Motherland Chronicles #42 - Tabitha

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #42 - Tabitha

Photography/makeup: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Model: Tabitha Ashura
Photo Assistants: Alyssa Yee, Shirley Yu
Necklaces: Harlequin Romantique



Tabby is a model and friend of one of my favorite artists Lu Cong. He was in NY a while ago and introduced us when he came on set one of my shoots. 

I meant to do a casting test with Tabby but she stayed so far from me I ended up making it a Motherland shot in the end haha and did the makeup and everything to. So if it looks less stellar than usual you know whose fault that is. :( 

Also took a couple clean portraits while testing the new Profoto umbrellas, the light is so gorgeous! :3



Love this one so much cuz it looks exactly like her expressions in Lu Cong's paintings :D 


I'd been meaning to do a behind-the-scenes for the fire shoot but haven't had time, so this is up first, till I get around to finishing that one~ :D
       

Motherland Chronicles #39 - Underwater

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #39 - Underwater

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Makeup: Lindsey Rivera
Model: Jessica Dru Johnson
Photo Assistants: Tobias Kwan, Alex Stoddard, Diana Chao, Sophia Chang
Dress: Michelle Hebert
Choker: Harlequin Romantique
Housing and strobe rental: AB Sea Photo, LA



My second underwater attempt! I had to deal with equipment all on my own this time and holy cow it was so freaking stressful. ._.

I use a 1Ds Mark III which may be old now, but cost me an arm and a leg when I bought it in 2008, so I was epically nervous each time I had to open up the housing then go back down into the water again. Thank god it didn't flood.  >_<

Camera in the housing!

I had to practice opening/closing the housing and changing the ports/domes for like 2 hours at home to make sure I'd remember everything haha.

Someone also randomly asked me on Instagram how much this weighed so I did a quick google and added the weights together, it totals up to roughly 5.3kg/12lbs! A lot lighter once underwater of course, but still pretty hefty!

 
Anyway I really liked this picture. ^^ I haven't been doing as much person-in-motion photos compared to my early work, so I thought it's a nice change and addition to the series. 

Also definitely a little influenced by Toby's work since we bounce ideas and sketches back and forth a lot in the project. Check out his triptych that pairs up with mine for this week - 


Motherland Chronicles #39 - Triptych II: Waterwalker by Tobias Kwan

On the technical side -- I think I'll have to update my underwater tips post now -- I've definitely learned a couple new things doing everything on my own this time. 

Here are some things I've done differently from the first shoot:

Lens

The first time I shot underwater I used a Tokina 10-17mm on a Nikon D300. But even with the sensor's crop factor, it's equivalent to about 15-25mm on a full frame, still a really wide focal length considering my usual lens is 70-200mm. This time, as I rented my own housing, I got to use my own camera so I tried shooting with the 16-35mm and 50mm. Both worked out great, but the 16-35 probably worked the best for full body. I can definitely see 50mm being perfect for something like beauty though. 

Assistants

I felt that one assistant wasn't enough the last time, so this time round I got four! :D It may sound a little excessive (it totally did to me) but it turned out just right. I had 2 assistants help with everything that needed adjustment underwater: fabrics, dress, strobe cords, etc. And the other 2 for the strobes (one in water and one above). 

Staying in Position/Sinking

Remember how I mentioned it was difficult to sink on my own? Having weights last time was cool but it still required quite a bit of swimming as I tried to chase my angles. Apparently I found out this time, that it's actually pretty nice to have an assistant press me down into the water so I didn't have to think about pedaling while trying to work against floating at the same time. It allowed me to get ready better in the first couple seconds instead of having to make sure I was just focused on sinking properly, and when I found a spot I liked, it was a lot easier to stay in the same place for a short while with the help. 


So overall cool experience once again and it was a lot of fun! Thank you my awesome team for the hard work! And a super mega kudos to my model Jessica who was still on crutches and wearing ankle brace after breaking her foot, you're such a trooper woman!

