I have been engaging in some maternity photography which is a big change from my corporate work. As we have one room in our apartment with floor to ceiling windows I decided to use it as a daylight studio.

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Jellyfish by Michael Ryan

I love jellyfish, at a distance of course. But they are magnificently graceful creatures in the water. Although most of my experience growing up was seeing them washed up on the beach. Shanghai aquarium has several enormous tanks of jellyfish so I took a long awaited trip there recently to shoot them in close quarters.

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Carmina Burana part two: Costumes by Michael Ryan

Costume photography for the opera Carmina Burana. As the kids were training hard for the opera I had only one hour to do all the costume photography so it was a manic one hour of photography in the make shift studio in the school’s theatre. I wish I had more time to light each composition perfectly but that’s the job for a commercial photographer. The amazing costumes only consisted of 15 different fabrics which were dyes and treated by the costume designer Ruth Pulgram to produce a fantastic range.

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Carmin Burana part one: Training by Michael Ryan

Every now and then you get a shoot that is the chance of a lifetime. I was recently hired to photograph 160 high school students perform the opera Carmina Burana on stage. The organisation Harmony Shanghai brings together kids from different cultures, German, French, American and of course Chinese to name a few, living in Shanghai though the experience of training from rank beginners to performing a full one hour dance on stage in front of a large live audience accompanied but a full processional orchestra and choir.

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Grand Poly Theatre Shanghai by Michael Ryan

I literally had a 'few' minutes to take some shots of the Grand Poly Theatre Shanghai, designed by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando, while I was there for a recce of the stage for an upcoming performance of Carmina Burana I was shooting. These were shot on my 42 megapixel full frame camera and my iPhone. I had been following 150 high school students who are training to perform on stage in front of a live audience with a full orchestra and choir. I will be posting some blog entries from that journey shortly after this.

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Flying Dragons by Michael Ryan

Who doesn't love dragonflies? Beautiful creatures found all over the world. I remember them from summers in Ireland and they're in every park and near every lake in China too. An assistant I had once told me when she was a kid herself and her friend decided to make necklaces out of dragonflies so they caught them and stitched them together. But they were still alive and when she put the necklace on they bit her all around her neck. Kids!

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