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Beautiful Mudflats in China: Xiapu & Tulou

$4950.00 / $2,000.00 deposit

20th - 28th May, 2023

Join internationally-renowned photographer, Thierry Bornier, for this fine-art photography workshop and discover the beautiful and unique mudflat of Xiapu in Fujian Province and many other places, including Fujian Tulou, China’s massive earthen fortresses that once housed up to 800 people. These large communal homes are a spectacular relic of traditional rural Chinese architecture.

This workshop will also offer great opportunities for drone photography.

  • Xiapu 

Xiapu, popularly known as the most charming fishing village in China, is located in the northeast of Fujian province. The village’s surrounding hills provide excellent vantage points from which to compose stunning photographs. 

Against this backdrop, you can recreate in-camera the scenes of traditional Chinese ink paintings of the sun rising or setting whilst fishing boats drift in and out, casting and dragging their nets behind them, and of vast swathes of crab nets strung between tall bamboo poles, hung with the day’s catch.

After the famous Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Xiapu is Thierry’s favourite location to shoot in China. The waters’ natural currents combined with the region’s sunny climate make the village’s mudflats rich in kelp, laver, oysters, and yellow croaker, offering wonderful and varied possibilities for photographers. 

The village is not only a prime location to photograph fishers at work, but also a great place to taste the fresh catch of the day.  Xiapu offers plenty of variety for photographers - low-lying beaches with a stunning sunrise, working fishing communities, and a picturesque old banyan tree forest to mention but a few.

  • Fujian Tulou: Mysterious Earthen Castles 

Tulous are rural dwellings found in the south-eastern province of Fujian and may easily be considered the most extraordinary type of housing in China. Constructed from the 12th century right up to the 20th, Tulous are typically three to five storey structures with a thick earthen wall and a single entrance. They tend to be vast, well-fortified buildings, capable of housing hundreds of people. In fact, they originally functioned as village units, offering safety, shelter and a sense of community. 

In 2008, the Tulous of Fujian were named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the thousands of Tulou buildings, the Zhengcheng Tulou is one of the most famous and is popularly known as “The Prince of the Tulous”. These walled villages were begun during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), when the Hakka Han moved from their original homeland in northern central China to the mountains of southeast China. From then on, construction remained much the same, until conflicts with neighbours led to the development of fort-like housing from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) up until 1949. 

Day 1 - Shanghai-Xiapu

Early morning, we will catch a high-speed train from Shanghai to Xiapu (5.5 hrs.), then transfer to our hotel for check-in.

We will have our first photographic shoot in the late afternoon.

Day 2-6 - Xiapu

We will spend the next few days shooting amidst Xiapu’s quaint fishing village atmosphere at several different locations.

Each morning will start early to catch the village’s fishermen preparing their boats and nets for the day ahead as the sun rises over their backs, their silhouettes against the shimmering waters, taken in from different angles.

April to June is the best time for seaweed here, and each day we will have many opportunities to take advantage of this to create artistic pictures.

After each morning shoot, we will return to the hotel for a full breakfast and a rest. We will then spend the rest of each day exploring Xiapu’s lively fish markets, quiet, rustic corners, creaking wooden docks, and much more. 

Every evening, we will have dinner together, followed by a group discussion about technique and composition, taking inspiration from everyone’s photos.

Day 7 - Xiapu-Xiamen

After the final morning shoot in Xiapu, we will check out of our hotel and take a high-speed train to Xiamen (2.5hrs).

A chauffeur service will take us to our hotel. We will have dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 8 - Tulou

After our breakfast, we will drive (3 hrs) to discover the 46 Fujian Tulou sites that were named in 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

We will have lunch there and continue our exploration in the Tulou Buildings, with opportunities for lifestyle and culture photography. 

At the end of the afternoon, we will return to our hotel in Xiamen and have our last dinner together.

Day 9 - Xiamen-Shanghai

After breakfast and a good rest in our hotel, we will take a high-speed train back to Shanghai, and then a car service will bring you directly to Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

If you are interested in extending your workshop in Shanghai for one or two more days, let us know, and we will organise it for you.

We strongly recommend you take out a Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance policy after booking your trip. If you cancel and your place on the workshop is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid, minus a $300 service charge. If you cancel and your place on the workshop is not then filled, you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the workshop:

More than 90 days before the start date of the workshop: full refund minus $300 service fee.

75 days or more: 75% refund.

60 days or more: 50% refund.

Less than 60 days: no refund.

Refunds will be paid by the same method the original payment was made.