Exhibition: Sound and Emotion

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Motherland Chronicles on show at Carnevale Gallery in Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas
Super excited to be showing a number large format prints from the Motherland Chronicles collection in Las Vegas this month. Visit Carnevale Gallery in Caesar's Palace to see them in person if you're in town! :D

Sound and Emotion
Feb 8th - March 31st, 2016
Carnevale Gallery 
(Appian Way, Caesar's Palace)
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Ste 20
Las Vegas, Nevada

Some pieces on show:

Umbral

       

Sadness and Pain

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My grandma passed away on Boxing Day six years ago.

No one told me the news, even though she was the only one who raised me when I was a child. The way I found out was cruel in its offhandedness, the memory loops around in my head every year when the season comes around.

It hurts, so much so that I sometimes want to claw my chest out and rip my heart to pieces so the pain can stop.

It was the last time I celebrated a Christmas or New Year.


There are blocks of days in a year that are blacked out in my mind. These are days where I know I can’t function. I can't avoid the nightmares, I still mourn.

Sometimes I wonder if it will only end when the entire year is dipped in black, because then I would have no choice but to accept those days as the new norm and live.

Maybe I hold on to too much, maybe I am not as strong as others, maybe I can never become a person who doesn’t cry on days close to the death anniversaries of people I knew and cared about. But I think that's okay. It's a part of me, and has made me into who I am today.

Festive seasons make it hard to talk about pain. If you are hurting inside, you are not alone.
       

14 Tips for Photographers Who Want to go Pro

Friday, December 18, 2015


This is the sixth article in my Profoto Blog series

Hi everyone! In my last five articles for this series, I have covered the process of producing photoshoots, my favorite fashion photography lighting equipment, and tips on how to break into fashion photography. In this sixth and final piece, I would like to follow up on breaking into fashion photography and talk about how one develops into a professional photographer.

People arrive at their destinations through different paths, but many also share the same struggles, dilemmas, and pitfalls. I hope my thoughts will shed some light on what the path of going pro often entails. Let me know what you think at the end of the post!

1) Learn to be Prepared


This subject may sound silly, but for the most of us, we have no idea as to what we’re doing when we first start learning.

On the day I did my first shoot with my first camera, I took it out of its packaging, pressed the shutter, and was greeted with the message: “No Card”.

I’ve always been a more hands-on learner, and prefer jumping into things and learning on the go. However, I’ve learned that gaining a basic understanding of something new before diving in helps manage expectations and allow things to go much more smoothly. Google tips and how-to’s before you try something you haven’t done before, there is usually always some good advice out there, even amongst the seemingly bad ones.

2) Learn with What You Have


My first shoots were self-portraits, pictures of friends, and of my younger sister. If you can photograph normal people and create compelling images, you know you are on the right track in terms of aesthetics and skill-building. As you improve, you will find that people will want to work with you based on your ability to achieve good work with non-models.

My first purchase after my camera was a second-hand hot light, also known as a continuous light. I had endless questions about which strobes to buy or lenses to add to my collection. But at the end of the day, I learned that the 18-55mm kit lens was a decent range to work with as a new photographer, and that a hot light provided me with a good deal of room in terms of experimentation. I mastered shooting with one light, and many of my early works were shot with it alone in my family’s living room.

3) Be Genuine and Do Things Because You Want to


My first model agency test happened through someone I was assisting. The photographer was shooting portraits of elderly people, I was interested in his work and wanted to know what the shoots were like, so I volunteered. One day, he set up a shoot with an agency model and encouraged me to do something on my own. I was given time to set up after he was done. The model’s agency loved my pictures, and they have continued sending me girls ever since.

Do things that you are genuinely interested in. Don’t do things with mixed intentions, ulterior motives or expect reciprocal favors.

People will remember the person who genuinely wanted to be a part of something that they cared about. They will think of you when something perfect for you comes along. This is how opportunities happen.

       

New Course: Artistic Portrait Photography

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Hi everyone! I am super excited to share that I will be offering my very first online photography course—Artistic Portrait Photography—on Learn Squared.

In this course, I will walk you through my process of crafting a unique, creative portrait photoshoot.