       

Anouk van Kleef by Zhang Jingna

Thursday, November 14, 2013









Anouk van Kleef by Zhang Jingna
Fashion Gone Rogue Exclusive, Nov 2013

Photographer: Zhang Jingna
Stylist: Michael Tucker
Hair Stylist: Shinya Nakagawa
Makeup Artist: Fumiaki Nakagawa
Model: Anouk van Kleef @ Muse
Manicure: Casandra Lamar
Photo Assistants: Deborah Baik, Tiffany Liu, Morgan LaForge


New editorial for Fashion Gone Rogue!

Can't quite believe how I've never done something quite so clean and straightforward these past years. o_o
       

Exhibition: Marc by Marc Jacobs & Vulture Magazine - Obsessions: New Generation

Saturday, November 9, 2013



With the support of Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vulture Magazine, I had the honor of exhibiting some of my Motherland Chronicles pieces last month in Singapore.

The show was held in conjunction with the celebration of Marc by Marc Jacobs' new store opening at ION Orchard and Vulture Magazine's one year anniversary, and took place at gallery space 72-13.

Thank you Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vulture for having me, everything looked so amazing, I wish I could have been there to experience it in person. 

From left: Celosia, Winterland Fairytales II, Self Portrait in Water
From left: Ascend, Book of Roses, In the Secret Garden

Looking at these make me anticipate the day I can hold another solo exhibition again. There are only 12 weeks left in the first part of Motherland Chronicles now, I can't wait to see the series in print and share the book with you all once it's done. ❤


Follow Motherland Chronicles:

Homepage: motherlandchronicles.com
Tumblr: motherlandbooks.tumblr.com
Facebook: facebook.com/motherlandbooks
Twitter: twitter.com/motherlandbooks
Instagram: instagram.com/motherlandbooks

Photos by Ren Rong, thank you for the beautiful pictures! :3
       

Motherland Chronicles #38 - A Prayer

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #38 - A Prayer  

One for every soul lost.

Photography: Zhang Jingna

Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Tatyana Kharkova
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Linda Chow, Cong Lu

Dress: ArmStreet
Circlet & Choker: Harlequin Romantique



There is something a little more European about this image than the rest of my Motherland Chronicles pieces, I thought that was kind of nice. Then I realized that the pale hair and lashes reminded me of Ayami Kojima's work a little, which I thought hey, was pretty cool too, didn't see that when I was shooting. 

On set I had one of my favorite artists Lucong hang out and assist which was super sweet and kinda made me nervous, because omg someone I admire is watching my ghetto set where I take 10294828 hours just to get one picture. But, it turned out to be a really pleasant experience and we chatted about ways we work, old forum days and all that. :D

Super backlogged with posts and stuff but working on it! Excited about BlizzCon tomorrow!
       

Motherland Chronicles #37 - Masked

Friday, November 1, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #37 - Masked

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Viktorija Bowers
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Ernie Chang, Tiffany Liu

Mask by Casin dei Nobili

I was working on a behind-the-scenes post for this, then it kind of turned into a thorough entry on how to conceptualize a photoshoot @_@ Almost done with it now~ Hopefully posting next week! :D

Gonna be in LA for the next 2 weeks through BlizzCon!
       

Photo Vogue, Photofocus, and SLR Lounge Features

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hello, here are some recent press stuff! :D

One of my images from "Flowers in December" selected for Photo Vogue's frontpage Picture of the Day:

Flowers in December VI
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Motherland Chronicles featured on SLR Lounge:

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And lastly, featured as Photographer of the Week on Photofocus!



In other news, I did another underwater photoshoot!
       

Motherland Chronicles #36 - Germaine

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #36 - Germaine

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Junya Nakashima 
Makeup: Tatyana Kharkova
Model: Germaine Persinger
Assistants: Tiffany Liu, Melissa Castor, Evenlyn Liu

Dress: Leonid Gurevich
Necklaces: Harlequin Romantique
My smoke binge continues. :D
       

Motherland Chronicles #35 - Kalli

Monday, October 28, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #35 - Kalli

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Kelsey Petersen
Makeup: Lindsey Rivera
Model: Kalli Keith
Photo Assistants: Andre Wijono, Tobias Kwan, Michelle Herbert
Dress: Michelle Hebert



My mini obsession with braids and smoke go on. Also branches, Toby uses them a lot in his pieces so I figured I should try to add some hints of that as well. Coyote skull from his collection.

