New Project: Motherland Chronicles

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I'm gonna be embarking on a new project with Tobias Kwan aka tobiee.

Taken from the popular 'A Photo a Day', we're gonna do a picture a week! :D (We'd totally fail a picture a day, no question about that lol.)


1) No Boring™

2) Anything goes -- there is no subject/theme restrictions unless predetermined for a particular week.

3) Finishing work-in-progress images started prior to each week's submission is allowed.

4) A week starts Tuesday and images are due Monday 11:59pm PST.


1) Become an awesomer™ artist

2) Possibility of publishing an artbook!

The main purpose of this is to finish something weekly, something we're both terrible terrible at. For me it's also going to be grounds for experimentation, so brace yourselves for the potentially random and wacky. :D

The journey begins next week Jan 28th, follow us! We'll be posting behind the scenes and work in progress on the MLC FB and Twitter!

Motherland Chronicles



PS: Please keep voting for me in [FRAMED] Awards? Voting ends Feb 8th, you can find my name "Zhang Jingna" under Fashion and Beauty:

Photography for Asia's Next Top Model

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

YouTube HD video for Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 1 Episode 6 is up!

It was a beauty challenge for TRESemmé and I'm really honored to have been invited to photograph the episode. 

You can check out the video here:

My favorite part was with Helena around 27min40sec, it's pretty funny. :D

Some of the photos:

Sofia Wakabayashi, Photo of the Week!
Melissa Th'ng Mei Ling
Stephanie Retuya

I've been keeping busy since moving to New York. Besides finding an apartment and getting 99 used Hermann Hesse books from Amazon, I've also got a new project planned, to be announce soon. It's going to be something personal and fun and I'm super excited to start shooting. :D

I'm also going to backtrack a little and post some behind-the-scenes from last year! So if there's a particular shoot you'd like to see, leave a comment to let me know and I'll try to find something.

PS: I'm a finalist in the Fashion and Beauty categories for [FRAMED] Awards! You can vote for me daily until Feb 8th

Two Types of Dreams

Friday, January 11, 2013

Over the New Year I was writing a introspection but somehow ended up with this. And I guess in essence it sums up what the post would have been about anyway.

I think we all have two types of dreams—the type that starts out when we were young and naive, and were filled with ideals and fantasies; and the type that is a secondary one, layered over the first—a goal or milestone, something realistic, where the world and its harsh realities have taught us boundaries, limits and inhibitions.

I want to learn and change and evolve, and I don't want to lose sight of my first dream and who I set out to be.

But over time, as my second dream grew and grew, I found my first dream diminishing, it had become a nearly transparent thing. How sad would it be to lose the reasons that made me chose my path in the first place? It's such a terrible, miserable thought. In trying to find the child-me that used to daydream and was filled with boundless fearlessness, I decided to start reading fairytales and mangas again, things that inspired me as a kid.

Don't forget that first dream you used to have, don't forget the beauty of that unrealistic and naive ideal. It's fragile and whimsical, something precious, a part of what made us who we are today. Don't let it go.

Inspirational Reads 2012

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

When I'm interviewed and asked what inspires me, I usually simply say "travelling", or "art". It's hard to name specific works by someone that's not mainstream for it to mean anything to anyone, so I usually don't.

But if you'd ever been curious, here's a closer look -- a list of books comprising mainly of mangas, and then some novels, artbooks and photobooks that have been inspirational for me in 2012.

Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai nara by Fujiwara Kaoru

I'm starting off with this manga because the last shoot I did in 2012 was inspired by the art in this series. 

Vampires! I like vampire stories. But I would love this story even if there weren't any vampires at all.

When I first read this many years ago, despite how I loved it, I was left confused by the ending. After a long series of readings, from Hagio Moto's The Heart of Thomas, to her interview mentioning Hermann Hesse's works, to reading Hesse's Demian, and then to finally end up somewhere with the demiurge, I finally realized that the child who created Kanna and Ren's imperfect destinies in this was actually an echo of the Demiurge creating an imperfect world. And suddenly everything clicked into place, it was like a mini epiphany of sort and left me in wonder. That echo, whether intentional or not, to have my readings come a full circle to explain an earlier unknown made it feel so... fateful. And for that reason alone this story is special to me. 

But well, I also love angsty, helpless, predestined sad stories.

My favourite thing though, is Fujiwara Kaoru's artwork, I love her style so so very intensely. I've yet to finish processing the shoot inspired by her work, but I'm really excited about them so keep an eye out for when I get around to posting the photos, I hope you guys will like it. :D

She also has an artbook titled "Tomei na iro shita Shojo no Tame ni" but I can't seem to find a link of it online.

Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura
Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura

One of my all time favourite artists. Intense fight scenes, kickass characters of both sexes, totally badass weapons, and... clear depiction of people losing their body parts.

