Motherland Chronicles #44 - Germaine II

Monday, February 24, 2014

Motherland Chronicles #44 - Germaine II

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
Shot with Profoto's new Umbrella Deep XL White~ Check out the post feature here. :D

Portrait Photography Cover & Interview, Feb 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chinese interview! My first in a long long time. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had to do it in English because my command of Chinese is so atrocious. :( So thank you Demi for all the translation work! 

It's an introductory sort of interview about the way I work and stuff. Uploaded the text pages in hi-res for those who understand Chinese. Below, I also have my almost-original interview answers to some of the questions, edited because I wrote most of it in broken English to make it easy for translation. If it sounds cold/weird it's only because I meant to add personal touches in Chinese. :D 

Can you tell us more about you? How did you start photography?

I was born in Beijing and moved to Singapore when I was 8. I was an air rifle shooter for 6 years in the national team growing up there. I'm based in New York now.

I started photography during foundation year of art school. We had a small photo project in our visual studies class, and from there I toyed with the idea of experimenting with photography. I started shooting fashion-focused images when I went into Fashion Design for my major.

What do you think about fashion photography? Are you a fashion person?

I've always liked art. I think of fashion photography as a medium where I could in my own way create a beautiful picture, I like the idea of being able to do that. I'm not very obsessed about fashion or trends, but I greatly admire the artistic value, aesthetics and innovation of great designers. 

How would you describe or define your work?

The foundation of my work is beauty. Built upon it are hints of fantasy and romanticism followed by a painterly touch.

Does your personal shooting style change with time?

Certainly, I'm inspired by different things at different periods of my life. Change is constant, I don't try to fight it.

How did you find your style as a photographer?  

Like anyone else I suppose, my style comes from simply shooting a lot and doing what I think will make a good image, the taste of which I guess comes from my preference in art and who I am as a person.

What is the most important elements in your photography? Composition, space, time, light, feeling or emotion?

It's a combination, with feeling and composition at the foremost of it. Feeling comes from the experimentation of lighting most of the time, and composition wise I usually sketch out what I have in mind beforehand.

What kind of light do you prefer? Do you use strobes or mainly natural light? If it's mostly natural light, how do you find such a great lighting conditions?

I do a lot of studio work with strobes, but when on location it's mostly just natural light. I like both.

How do you pick models and make decision of their styling and makeup? Do you communicate with your model often and how?

If it's fashion or commercial work, I discuss picking the model with the stylist, editor or art director. Clothes and makeup are usually decided by the magazines for editorial work, while commercials would be a team effort in decision-making with the client's input.

For personal shoots it's all up to me. I pretty much get to pick whoever and whatever I like for model, styling and makeup direction, though of course sometimes my team contributes with suggestions or ideas for their specialization.

Communication wise, I'll let the model get familiar with my work and show them photos with mood of what I'm shooting, then direct them accordingly.

Who are your favorite photographers or artist? Is there any influence?

I love so many painters and illustrators, but John William Waterhouse and Yoshitaka Amano were my first influences. I'm also very much affected by friends who are illustrators and concept artists for movies, books and games. Paintings are generally more interesting to me since I can't draw.

How do you prepare for a photoshoot? What happens during the session?

I usually start with an idea or concept and go from there. Once I've decided on something, everything else is a reaction towards making that vision a reality. The right model, clothes, and hair and makeup all come from having the concrete idea first. On the day of the shoot the team will be prepared and know what we are going to do based on references I've already sent, so I just let everyone do their job. I'll check on hair and makeup from time to time to make sure the looks are what I want since everyone's interpretation of an idea can be different. And then we shoot.

Do you work alone or with a large team? Could you please do a brief explanation?

I work with a moderately small team for personal work, usually hair stylist, makeup artist, model, and 2-3 assistants. But there are definitely times where it's just me and the model, where I'll do her makeup and hair then we just shoot.

Fashion and commercial shoots will be bigger, there is usually a stylist and their assistants, hair stylist, makeup artist, manicurist, and sometimes the hair/makeup artists' assistants as well. Depending on the scale of the shoot, there may also set designers, editors, art directors, creative directors, etc.

You have cooperated with a lot of fashion magazines and some big brands. Which experience impressed you most?

Harper's Bazaar Singapore was the first major fashion magazine I shot with. My beauty editor Alli Sim had an incredible eye for style and details, I learnt to be very meticulous with hair, makeup, nails, clothes and accessories from shooting with her. Those are definitely some of the most memorable experiences for me.

What do you like to do in you spare time?

I like reading and video games, I guess travelling too, but it's more like a way of life. I love ancient cities and old towns.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself something that would have made the start of your career as a photographer easier, what would it be?

Nothing, my motto is to never regret. Whatever was difficult, I would have had to experience it to become the person I am today.


And that's pretty much it~ I've answered some of these questions in the past before, but I feel like it's been a couple of years and the way I work has definitely changed, I used to just wing it for so many things. Hope you enjoyed the read!

Motherland Chronicles #43 - Dreaming

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Motherland Chronicles #43 - Dreaming

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
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

More underwater. Read behind-the-scenes and things I learned from from this shoot here.

