Published on: 26th Oct 2015
Yixian (Yi) is a county in Anhui Province, People's Republic of China.The villages of Xidi and Hongcun is in Yixian County and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yixian County was built during the Qin Dynasty in 221-207 B.C. Mount Huangshan was once called "Yi Shan" and this is where Yi(xian) gets its name from, as it is located at the foot of Mount Huangshan. Yixian County boasts many villages with numerous Ming and Qing Dynasty buildings in brick, stone and wood. These villages are nowadays extensively used by the Chinese film industry for historical movies. Scenes from the well-known film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) were filmed in Yi(xian) County. In fact, it is inevitable that on a visit to Yixian, you will run into a film crew busy shooting scenes for an upcoming film!
Yixian County is also the host of one of the most popular annual photography festivals and it always takes placeat the end of October or beginning of November to coincide with the beautiful autumn colours of the region. I was privileged to be invited in 2013 and 2014 to attend and exhibit the photo festivals and will be returning to the festival in November 2015. 2015 also marked their 10th annual Photo Festival.
During such a festival, outings to surrounding villages are organised. It is done is such a way that not all 500 photographers arrive at the same village at the same time. Our group were always around 15 people and we in fact seldom run into other groups of photographers.
This article is to share some of my photos and experiences while visiting these villages. It contain photos taken at the following villages:
The most important villages will obviously be Hongcun and Xidi, as they are UNESCOworld heritage sites. I’ve visited both on two occasions, and both times it was an amazing experience. Due to the fact that they are so wellknown, they are also very crowded and one needs to be patient and have a few tricks up one’s sleeve in order to get unique photos in these two villages.
The other villages are not so well known and also not so crowded, so spending time in these villages are very rewarding. The people are normally very friendly and accommodating, as they know these festivals are organised to promote their county. On several occasions a local asked me into their house and offered me something to eat or drink.
The first day of the festival is allocated for the opening ceremonies as well as browsing through the photo exhibitions. (And believe me it cloud take you more than one day to browse through the approximate 7500 photographs!). You normally will also get some more time on some of the other days to browse through more exhibitions. We usually will have two organised outings per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon - and we never visit the same village twice!
As you can see, some of these photos required special equipment, so this is one of my tips when travelling:
Last tip: If you can afford it, a trip to Yixian County will be a very rewarding photographic holiday. Plan to stay at least one week, but to get a good variety of photos, make it 2 or even 3 weeks! You may incorporate a visit to Huangshan, but that I will cover in a separate article. The best time will definitely be end of October or beginning of November.
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)