China Travels March 2017 (Part I – Shanghai)

China: March 2017 (Part I – Shanghai)

Many English signs and product descriptions are misspelled in China; a fun game if you pay attention

I went into the first leg of this journey having a few preconceived notions about China.  Here’s what I expected:

  • every place to be sardine-can crowded,
  • most foods to be completely obscure and (possibly) distasteful to my pallet,
  • people to show little-to-no emotion, and
  • horrendous air pollution.

I was only marginally accurate in my expectations … but, there is so much more to China than I ever considered!

Native speaking travel friends is a huge bonus when traveling in China

I have to begin by saying that our journey through the Middle Kingdom was made exponentially easier by traveling with good friends fluent in Mandarin. Yes, some businesses and taxi drivers do speak limited English, but it is very, very limited. Jeremiah prepared for the trip for about eight months working part-way through Rosetta Stone’s Mandarin program. He also created and printed a list of common phrases, pictures of important things (e.g. noodles, train, toilet, beer) in simplified Chinese characters, and pictures of hotel and train station addresses along our route … I, conversely, flew completely blind and culturally unprepared.

Shanghai is vivid, busy, and full of things to look at everywhere

Here is what I learned, in a nut-shell: Chinese are a lovely, proud people. Proud of their culture, skylines, cutting edge technological advancements, photographs, and language. The more I witness and learn, I think they have every right to be proud! There are things in China that make my brain spin (mostly in awe rather than disbelief).

One of at least a dozen nuclear power plants I saw from the train line to Xi’an

Don’t get me wrong … I am painfully aware of the obvious ecological issues plaguing this vast nation. One day in Shanghai (and worse yet, Xi’an) and my throat and eyes were begging for mercy from the chokingly polluted air. Similarly, my heart sank as we flew over heavily traveled sea cargo lanes, drove through land masses formed from compacted trash, and discarded dizzying volumes of plastic packaging during our stay. This nation is far from perfect, but their accomplishments are wondrous. I believe that more of the world’s future is influenced by China than we may want to admit (for better and worse).

Jeremiah does a marvelous job planning our flights and transportation for all of

Ctrip is a Chinese website offering great deals on airfare

our trips. Through trial, error, and word-of-mouth, he has gleaned a handful of little-known travel planning websites that are huge assets if you like to travel and save money. Preparing for this trip he used an online Chinese travel website called C-Trip to book really great deals on airfare.

Agoda is a great online discount lodging tool for international travelers

His favorite go-to lodging website is, hands-down, Agoda. Travelers of all budget ranges (hippy backpackers to high-rollers) can find deep travel discounts to fit their style on both sites. We save hundreds of dollars each year just by using these two websites!

Our Hainan Airlines direct flight from Seattle, Washington to Shainghai, China was comfortable and spacious

From the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport we enjoyed a sparsely populated direct flight on Hainan Airlines to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. I wish all international flights were this enjoyable (and roomy)! We arrived mid-afternoon on a breezy Tuesday feeling moderately well-rested. Greeted by friends at the airport, we were promptly whisked to the taxi queue and began the 50-60 minute journey into the heart of Shanghai.

Looking down from the 78th floor is mesmerizing and dizzying

As Jeremiah is a huge fan of exceptional views, we allowed ourselves to splurged on a room at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai for this first stop. The hotel itself is gorgeous; rich woods, countless mirrored surfaces, intriguing traditional Chinese design influences, and Hyatt’s impeccable presentation.  Our room was located on the 78th floor of this staggeringly tall building.

Even though these buildings vary greatly in height, they all tower above the city streets below

One entire window wall of our hotel room faced the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center (affectionately nicknamed the ‘Bottle Opener’ by locals), and Shanghai Tower with the Huangpu River winding just beyond. I could have never left that room and still felt as if I had experienced something amazing in Shanghai … but we were just getting started!

This adventurous couple shares a kiss under the captivating Shanghai skyline they love.