Flowers in December

Friday, February 7, 2014

Flowers in December
Phuong My FW13/14 Collection

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Styling: Phuong My
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Viktorija Bowers
Model: Kwak Ji Young @ Wilhelmina
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Ernie Chang
Backdrop: Savage Universal

When I was writing my 2013 wrap-up post I realized that I never got around to posting a lot of the editorials I did last year. Figured I should at least put up my favourite one, sigh I am so bad at blogging. :(

2013 Wrap-up

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A little belated but here is my 2013 wrap-up post!

It was an interesting year.

There wasn't anything earth-shattering in terms of academic or commercial success, but starting Motherland Chronicles and the journey it brought me on had definitely affected me in a big way. That, and moving to New York.

So usually, I do a retrospective of some sort here, but with the book for Motherland Chronicles still underway, I can't bring myself to write about the experiences in all that incompleteness. Instead, I'm going to do a recap on the other major events that happened besides Motherland Chronicles! And thank my teams and you guys profusely for being supportive and awesome.

Top 8 things that mattered:

1) Started reading because of subways and second-hand books. Discovered Lymond Chronicles and to my surprise, improved my English.

2) Exhibited in Milan with Photo Vogue photographers, curated by Vogue Italia. Found out my alcohol allergy had worsened by fainting at the opening. Glorious.

"A Glimpse at Photo Vogue" by Vogue Italia

3) In memory of a friend, I created the first piece of personal work for someone else for the first time. It's been ten years.

Motherland Chronicles #21 - Her Resting Place

4) Had many firsts for photography — cosplay, fire, underwater. It was all very new and exciting.

Reunited with Alodia to shoot my first cosplay picture: Motherland Chronicles #30 - Untitled Amano Girl
Motherland Chronicles #23 - Dive (behind the scenes)

5) Disbanded Infinity Seven, and wrote about my time in SC2. Read my superbly angsty blog post over on TeamLiquid.

Infinity Seven, Anaheim, 2013

6) Exhibited with Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vulture Magazine in Singapore. One of the most beautiful installations of my work, wish I could have been there.

7) Featured on Kotaku, a place I looked at often throughout the years, it meant a lot to me.

Kotaku: Where Fashion Meets Japanese Fantasy and StarCraft II

8) Finally saw Gundam Unicorn. I loved it so much that I rewatched the show four times. Gundam has always inspired feelings about humanity and strength in me. Things like: you have to find the strength within yourself. Believe! And even if it hurts, keep on saying even so, even so, and go on! So, yeah. Feelings.

Aside from the above, some other highlights include signing my first apartment lease, winning Beauty/Glamour Photographer of the Year at [FRAMED] Awards and meeting up with e-pals Kirsty Mitchell and Von Wong in Las Vegas.

I was fortunate to landed a number of covers, thanks to my great teams for their wonderful work and the editors for putting us up there, notably Elle Vietnam's June and September beauty issue, Factice Magazine #19, and British Journal of Photography's September issue.

Thank you Savage Universal for the sponsorship, who gave me a lot of options to play around with for my studio work. And Casin dei Nobili, Harlequin Romantique and Xiaolin for contributing some incredibly beautiful hand-crafted masks, jewelry, and clothing for Motherland Chronicles. 

And the wonderful guys at ArmStreet for hosting me at Pennsic War 42 in Pittsburgh, which was my first camping experience ever. I tried on some armour, wore a dress for 2 days (!!), braided my hair, took classes on 10-13th century Russian fashion, and watched a medieval battle. I've never experienced anything else like it. It was awesome.

Of course, I would also randomly discovered that I've had lifetime of anime/manga hair in the mean time.

In September I met up with Sugizo in LA! I can't wait for my new book to be ready so I can gift it in return when he gives me Luna Sea goodies.

At the end of the year I went to Cancun with mum, sis and relatives. It was the first time I'd been with my mum and sis together overseas, so it was very unexpected, new, and exciting.

And that's really it for the year! To wrap it up, here's an Instagram video recap. I want to say thank you all for the support, especially for Motherland Chronicles. I can't wait for the project to be ready for Kickstarter, and for you guys to finally have the book. Thank you so much for following my journey so far, I hope 2014 will be even more exciting and inspiring.


Motherland Chronicles #40-41 - From the Ashes

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Motherland Chronicles #40, #41 - From the Ashes

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 

Dress: Michelle Hebert
Choker: Harlequin Romantique

Last year I was on set shooting the campaign for a fragrance ad where we set a car on fire. Ever since then, I'd been itching to play with fire again, because who doesn't wanna play with some for their photography?

When I was back in Irvine in November I decided to do something about it, so together with the team we drove to Salton Sea. Mostly because I wanted an unlimited open space to work where no one will disturb us regardless of what we did, but also because I wanted fire on water (or is it water on fire?). I'm so close to actually trying this underwater, I think I may just try figure that out for next time. This was a really fun experience. :D

In other news, I'm months behind schedule for blog posts so I'll just be updating photos for now. I'll work backwards in adding behind the scenes after the project is done, if time permits. Only 4 more pieces left and it's a wrap! Can't wait for the book~

Happy new year everyone! ♥