Beginning with the basics of photography, I will go through all the steps I take from production, lighting, retouching to post-production.

Limited places available for mentorships.

Check out the course page for more information. Hope to see you there! :D 

       

Top 10 Fashion Photography Lighting Tools

Monday, November 23, 2015


This is the fifth article in my Profoto Blog series

In my previous article on how to break into fashion photography, I mentioned a few lighting modifiers frequently used in the industry. In this piece, I would like to provide some examples of those modifiers used in my work and also share with you my thoughts on a range of other equipment that I favor in the studio. I hope you will find this article helpful!


Lights

Monolight




After renting equipment in and out of studios for many years, when I set up my own home studio, I decided to get monolights. Each of these lights is a single unit, making it easy to carry, set up and pack away. The lower price point also makes them more affordable, thus allowing me to have more. So I got 4 of the D1 Air 500s.

Since I can shoot most of my standard fashion, beauty and portrait work with monolights, they are my go-to lights at any time. 

       

15 Tips on How to Break into Fashion Photography

Thursday, March 19, 2015


In my last three articles, I talked about producing commercial and personal photoshoots, and tips on how to improve one’s photography. In this guide, I want to share my thoughts on how to break into fashion photography.

Fashion photography is a highly exclusive and competitive industry. Getting in requires dedication, commitment, hard work, and often times, a dash of good luck and timing. There is no great secret or shortcut, it is going to be a tough journey, and you must be prepared for the long-haul.


1. Understand Fashion

Christian Dior Couture Fall 2008 Backstage

Just as a photographer should know how to operate a camera, a fashion photographer should possess a basic knowledge of fashion. A good understanding of the subject will go a long way towards helping your career, so I recommend studying the following:

– The history of fashion
– Fashion from different periods and eras
Designers, icons, and image-makers
– Fashion terminologies
– Hairstyles and makeup looks
– Fashion films and documentaries
– Current industry news

Many photographers try to shoot fashion without knowing what fashion is. It shows. Don’t let some reading hold you back from the possibility of producing better work. Most materials on these topics are readily available on the internet now, so there is really no excuse.


2. Read Magazines, Learn Who’s Who


Reading magazines is a great way to find inspirational images and ideas for new photographers. Take this time to curate the styles and work that you find yourself responding to. Identify traits in the photographs you like and explore those for your own shoots. Save the names of people whose styles you feel for, so you can work towards collaborating with them one day.

Also keep in mind that publications have different demographics and aesthetics from one another. Knowing who wants what will be very helpful in preparing an appropriate portfolio for the kinds of magazines that you want to shoot for in the future.

       

Elle Vietnam: Minh Hang

Monday, January 26, 2015


New cover and editorial for Elle Vietnam's Lunar New Year issue featuring Vietnamese singer/actress Minh Hang. Styling by Phuong My.






Minh Hang
Elle Vietnam, Janurary 2015

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Stylist: Phuong My


Model: Minh Hằng
Makeup: Minh Loc
Hair: SiNam Nguyen @ HairBar
Set Design: Zhang Jingna & Phuong My
Flowers by Padma de Fleur
Photographer's Assistants: Ernie Chang & Nguyen Phuong Thao
Stylist assistant: Thao Nguyen
Location: S3 Studios


       

Exhibition: Your Favorite Artist's Favorite Artist

Friday, December 5, 2014



A few weeks ago, out of the blue, Kris Kuksi sent me a message on Facebook asking if I had any works available to show. He wanted to invite me to exhibit with him at Joshua Liner Gallery's upcoming show—Your Favorite Artist's Favorite Artist—taking place in New York from November 20th to December 20th. 

For those of you not familiar with Kris' work:

Kris Kuksi, Reticent Affair, 2012.

Amazing isn't it? Del Toro collects his work and he's inviting me as his favorite artist?! Dude.

I said yes of course, that I would be honored to. And although I didn't have anything with me then, I would be happy to get something done for the show.

In response he thanked me.

Imagine Waterhouse thanking me for agreeing to take part in a Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood show. Yeah.