Our travel companions have both called Shanghai home at different times in their lives, so they were excited to introduce us to their local friends and enjoy the city’s glamorous nightlife. There was no time for jet lag today!  Quickly, we settled into our room and freshened up. Within two hours of our arrival we were, again, out the door.

Hakkasan Shanghai is a beautiful stop for dinner or a quick drink before a night on the town.

We met up with an intimate group of vibrant, well-educated friends for dinner and drinks at Hakkasan. I highly recommend at least stopping here for one of master-bartender, Alan’s, scrumptious libations! I fell in love with a rosemary-infused gift to my taste buds called “Jade”.  The restaurant is comfortable yet elegant.  The dining room offers intimate seating areas decorated in rich jewel tones, supple fabrics and skirted by a stunning view of the Shanghai skyline.

Club Myst in Shanghai really knows how to rock a Tuesday night

Moving on from the restaurant, our growing group cozied up in a couple of taxis in search of someplace to get our boogie on; we found it at Myst. From the street we could barely hear the faint rhythm pulsing from inside.  We climbed the wide, black staircase to the club’s entrance. Almost as if my hesitation was expected, the neon red-lettered sign on the wall of the upper floor’s landing teased, “ARE YOU READY?” I’ll admit it now … my jet-lagged brain was NOT ready for the sensory overload that followed.

Colored lights, confetti and music on an unassuming Tuesday evening at Myst in Shanghai

The doors swung open into a gymnasium-sized room literally vibrating from the music inside. Blue and white lights pulsed over the teeming mass of dancing bodies on each of the club’s three levels. The entire wall behind the DJ booth was a digital kaleidoscope of light and color, ever changing with the beat of the music. What a party!

As if to punctuate the festivities, confetti rained down on us at regular intervals. We took turns throwing handfuls into the air and dancing it into paste underfoot.

We finally slunk back to our hotel around 6:00am as the sun began to rise over the waking city.

Morning or night, chongqing noodles are an exciting treat in China

We awoke only a few hours later to the call for a brunch of spicy Chongqing noodles we were told would “change our lives”. These noodles originate from the Chongqing area in southwest China and are called ‘xiao mian’ in Chinese.  Xiao mian refers to a group of plain noodles seasoned with vinegar, sugar, red oil, ginger and scallion. Sometimes the noodles and broth may be topped with meat.  Noodles in northen China emphasize the soup base and the quality of noodles, while Chongqing noodles are focused on seasonings.

We taxied under the Huangpu River to West Nanjing Road much the same as we had the evening before. As we drove through this sprawling city I couldn’t help but think that all of the storefronts seemed identical. Perhaps not identical … but a succession of the same stores repeated in random order. At one such row of non-descript storefronts we exited the cab, entered an unlabeled, white facade building, and ordered several bowls of spicy beef noodles with peanuts and greens.

After this meal of spicy Chongqing noodles our group left full and happy

Upon arrival, there was nothing noteworthy about the appearance of this restaurant.  Workers sat at tables in the back corner mashing peanuts and preparing other foods; customers sat cafeteria-style at long wooden tables and hard, wooden benches; a handful of faded, framed pictures of various soup dishes lined the walls at eye-level, and we even brought our own tissues/napkins and drinks (purchased from the convenience store across the alley). The noodles, however, did make the world right again!

Chongqing noodles have a wonderful flavor and zesty broth

Our oversized bowls were served brimming with crushed peanuts, chopped greens, strips of beef, broth, and noodles hiding below the surface. The slightly oily broth was fiery red throughout, dotted with orange and red chili flecks. We anxiously cooled our dishes and then happily wept as the spice filled our senses (and sinuses). I am so glad I packed extra tissue packets! Even though we were achingly full at the end, friends still eagerly picked over the empty bowls for any morsels left behind.

Late morning gloom turned into rainy afternoon skies and chilling wind. We gathered with friends again as dusk fell and headed out to glimpse the lights of the city. We started the evening with a sunset view from the second highest observatory in the world, the 119th floor of the Shanghai Tower.

