Motherland Chronicles #45 - Rusalka

Uncensored image can be viewed on my Tumblr.

Motherland Chronicles #45 - Rusalka

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Gregg Brockington
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Bitna Kim, Tiffany Liu
Necklace & Body Chain: Harlequin Romantique

At the beginning of last year I did a self portrait in water. Motherland Chronicles had just started and the only model I had was myself, sometimes I just edited old photos for weeks I didn't shoot self portraits. I've been meaning to reuse the kiddy pool and shoot a model in it ever since then, but at the same time, I'd been circumspect about doing it because the water gets very cold, first hand experience and all that.

Eventually though, I was just like, omg screw this I want to shoot in water again! And so I made as much preparations as I could, and did all the things I didn't do the first time -- lined the floor with carpet, tarp and blankets, turned up the heater, and hoped for the best. And with more assistants, we were also able to constantly add hot water to the pool and that definitely helped with the water temperature. So thank you my lovely team for the great effort in keep Germaine warm.

Besides water, the other key element here are the flowers. There's not much to say about it other than I just arrange them however I think will look good for the shot depending on the model's pose. But I do however want to share a random interesting thought that occurred to me the other day. :D

So pretty much every time I decide to use flowers in a shoot, I buy them from the deli/florist down the street on the day itself. And since the choices are based on the season and what they stock at the shop on that very day, it means the store's inventory kind of influences and decides how and what I'm shooting each time. Take a moment to absorb the significance of that.

It basically goes like, here is a complete stranger deciding on what flowers to sell at his stands on any given day, because he thinks they will sell, I go there, make an arbitrary selection, bring them home, shoot something that's kind of important to me, post it on the internets. That person literally set the direction for a part of my life for a day, and affects what you see in the end artwork. Isn't that kind of awesome and mind-boggling? Just a little bit?

So anyway, random thought is random! But it makes me really thankful for these guys selling flowers, cuz if not for them many of the pieces for Motherland Chronicles wouldn't have happened at all. Thank you deli market strangers, you're awesome.

And that's that! A really super random anecdote from doing the series and shooting at home. Hope everyone's having a great week so far~ 8D

Motherland Chronicles #44 - Germaine II

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

Motherland Chronicles #38 - A Prayer

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 #33 - Ascend

Motherland Chronicles #33 - Ascend

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Video: Underwater Assistance: Brenda Stumpf
Model: Jessica Dru Johnson
Makeup: Jenn Nelson
Photo Assistant: Matt Cadwallader
Special thanks to Brian Sousa for the pool

Check out behind-the-scenes post here and video here! Gonna do a little post on underwater photography later! :D

Motherland Chronicles #32 - Ea

Motherland Chronicles #32 - Ea

Ea means fire. Inspired by Suemi Jun's paintings. ♥  

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

Headpiece: Harlequin Romantique

Backdrop: Savage Verona Hand Painted Muslin

Not often do I get to pinpoint specific inspirations for a piece of work. But I think this one is a little more deliberate than usual and is a rather good example. In this post I'll go over my process from inspiration to final image.

A little while ago, as I was musing about the lack of high fantasy anime/manga works in recent years, I started looking through Suemi Jun's works again.

Being one of my favorite Japanese artists besides Yoshitaka Amano, I thought, since I'm doing all these Amano-inspired pieces, why not explore something from other artists I love too? (Or in which I couldn't get Suemi Jun's works out of my mind for a couple of weeks.)

I first saw Suemi Jun's artbooks Gen and Haku at Kinokuniya in Singapore some 10-11 years ago. I fell in love with these covers:

They're so beautiful aren't they? ;_;

And thanks to the wonders of internet, I found this amazing collection of scans from Gen, making me wish I had brought the books with me to NY instead of leaving them back in Singapore.

So works re-discovered, I started thinking about how to put a shoot together.

I spent a few days looking at his paintings and then stopped completely, to think up the concept based on impressions his work left in my mind. Based around that, I gave directions to my hair and makeup team on the look to create. 

Then came the clothing and accessories. Fortunately, I'd already had them loaned to me so I didn't have to go searching. All that was left was just getting smoke and a backdrop for the mood I wanted for the picture.

For smoke I rented a fog machine. With it, I could achieve what Jun sometimes does in his paintings, where the edges of his characters' clothes and hair faded off to the background in loose strokes, as if there was fog or fire.

To compliment and complete that effect, I used the Savage Verona muslin backdrop to recreate the rich browns and reds Jun often uses in his backgrounds.

Featuring the Savage Verona Muslin backdrop

At this, I know some of you probably think the smoke and backdrops are unnecessary details. I get that. I know there's a lot that can be done in Photoshop, but I really like being able to direct each element in a shoot. It makes me feel as if I'm creating fantasy in real life. That authenticity and experience is something I don't quite want to lose to digital manipulations, and is an aspect of photography that I deeply enjoy.

But because of that we ended up spending the whole afternoon on just the one shot in order for me to get the smoke, wind and hair placements just right. T_T;;

And even though I shot it warmly, I couldn't resist going with my usual greenish tones during processing at first. I did go back to reds and browns for tones eventually though. 

Work-in-process thumbnails:

This is probably my new personal high for the number of states a photo has gone through before reaching the end result. Just look at how many times I fooled myself into thinking that it was the 'final' (starting at end of first row), so sad. T_T;;;

But still, I know all the minute changes were necessary and paid off, just hope that it won't be like this every week because sleep is sometimes really good to have too. .___.

Motherland Chronicles #30 - Untitled Amano Girl

Motherland Chronicles #30 - Untitled Amano Girl

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Model/Hair/Makeup: Alodia Gosiengfiao
Photo Assistants: Julia Wang, JoEllen Elam
Studio: Pillar Box Studios

Photo © Zhang Jingna
Character © Yoshitaka Amano

My first cosplay picture! Thank you Alodia for aiding my inner fangirl in making this possible! :D

In the beginning we were only talking about making one Motherland Chronicles picture (week 24),  we both got to L.A. for Anime Expo. But after hearing that she too had just visited Yoshitaka Amano's studio, I couldn't resist asking if she would be open to cosplaying one of his characters. And she said yes! 

So despite deadline and time-constraint Alodia managed to put the costume together and I was so excited you have no idea. I was almost a fangirl on set because it was just so exciting to see one of Amano's character come to life, and Alodia was so perfect for it too, I so want to do more cosplay shoots now~!

Special commendation for my assistant Julia that day, who did like, 4 hours of driving because I stayed in Irvine and her LA. So thank you and ♥ x100000!

Motherland Chronicles #21 - Her Resting Place

"Here is my love.
Here is the sound of my heart.
Surely you will understand."
- Heart of Thomas

Motherland Chronicles #21 - Her Resting Place

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Gregg Brockington
Model: Julia Gorbach
Photo Assistant: Ngoc Vu
Backdrop from Savage Paper

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In memory of L.