Shot this on the same day I did "In a Secret Garden". A rarity because I don't usually do more than one concept for Motherland Chronicles photoshoots because each one takes so much time to finesse and execute. 

But because I stay in Irvine and didn't want everyone travelling from LA to only do one picture, I tried squeezing 2 that day. Super ambitious of me >_<. But I'm glad we managed to make this work as well. Thank you team! ❤
       

Savage Seamless Paper and Muslin Backdrops

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Those of you who follow me probably know that I got sponsored by Savage Universal a while ago. I've been using their backdrops for a few years now, and I figure now is a good time as any to give a little review/recap on the on this commonly overlooked element in studio photography. 

Fair warning though, not being too much of a technical person, this is going to be more of a how I use the backdrops than how smooth the paper gradients are in response to my light and stuff. :D



1. The Basics

The first backdrops I bought after moving to New York were black, white and gray. 

Regardless of brand, I think those are the best shades to have for a start as they are so versatile -- you can easily do the whole range of commercial, fashion, and moody. Adjusting the toning and lighting in post is also a lot easier with neutral shades than something that has color. 

Some examples with black and grays: 

Factice Magazine #19 cover, on Savage Fashion Gray Seamless Paper
ELLE Vietnam editorial, on Savage Black Seamless Paper
Sarah Dobson, on Savage Thunder Gray Seamless Paper

2. Monsoon Savage Collapsible Backdrop

The first great addition from to my inventory was the Savage Collapsible Backdrops.

I adore shooting portraits and beauty, and with the collapsible backdrops, I can easily accomplish the background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. 

Savage Collapsibles, canvas backdrops, seamless and paper clips
Considering how often I do self portraits, small shoots and travel, this has made my life significantly easier. The backdrops are all sized at 5x6' and can be easily clipped onto their accompanying 8' stands.

My most frequently used are the Black/White, Light/Dark Gray, and Monsoon

The Black/White and Dark/Light Gray are great for portraits and castings, and as for Monsoon, I've been using it for Motherland Chronicles quite frequently. The shade and design on it is incredibly beautiful to photograph, and adds a painterly touch to a simple image:


MLC #21 - Her Resting Place
MLC #25 - The Raven Girl
MLC #12 - Winterland Fairytales II


3. Black/White Savage Collapsible Backdrop


I probably use the Black/White Collapsible way too much, but I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life so easy. 

The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection.

Here's a direct comparison between the collapsible backdrop and regular seamless paper:

Black seamless paper vs fabric backdrop.
You can see the collapsible is almost completely black as it absorbs light from the strobe, whereas the seamless paper behind it catches and reflects a bit of light. Of course, with distance the light reflection won't be an issue (and you can even use gray or white to drop it to black) but for my little home studio this helps immensely.
 

MLC #31 - Book of Roses


4. Savage Paper Clip

The Savage Paper Clip is probably my favorite thing ever. It's a storage item that keeps your seamless rolls organized against your wall. 

For a while when I first started buying more backdrops I had difficulties storing everything behind my couch, but thanks to this, I can now keep everything in the little recess right next to my door, making it easy to access while saving space at the same time. 

Plus, I feel so neat every time I walk pass this wall in my room. :D

Seamless rolls clipped onto Savage Paper Clip


Each paper clip comes with an adhesive strip for you to stick the clip to the wall, and has slots for 6 rolls. I cut off one on the side to fit it into my a little corner so there's only 5 rolls here. 

But seriously, my favorite thing in my studio inventory.


5. Verona Hand-painted Muslin Backdrop

I also finally ventured into textured backdrops!


Muslin Backdrops: Verona and Dark Gray
After my experience with the Monsoon collapsible I'd been dying to get my hands on some full-length textured backdrops to shoot. Savage was very kind to send me the Verona and Dark Gray muslins.

Here's the Savage Verona Hand-painted Muslin used in "Ea":

MLC #33 - Ea
This is the first time I've worked with a colored backdrop in a long time too. Check out behind the scenes for the shoot here where I talk about my thought process from inspiration to final.