After my participation was confirmed, Kris and I worked on picking out my piece. We agreed on my final work from the Motherland Chronicles series—The Death of Eurydice.

Motherland Chronicles #52 - The Death of Eurydice

The next step was getting the print done and finding a frame. The print was easy, I just had to sit at the printers for two days and do a thousand proofs, the hard part was getting the frame.

Long since my first solo show, 6 years ago now, I've wanted to one day show my work in an ornate gold frame, this is one of my most appropriate works for it. So I brought the idea to Kris who gave it his immediate approval and support, but it turned out that finding one though, wasn't quite as easy.

I went to flea markets, antique stores, asked for recommendations and searched online. Nada. Until finally, I found Lowy Frame and Restoration Company. They have a collection of over 4000 antique frames and the best customer service ever (thank you Rebecca!), and were able to find me the most wonderful thing I have ever seen—an 18th century Louis XV frame with sweep ornamentation. It was pure beauty.

Death of Eurydice by Zhang Jingna, in 18th century Louis XV French frame with sweep ornaments in corners and centers.
Photo courtesy of Lowy Framing.
Once the framing was done at Lowy's, the work was delivered to the gallery for installation. My job was done, yay! But leading up to the opening I started thinking, what if the frame's gold popped too much? What if the print turned out too green under the gallery lights? What if the work didn't look good anymore?! What if?!!

I fretted the whole week until the day the show opened. And when I arrived that night I realized I hadn't needed to. It was perfection.




Photo courtesy of D. Yee.
Photo courtesy of D. Yee.

I met up with friends, chatted with fans, and was introduced to some very lovely, nice people. Then one of my assistants brought me this flyer where the gallery artists wrote introductions for the guest artists they invited. And I was all oh that's cool, let's see what it says

Kris Kuksi on Zhang Jingna:      "I choose Zhang Jingna to be a part of this show because her work escapes its own medium. Her photographic portraits seem to transcend creating the soft and voluptuous color of figural forms reminiscent in symbolist painters of the 19th century. She captures a refreshing perspective of an archetypical lover with a skill free from the bonds of 'formulation'. There is soul and pure human expression in her works that I believe everyone can relate to present in her portraiture—both the warmth and chill of emotions. At such a young age it will be very exciting to see her career move forward though her work arrives already present-day mature and refined."
... Words failed me, I blushed so hard and was so moved I was close to tears.

Having validation like this from an artist I've admired for years, it's so touching and heartwarming I can't even begin to describe. I can't begin to express how much it means to me.

Thank you Kris, for inspiring and motivating me to work even harder now.

I can't wait to share my new work with all of you. :D


If you are in New York, Your Favorite Artist's Favorite Artist is on show at Joshua Liner Gallery through December 20th, 2014. Please stop by if you have the chance.
       

Profoto Blog Series: 14 Steps to Improve Your Photography

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Here is my 3rd article in the Profoto blog series. Enjoy~


If you have been shooting for a while, whether as a professional photographer or a hobbyist, how do you improve? This is one of the questions I am often asked when a photographer writes to me. With the last two articles, I covered commercial and personal photoshoot productions. For this one I want to turn things inward a little, and talk about how to improve ourselves and better our photography.



So, without further ado, here are my 14 steps to improve your photography!

 




1. Never Be Satisfied

Motherland Chronicles #4 - The Waiting

To start off, I want to focus a little on humility. If you want to get better, you must know that there is room for you to improve and open yourself to criticisms.

If you are already satisfied with yourself, then you lack the hunger that will push you to get better.

Self-assess your weaknesses and keep a list of things you want to improve. Work on them all the time.


2. Build a Feedback Group


Build a trusted circle of friends with good eyes and tastes. Get their opinions and discuss your work on a regular basis.

You can pose specific questions such as, “How can I improve this composition?” or “Which one do you prefer between crop A and crop B, why?” Or you can ask broader questions about your body of work such as, “What do you think is missing from my work?” or “What do you think will make my pictures better?”

Jot down the feedback and distill them into key points. There will be hits and misses of course, because people are different from one another. But these fresh perspectives will help you see things anew, and cover any points you may have missed out on from your personal assessments.