Standing on the street below these enormous Shanghai skyscrapers gives a small idea of their enormity

Fun Fact: the Shanghai Tower stands, currently, mostly empty. Yes, this 137 floor behemoth of a skyscraper (5 basement levels, 127 floors above ground and 5 podium floors) uses electricity (daily) on every floor, and only operates businesses on a few of the basement levels. Weird, right?!

The architecture of the Shanghai Tower is beautiful and intricate (even down to the details at the basement escalator)

Anyhow, we wound our way from the entry ticket counter (the price for taking the elevator to the sightseeing deck is CNY 160 per adult, CNY 90 for children between 3.3 and 4.6 feet, and this service is available from 9:00am to 9:00pm) down several levels of spacious escalators to the stark white, and very dotted escalator queue.

Friends having fun in front of the amazing view from the observatory floor of the Shanghai Tower

Entering the elevator meant passing (for an ever-so-short moment) over a howling gap filled with biting air. The ride was lightning-fast (55 seconds to travel up 119 floors) and so smooth. As we reached our stop, the car swayed and stalled in its tracks and sent all our stomachs to our feet. Jeremiah glanced down the chasm while exiting and stopped in his tracks. He held onto the door, swayed, and giggled nervously. I hate heights, so I nudged him impatiently forward without looking into the abyss between.

West-facing dusk view from the Shanghai Tower of the bustling city below

The mouth of the elevator emptied into a beautiful yet simple doughnut-shaped space ringing together an observatory deck, gift shop, gut-clenching simulated shattering glass floor (complete with sound), seated cafe area, and local-area history placards. On the north side, the evening’s storm whipped rain against the glass and only offered limited visibility. The southeast lit up bright along the winding industrial riverside. Finally, the sun went down in the west beyond the Bund area in a haze of smog and rain. Every visitor walked laps around the observatory taking in the enormity of the structure as an accomplishment … and the view didn’t hurt!

Shanghai Financial Building and River view from the observatory deck of the Shanghai Tower

I imagine that vantage probably allowed you to see for 50 miles on a high-visibility day. The Shanghai World Financial Center appeared dwarfed by the new Shanghai Tower and I couldn’t help but be amazed at how quickly the Chinese culture strives for the next great thing, even to the end of one-upping itself. I heard there is another tower being built in China now which will be taller than the Shanghai Tower … wow!

Admittedly, the sunset in Shanghai wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the colored lights that began to dazzle us from the land below.

Playful couples in spectacular cities make taking amazing photos fun!

The landscape of Shanghai at night is stunning. Bright, dazzling lights adorning buildings, new and old, in a wash of vivid color. What an amazing time to take lifestyle photographs of some great people! On the city streets of Shanghai, at the feet of these glass and steel sentinels we were (moments before) standing atop, the love for Shanghai our friends share came alive in electric images.

Young vibrant, couple under Shanghai neon night sky

We played with depth and perspective to capture the scale of the surroundings and had a blast creating a long exposure image of the couple hugging amidst the busyness of Nanjing Road (know as one of the most traveled shopping streets in the world). Across the Huangpu River on the Bund, Jeremiah was able to capture the couple’s favorite view, the whole Shanghai skyline, with them front and center.

Location photography sessions in an area of significance to a couple are always special! The subjects’ familiarity and pride in their surroundings comes across in the images we create … the results are magical.

Late night bites at a no-name shop don’t get much better than this … frog, fish, and spicy green beans, oh my!

We rounded out the evening with a late-night supper of grilled frog, pickled and spiced green beans, and a whole baked fish at an unassuming roadside cafe and liquor mart.  I had never tried frog before and was pleasantly surprised.  The mild white-meat flavor of frog is worthwhile, but I did find that the little bones throughout proved difficult when trying to negotiate with chopsticks … I managed fine once I got the hang of things, though.

