Published: April 2014

Photo Journal

Fake flowers around them and water pipes overhead, a couple embrace on a set in a Shanghai wedding portrait studio

Something Borrowed

Photographs and text by Guillaume Herbaut

It was my first time in Shanghai, and my goal was to shoot a story about love. Someone had told me about these wedding photo shops where couples go to have their post-engagement shots taken, and I wandered into one called the Princess Studio. The decor there was amazing. In France, where I’m from, we are used to a natural decor for portraits, but this was more like the decor from a movie set.

There were makeup artists and costume designers and hairdressers and different sets in big, open rooms. Just from where I stood, I could see the door of a Gothic castle. On my left I saw a mountain scene with snow. In front of me was another castle door. The engaged couples come into these shops and choose six or eight or ten of these sets as the backgrounds for their photos. And then they have to choose their outfits and makeup for each scene.

It is artificial. It’s completely a construct, like a fantasy world. I think it is more like a dream of love than love itself.

Guillaume Herbaut is represented by the Institute agency. See more of his work at
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