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.

       

ELLE Russia Beauty, September 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014




ELLE Russia, September 2014


Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Linh Nguyen @ Kate Ryan Inc
Makeup: Beau Nelson @ The Wall Group
Model: Anya Kazakova @ Wilhelmina
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Evelyn Liu, Melissa Castor


Second one's an outtake but love it so much. ♥
       

Motherland Chronicles #48 - The Keeper

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Motherland Chronicles #48 - The Keeper

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Hair: Kelsey Petersen
Makeup: Satya Linak
Model: Jessica Dru Johnson
Pyrotechnician: Sky Rockit
Production Assistant: Sophia Chang
Photo Assistants: Tobias Kwan, Xun Chi


Fire and water. ♥ Shot at Salton Sea on the same day as From the Ashes.

Some behind-the-scenes. Photos by Tobias Kwan and Xun Chi. 






       

Profoto Blog Series: Personal Project Walkthrough, from Idea to Realization

Monday, July 28, 2014

My second article for Profoto~

Motherland Chronicles #50 – Eurydice

Having covered the process for a commercial assignment in my last article, this time round I’ll be talking about my approach to producing a personal shoot in a similar fashion, but starting earlier in the workflow, from conceptualization instead of simply receiving a brief, as one would a commercial job.

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I see commercial and editorial work as a resume of a photographer’s skills and personal work as the mark of his or her identity. With this in mind, I think a photographer’s approach towards commercial and personal work should be separated as much as possible.

Of course, things like style and aesthetics will naturally bleed into one another, which is fine, but concept wise, a commercial work should always be done with a client’s products or services in mind, whereas personal work should be something a person wants to express or share with the world, thus making it personal.

In this post I’ll be covering the approach and considerations I put towards a typical production for one of my personal shoots. Unlike commercial projects, there are no set rules and requirements for how you do it. We may all work differently and this is my take. I hope you enjoy the read.


Motherland Chronicles #43 – Dreaming

1. Before You Begin

In most cases, we don’t have endless budgets to do whatever we want to do or an avenue of publication for personal work before it begins. Because of this, a lot of doing personal work boils down to challenges in getting people to work with you and finding time outside your main job to make it happen. Here are some key factors to consider in setting up the foundation of your series:

    1.    Theme and Concept
    2.    Your Team
    3.    Model Release
    4.    Model Search
    5.    Lighting and Style
    6.    Timeline
    7.    Budget
    8.    Image Terms


1.1 Theme and Concept


This is the starting point, whether it’s a broad theme or specific idea, it expresses what you want to say. It’s the reason you’re doing the project. Having decided on this, it will determine how you’ll approach your entire series in terms of style and affect how your production will be done and what will be involved.

Here are some of the images that inspired me for Motherland Chronicles:
                     
Top: Antoon van Welie, Suemi Jun; Bottom: George Frederic Watts, Yoshitaka Amano


       

New Website!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Quick update to let you guys know I have a new website!! Now with larger photos and more recent work! Check it out and let me know what you think~ :D http://zhangjingna.com
       

Profoto Blog Series: How to Produce a Commercial Photoshoot, from Request to Post-Production

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A while ago, I began writing a series of articles for the Profoto Blog. And because they're super duper nice people, I got permission to repost it on my own page. :D

Here is the first post in case you missed it, I would love to hear what you guys think. Or if you have any questions or a topic you would like to see me cover, do let me know! Thank you for reading~


One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is how a commercial photo shoot is done. In this post I’ll be doing a little walk-through of the steps involved in one of my typical productions, from pre-shoot to final product. Whether you’re an upcoming photographer or just a hobbyist, I hope it sheds some light on the behind-the-scenes and you will find it an interesting read.

Before I start, I should also mention that typically for major clients, there is usually a large team of people working on a campaign. In those instances an executive producer will handle everything related to preparing the shoot, and thus often, all that’s needed of the photographer is to prepare his treatment (more on that in a bit), show up, and shoot.

However, for many other jobs, it’s becoming increasingly popular these days for the photographer to quote and execute the full-scale production of the photoshoot themselves. This post will cover a project’s process on this scale.

       

Motherland Chronicles #47 - Womb

Thursday, May 29, 2014



Motherland Chronicles #47 - Womb

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Gregg Brockington
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Bitna Kim, Tiffany Liu


From the same shoot as Rusalka. This one made me think of the Legend of Nüwa. The flowers reminded me of the five-colored stones she used to repair the heavens. Chinese mythos :D
       

Photo Professional Magazine April 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014


Happy to share that I'm on this month's cover of Photo Professional Magazine in the UK!

The inside article introduced the Motherland Chronicles and we talked a bit about my perspective on commercial vs personal work.

Interesting enough, the title "One Step at a Time" echoes a saying I love from the game of Go. Whenever I feel daunted by the million and one things I know I need to do ahead of me, I think of what one of my best friends and teachers used to say to me, "Go has to be played one step at a time". Obvious but so totally personally meaningful. :D (Also, didn't someone say to Hikaru in Hikaru no Go that "Akira is where he is today by playing one game at a time"?)

Thank you Terry for the lovely writeup!





       

Elle Vietnam: Elle Best Looks

Monday, April 21, 2014
















Elle Best Looks
Elle Vietnam, May 2014

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Stylist: Phuong My
Editor: Quy Nguyen
Hair: Cash Lawless @ The Magnet Agency
Makeup: Deanna Melluso @ The Magnet Agency
Set Designer: Francesca Signori
Manicurist: Gerry Holford @ Artmix Beauty
Model: Isabelle Nicolay @ Supreme
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Julia Gorbach, Demi Chen
Stylist Assistant: Kade Henderson


New editorial for Spring/Summer! :D 

We wanted to echo the theme of each brand's runway from the season for this story. Floor and props were prepared during the days leading up to the shoot then assembled together on the day itself. All done in my apartment! Thank you team for the awesome job and being patient, and Isabelle for being so beautiful~