As the city slowly grew quiet and the glistening lights of storefronts fell dark in the late night hours, we walked contentedly back to our hotel for much needed rest.  Tomorrow we would board a fast train for Xi’an and the ancient Terracotta Warrior Army excavation and exhibit site.  Although exhausted, we each buzzed with excitement for the adventure to come.

Until next time … Safe travels,

Shaunna & Jeremiah

Our Stunning Pacific Northwest … THE Ideal Destination Photography Backdrop


If you live in the panhandle of Idaho, you have probably parroted a variation of a famous Mark Twain quote without ever realizing it.  “If you don’t like the weather in __________, just wait a few minutes.”  I know we have teasingly uttered this phrase countless times during photo sessions hoping to calm anxious clients in the face of foreboding skies.

weather in idaho

The truth is … weather in the Pacific Northwest is predictably unpredictable, and the show must go on regardless.  Just this past month we experienced blistering heat, menacing hail, torrential rain, freezing winds, and perfect calm … sometimes all in the same 24 hour period.  Fortunately, the brides and grooms we work with not only understand this meteorological volatility, but embrace it!


Clients who hire us to capture their family, engagement, or wedding photographs enjoy stunning, natural surroundings, and want those surroundings to be the backdrop for their special event.  Some clients are local to Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington, and some choose to create a destination engagement or wedding celebration here because of the natural beauty.  But, all of these good folks are willing to smile in the face of whatever Mother Nature dishes out.


Whether high atop blustery Mt. Spokane (Washington) … wading through a sun-soaked field of daisies in Sandpoint, Idaho … indulging in fanciful dress-up in a salvage yard on the outskirts of Hayden Lake, Idaho … or laughing together along the shimmering waters of Priest Lake (Idaho) … our clients’ stories of love and life come alive in the images we capture throughout this breathtaking region.


We understand, our images aren’t run of the mill … but neither are our clients.


In fact, we strive to blaze an exciting new path in the world of commonplace, copy-cat Pinterest images.  We are here to do photographic justice for the playful couple who love Star Wars almost as much as they love each other … the bride wearing a hoodie over her wedding dress while eating s’mores by a lake-side campfire … and the groom who whisks his bride off after their wedding ceremony in his vintage single-prop airplane. We celebrate their gusto and we honor them with images as vivid as the lives they lead!


After all … love is alive, and adventurous, and gritty, and awe-inspiring!  The Pacific Northwest embodies these qualities and never ceases to impress all of one’s senses.  We are truly fortunate to work and live in such a magical region.

When you are ready to share your love with the world, (be it here, there, or anywhere in between,) call Jeremiah Andrews Photography to capture the images of your priceless memories!

Until then … be well and safe travels,

Jeremiah & Shaunna







Love Springs Eternal In The ‘Kingdom Of Wonder’

love springs eternal in cambodia

“She enchanted him, he fascinated her.  Shyness and sadness, no longer alone in the lands.  Bound together with shared demands.  Felt by both, ‘Love springs eternal.’  A life of bliss, spirits entwined, love that is pure in spirit and mind.”  ~A. Halat

angkor wat couple photography

From the moment we set foot on the dusty red clay soil of Cambodia we understood that the land possesses magical powers.  Its cities captivate you with their vibrant and unique personalities … its magnificent and mysterious temples inspire awe … its people are forever warm and welcoming … and the energy that pulses through it all is undeniable.


Cambodia’s intriguing natural beauty is fertile ground in which the vibrant blossom of new love blooms readily.


While on our most recent month in Cambodia we had the wonderful privilege of photographing our dear friend, Sara, with her love on the grounds of the Angkor Wat temples.  The results are adventurous, playful, and exotic.  In other words, the images are AMAZING!!


Let me back up a bit … after all, our story doesn’t start here.  People do not typically just call us up out of the blue and ask us to do a destination photography session (literally) on the other side of the world;  This situation is no exception.  As with several of our close friends, we first met Sara through the purchase of a local Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Groupon (click here to view the Jeremiah Andrews Photography Groupon).


