Elle Vietnam: Elle Best Looks

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~ ♥

Motherland Chronicles #46 - The Seer

Motherland Chronicles #46 - The Seer

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Alyssa Lorraine
Model: Joanna Bajena
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Alyssa Yee, Haiyin Lin
Accessories: Harlequin Romantique

So I can't remember the exact beginning now, but sometime last year I saved a few pieces of work by Georges de La Tour onto my computer. They sat innocuously on my harddrive, idling for a long time. Until one day, I came upon the images again, and suddenly was all like, candlelight is so cool! Who did this? I want to try this! And so I went looking for more of his paintings.

The Dream of St Joseph
Christ in the Carpenters Shop - detail
The Penitent Magdalen

Sadly, planning the shoot wasn't as easy as when inspiration struck. We spent a couple weeks researching and sourcing for chambersticks I liked and ended up buying a handful -- from thrift stores, etsy, and one even came from Turkey. But lighting was a little tricky. After numerous tests and false starts I was worried that it was simply not going to work -- I didn't have anything that felt right to shoot with. The concept took a backseat after a while.

And then I scheduled a shoot with Joanna.

I didn't plan on shooting this concept at all initially (I had something else in mind entirely), but once we were done with the hair, makeup and styling, I knew I wanted to try. I took out the candles and candlesticks and started testing to see which ones worked best. The team probably thought I was just trying out the idea, which I often do on set for Motherland, but will then discard and go back to my original concept. When I carried on with this and eventually said, "Ok, we're done." I think everyone was pretty surprised haha. Yay for spontaneity on set?

A few days later, Toby and I went to check out the Vermeer exhibition at the Frick, and guess what, they totally had a de La Tour painting in permanent collection! When I saw it I was like, what, how did I not notice this the first time? I stared at it for a long while in disbelief. Because dude, this is fate. And I totally experienced a boatload of feelings here. Life was awesome.

When I finished up the picture some days later, I couldn't shake this special sense of affinity I'd come to feel for the picture because of the experience. Just ahh, life can be so interesting sometimes. 

And that's the story for this piece. :D Working on the last 2 now~~ 

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

Flowers in December

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. :(

Motherland Chronicles #42 - Tabitha

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 #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!