6. Savage Dark Gray Muslin Backdrop

Once started, it's really hard to not want textures in my backdrops for some reason. They so instantly make my pictures poetic :D 

Phuong My Fall/Winter 2013



This was shot with the Savage Dark Gray Washed Muslin Backdrop. Very subtle and adds a different type of dimension from my usual full-black backgrounds. 

I always find it incredible how a little texture goes a long way in images, whether on clothes, backdrops, image as a whole (done in post), etc... So I'm incredibly happy that I finally got to experiment with these. Thank you Savage for giving me to chance to test these out! ❤

And that's it for now, I hope this post has been helpful to who were wondering about the basics I started shooting with, as well as what I use and how these days. Pleas share if you've enjoyed it! Thank you for reading. :D


Check out more of my photography articles here, and my gear list here.

Some of the product links in this post will bring you to Amazon or my favorite camera retailer Adorama, where I'll receive a small referral fee should you decide to make a purchase. This helps with the time spent on articles and the running of this blog, so please consider supporting the website. Thank you!
       

Motherland Chronicles #34 - In the Secret Garden

Monday, October 21, 2013


Motherland Chronicles #34 - In the Secret Garden

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Kelsey Petersen
Makeup: Lindsey Rivera
Model: Kalli Keith
Photo Assistants: Andre Wijono, Tobias Kwan, Michelle Herbert
Dress: Michelle Hebert



We revamped motherlandchronicles.com! Do check it out! :D 


Shot this when I was in LA a while ago. I think the process was rather interesting, so once again I'll be sharing about the process from inspiration to final image! :D 


The start of making this shoot was rather stressful. I was in LA doing recording for the Motherland Chronicles' Kickstarter video, and Toby and I had been busy with finalizing our script the whole week, so I only got around to thinking about the shoot the day before it was happening.

At first I thought about shooting on location since I do a lot of studio work when I'm in NY. I'd looked around for potential places online and settled on one to scout, but when we got there, I found that I wasn't feeling inspired for it. So I scrapped the ideas I had in mind for the venue and began thinking about alternatives. The answer turned up with LA Flower Market. When I saw those marigolds, I was so elated I bought them all. :D

The rest of the day was spent planning out details about the concept like hair, makeup, etc. I'd already confirmed Kalli as my model and Michelle to provide her dress, so it was mostly a matter of how to style and fit the elements together. 


Hair:

My love for braids kind of exploded after I got my own hair done at Pennsic War a while ago:



So I kind of built upon that along with what we did for Ea, and came up with the hair in this shoot:



Temple Jewelry:

Also something that came from my time at Pennsic. Because Motherland Chronicles is inspired by the idea of Russia, I took a class at Pennsic about Russian fashion from the 10-13th century which was very interesting. One of the things that I really liked was the temple jewelry/kolts.

From Ancient jewelry headwear of Russian women on viola.bz
It's usually worn with or as part of a headdress, but with how detailed the hair was already, I didn't want to over-clutter or cover up the braids, so I pinned them individually into Kalli's hair instead.


Makeup:

Rather straightforward, the few times Lindsey has worked with me in LA has her set for exactly how I liked that painterly, rosy-cheeked, pre-raphaelite-looking girl. We referenced back to what she did for Porcelain: 



This remains one of my favorite pictures. ❤


The set:
 
I finalized the idea and built it in the morning of the shoot with Toby's help and Michelle and the rest assisting. When the it was completed, it felt as magical on set as it does in the photograph. It was beautiful. 


The smoke was the final touch needed to complete the image -- the element that made the scene magical. I worried for some time about how to properly execute the effect without a fog machine on hand, but thanks to Andre and some dry ice, we managed to make it happen. 

I'm somewhat inspired to do a series with this if time permits, but finding the perfect looks that would match from flowers to dress will be more difficult. We'll see how that goes. :D 

Overall it was a really fun shoot and the whole team worked very hard, so thank you everyone who helped out that day. ❤ 


To end it off, here's Toby's accompanying illustration from the same week: 


Motherland Chronicles #34 - Flowers by Tobias Kwan

Beautiful isn't it? I hope you enjoyed the post and thank you for reading. :D