During their initial photography session, Jeremiah resonated with Sara’s zest for life and playful spirit.  The two kept in touch over the years as Sara’s path led her abroad and, finally, to Hawaii for career and pleasurable pursuits.  When Jeremiah and I traveled to Hawaii for a destination wedding we decided it was high-time to get old friends together.  The resulting visit (and boogie-boarding hijinks) still bring broad smiles and belly laughs to each of us to this day.

destination photo shoot hawaii

As we planned our most recent trip to Southeast Asia we were excited to learn that Sara, again, wanted our travel paths to cross.  She and her beau, Taylor, planned to join us for a little adventure abroad and have pictures taken to commemorate their love and the trip.


Combining our admiration of the ancient temples of Cambodia with this couple’s love of each other and adventurous spirit made the scenes come to life.


We spent two days traveling with the couple through several of the Angkor Wat temples in pursuit of killer images.  We covered countless bumpy and treacherous miles between temple sites on our treks.  The days were overwhelmingly hot and humid but our spirits were light and happy.  We laughed and enjoyed all the land had to offer during our time abroad together.

sara n shaunna

Some people may not be aware of sprawling complex of Cambodian temples called “Angkor Wat” (simply translated as “City of Temples”).  Others may be surprised to learn that Angkor Wat not only refers specifically to the capital temple most commonly envisioned by travelers, but also encompasses dozens of outlaying temples varying in age and size.  What ever your understanding is of Cambodia and its temple jewels, you owe it to yourself to learn more about these Khmer gems.  They truly are among the top wonders of the world!

angkor gang

We won’t soon forget our fun in Cambodia, or the ones dear to us who shared it with us this year.  We hope to return to the “Kingdom of Wonder” for other photographic opportunities as soon as we are able.  In the mean time … we hope you enjoy our images of Sara & Taylor’s time at Angkor Wat.

Safe travels,

Shaunna & Jeremiah



Oh, the places we go …

You wouldn’t believe the number of comments we get while out and about, “You are always on the go!  So busy!  How do you find time to work?”  It’s true.  We are always on the go, but… surprise, surprise… we aren’t always just playing.

In truth, we intentionally try to find ways to bridge the work-fun gap by playing while we work.


I know, mind = blown, right?  After all, who can actually pull off having a blast while they work?  Um…  a destination lifestyle photographer, that’s who.  Want to see a little bit of what that looks like?  Okay, come on… let’s go!

Last weekend’s mid-September shoot was an engagement session for some very dear friends, Jamie and Andrew. When approached with the idea of piggybacking their engagement photo session onto a weekend hike into Goldbug Hot Springs (located near Salmon, Idaho) we were all in!  We have been wanting to explore some of the amazing hot springs nestled on and around the Snake River and this trip was the perfect excuse… I mean, reason.


Since this was not just a “fun” hiking trip, we had to be mindful to pack our equipment carefully into our main packs.  Yup, you guessed it… our beer reserve suffered for the cause of lightening our packs’ weight.  After all, we planned to hike, with full backpacks, the whole 3-4 miles into the hot springs and camp for three days.  We needed to bring only the essentials… and 40 pounds of “essentials” consisted of camera gear alone.  Thankfully, the late summer Idaho/Montana weather was on our side.  Bathing suits, Chocos, and sweatshirts to stave off the evening chill completed our weekend wardrobe.


The hike in was challenging… and breathtakingly remarkable.  So worth it!  Goldbug’s hot springs did not disappoint; there must have been almost a dozen tiered pools with varying combinations of hot and cold rushing spring water.  To say that sitting on the top of a mountain, basking in the warm summer sun, eating fresh foods/drinking local beers, and taking pictures of a beautiful couple full of love is “work” is not 100% true… but it is truly a perk to my profession.


During the photo session we needed to be mindful of all of the things that go into producing beautiful images for the couple, as well as keeping water out of the cameras… very, very careful.