I get such conflicting feelings reading his work because it's so gory and messed up and... wrong... but beautiful at the same time.

If you've no time for manga, there's this: The Art of Blade of the Immortal.

I really want to do a BotI shoot, something I'll perhaps attempt in 2013 if I can find the cosplayers. 

Warnings: Violence/gore/nudity

Warnings #2: If you decide to check out more of Samura's work, just a fair warning, he has some really really really messed up stuff (adult/torture/gore I can't even adequately express in words). Keep out of reach of children.

Genshin - Toshiaki Kato

Toshiaki Kato is so obscure I couldn't find a proper cover pic of Genshin on Amazon Japan. -_-

His work is kinda like an art nouveau version of Ayami Kojima's, I'm also often reminded of Suemi Jun (for the angels), Yoshitaka Amano and Gustav Klimt (I mean, gold, hello).

But it could just be because I like seeing artists I like in every other artist's work that I also like? Wish I could get my hands on more of his books, but alas there aren't many.

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Kind of a really intense, fast-paced, focused, and homosexual version of Game of Thrones. (I might just be biased because GoT doesn't seem to know where it's going.)

A lot of plotting and tension and stunning characterizations which I'm super in love with. Reading Captive Prince makes me wish I could write.

Can't wait for the final book vol3 to be out soon.

Warnings: Violence/adult situations, read at your own peril for there be some boy on boy loving.

The Seventh Swan by Jaida Jones

No photo preview! So make do with my mug cover placeholder.  

It's a fairytale inspired by a bunch of fairytales. Starts off a little slow methinks, but builds up quickly, the rest reads like a dream.

Summary in author's words:

Based on a whole lot of fairy tales (including The Tinder Box and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, as well as the tale from which the title is taken). A tale of two brothers trying to fix a curse.

The Fairytales of Hermann Hesse
The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

I saw this at one of Yale's bookstores when I was just getting into Hesse's works. At that time I had just read Demian and Siddhartha, and was attempting The Glass Bead Game.

This collection is a pleasant surprise for me, for that was a time when I have not read any fairytales in a while, and it made me curious what sort of stories someone like Hesse would spin. The stories gave me a lot of visuals and once in a while I find myself re-reading the book for inspirations.

Hikaru no Go
Hikaru No Go by Hotta Yumi / Obata Takeshi

Inspirational no matter how many times I re-read it, always!

Maybe because the path to becoming the best is something we can all relate to as we work hard in whatever we choose to do, love and are passionate about.

Alongside with Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai nara, Hikaru no Go is one of those mangas I find myself re-reading every year. You can also watch the anime for free on Hulu if you're in the US.

Claymore by Yagi Norihiro

I saw the anime a few years ago, liked it, but put off attempting the manga because I really hate series that take forever to update. For some reason I finally caved in 2012 and checked it out, love it is all I can say really I guess.

Pretty lady monsters everywhere fought by badass pretty ladies, can't complain.

Warnings: Violence/gore/nudity

Liar Game by Kaitani Shinobu

Psychological, kinda like Death Note in some ways except Akiyama is always winning, but that's ok cuz he's hot badass.

Noblesse by Son Jae Ho / Lee Gwang Su

Vampires! Action! Pretty art!

I'm only bothered by how I keep thinking Rai is the main character but more often than not it feels like the focus is on Frankenstein. Not that I'm complaining because Franken's awesome anyway. Just feels like Rai should play a more active role. 

But regardless! Pretty boys, fantasy, action and sci-fi, all my favourite things rolled into one, I approve.

Also Tao reminds me of tobiee.

The Breaker series (Part I, Part II) by Jeon Geuk-jin / Park Jin-hwan

Action! Again! I don't know why but I just really like action stories in all sorts of mediums. I swear I'm not a violent person. ._.

This story is a bit interesting (almost amusing?) to me cuz it totally adopts Chinese wuxia stuff from Jin Yong into the modern world and it works.

Warning: Violence

Vinland Saga
Vinland Saga by Yukimura Makoto

Vikings! A little Berserk-ish but the story kinda spiraled out weirdly. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet cuz it hasn't been that many volumes, but, warriors! Fighting! I also really like the chapter cover arts, quite a number have gone into my inspirations folder. 

Warning: Violence

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

It's McQueen. Everyone buy a copy, go.

Miles Aldridge: Acid Candy

One of the things I don't do much is talk about my favourite photographers or films. Because try as I may, paintings and drawings just inspire me much more than photographs and movies can and I really don't know why.

But the colours and fantasy in Miles Aldrige's works is something I have always loved, this is one of my favourite photobooks in my collection.  Warning: Nudity

Not much photobooks at all I'm afraid. I do buy them, but impact on me in 2012 wise... not so much. Maybe there'll be more in 2013? Stay tuned for that post next year. :D

PS: For the curious, I certainly did re-read Gundam Wing's mangas lol.  

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