Jamie and Andrew were wonderfully spontaneous and fun, fun, fun!  Their personalities shone through so easily.  We didn’t have to coax kisses or love out of these two.


Now that the weekend is over and we are back to day-to-day life we get to reflect on the wonderful benefits of being a destination photographer.  We really do get to see some amazing sights… and, oh my, the wonderful places we go!

We should mention, the support system we have at home is unparalleled.  Our friends, family, and even grown children rally around us and help keep everything from falling apart while we embark on our photography journeys… we know we couldn’t do all of this without all of them!


So what’s to be learned from this?  Maybe, sharing our adventures will prompt others to get out and explore.  Perhaps someone will realize that “jobs” don’t have to drain you, they can feed your soul too.  Whatever the case, we hope that our images and exploits bring enjoyment and laughter to all they touch.  Go on… live every moment… laugh every day… love deeply… and take lots of pictures!


~Jeremiah & Shaunna


Destination Wedding: LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Last weekend, while my friends and family were enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest’s early start to summer weather, I boarded an airplane for La Crosse, Wisconsin.

mk-229“Why in the world are you going to Wisconsin?” you ask. To photogrph my favorite kind of wedding … a destination wedding … I say!

IMG_0527While I love to take photographs in and around the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane areas, I am always super stoked when I have the opportunity to join a wedding party in another state (or country) on their special day. This was just such an occasion!

10557360_10152292514950765_563686280149497669_nIt all started in early Spring 2014 when my fun-loving bride and groom (Matt and Kelly) drove over four hours from their home in Montana to have me shoot their engagement photographs. What a rad couple! We had many laughs throughout the day and realized that we all shared a love of fine spirits and beer … these are my kind of quality folks.

10487240_10152292515160765_7539880754186938960_nWe instantly hit it off and had a blast during the photo session. The couple was surprised to learn that I encourage out-of-town wedding inquiries. In fact, I like to remind people to consider hiring me (a photographer they are already familiar with and trust) for destination wedding events. Often times the price paid to me for my photography session and travel is LESS than hiring an unknown photographer at the destination location.

IMG_0499Wherever I travel I try to find interesting ways to catch some of the local culture and night life. I was stoked to be able to catch a Devil Makes Three and Old Crow Medicine Show concert the night I flew into town.

IMG_0485(1)These bands rocked and the Vetter Stone Amphitheater in Mankato, Minnesota is an awesome venue. I highly suggest both.

IMG_0513My bride and groom-to-be were perfect in every way! Matt and Kelly graciously invited me to share the fun of their rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, and made me feel like ‘one of the gang’. I got to experience some great fun and lots of really flavorful craft beers.

mk-228The day of the ceremony went off without a hitch. The bridal party and I took our time playing and taking pictures. We spent a good portion of the day off gallivanting even before the ceremony’s festivities began.

mk-222The couple was spontaneous and gladly let me work my creative magic. I feel that the images I delivered of their day show the true celebratory vibe of their special day. With very little direction, Kelly and Matt knew I would deliver a product that was beautiful, joyful, and captured their love for each other. I have to say that I believe we ended up with just what they wanted.

mk-231We traveled in a party bus (super fun, by the way) to multiple breweries, and even stopped along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and greenery.

mk-219(1)We had lots of time to incorporate quirky picture settings and take candid shots of the bride, groom, and wedding party outside of the formal ceremony. This is so important for a couple like this who wanted to make a day of the celebration. This was their day and they loved every minute of it.

mk-226During the ceremony and reception I could really feel the love and happiness that wrapped around the couple. They are blessed to be supported and cared for in such a deep and meaningful way. By the way, did I mention that these people could get their groove on? Oh, yeah. That happened!

mk-235Thank you again to Matt and Kelly for making my trip to La Crosse such a blast! I am a lucky guy to get to spend time with cool lovebirds like them, and capture amazing portrait memories for them in the process.

This is why I love being a destination wedding photographer!