Sadness and Pain

My grandma passed away on Boxing Day six years ago.

No one told me the news, even though she was the only one who raised me when I was a child. The way I found out was cruel in its offhandedness, the memory loops around in my head every year when the season comes around.

It hurts, so much so that I sometimes want to claw my chest out and rip my heart to pieces so the pain can stop.

It was the last time I celebrated a Christmas or New Year.

There are blocks of days in a year that are blacked out in my mind. These are days where I know I can’t function. I can't avoid the nightmares, I still mourn.

Sometimes I wonder if it will only end when the entire year is dipped in black, because then I would have no choice but to accept those days as the new norm and live.

Maybe I hold on to too much, maybe I am not as strong as others, maybe I can never become a person who doesn’t cry on days close to the death anniversaries of people I knew and cared about. But I think that's okay. It's a part of me, and has made me into who I am today.

Festive seasons make it hard to talk about pain. If you are hurting inside, you are not alone.

2013 Wrap-up

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 #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

---

In memory of L. 

25.

This post is marginally bipolar, my emo and epic nerdy fangirling all rolled into one. You have been warned.

---

25.

Where do I even start? I am glad to be alive.

It takes a lot of courage to put certain thoughts and feelings into words, too easy to be hurt for who we are, our heart's fragility can only withstand so much when it comes to our weaknesses, I think.

And so, I hadn't known how to write this, and I still don't, not really. But last year—getting over depression—was surely the grandest achievement of me being 24 (and of course my doctor, who didn't even have to put me on antidepressants, thank you).

In many ways, I had been afraid to write about it because I didn't want to jinx my recovery, it wasn't often that I had something good like that. (Because you know, more than once, I'd thought that I was fine, just to find myself living in the very opposite of that the next months.)

It was a lot to take in, becoming… un-unhappy.

From my first memory of acute loneliness, to the first time I thought about death when I was four, a lifetime of problems to fix, all the normalcy I never knew and wondered about, that made me different, that nearly…

I hadn't known I suffered from traumatic stress, it went on for so long I'd accepted my feelings and nightmares as normalcy. So when I could see in my head, during my final session with my doctor, the foundation blocks of my life and thoughts reslotting and rearranging, completely changing, I couldn't understand how it was possible. It was overwhelming, awe-inspiring, terrifying.

It was as if I had become someone else, and held in my hands the memories of someone I might have been, trying to understand it, feeling like an outsider; as if I were separated from that person's past by a wall of glass, I could look but not reach, nor feel.

It left me lost, like I'd finally emerged from the shadows into the sun, yet all that lay around me was vast indistinct land and it didn't matter where I went. Until finally, and only because I was trying so hard to find something, anything at all, I felt the moment I left that dream place and came surface to air, and I realized with wonder, that I had healed.

If I could liken it to something, maybe, it's what a human being's metamorphosis is like.

----

That was the most important thing that happened to me at 24. But of course, my move to New York was a big deal too. And the recent news that I was selected by Vogue Italia to be part of Photo Vogue's exhibition in Milan this June makes me speechless. And I saw Gundam Unicorn!!! Finally! I haven't been able to lock away my closet nerdiness after that, because oh my god, sick cockpit design is sick. I've been daydreaming about how to spend my first billion dollars (simulation room in my house), I even re-watched the series to take screenshots just so I can write a blog post about it. NERDY.

I also just finished Lymond Chronicles' book 4, it was SO emotionally brutal I nearly had a heart attack. Phillipa, my sixteen year old heroine. SO BRAVE. HOW?! She journeyed alone to find her friend's baby son in a foreign land, surrounded by dangers and traps and possible assassinations all the bloody way, then gave up her life to the seraglio just so she could protect the child's safety after she had found him. So freaking badass and so much courage! Why aren't there more people reading this together with me so we can fangirl and fanboy together!?!!

Don't judge me on the fangirling. Because you know, the secret to great personal work is being a fangirl. Only when I feel passionate can I create works passionately! True story.

So 24 was an experience alright, here's hoping 25 will be even grander.

Thank you everyone for your encouragements and support and love, I hope I can continue to be a person you can be happy with and proud of. Happy birthday to me! :D

Jingna
May 4th, 2013

2012 Wrap-up

Yay I've finally got another year-end wrap-up!

Wow, I can't believe the last was 2009. Truthfully speaking, I wrote one for 2010, it was filled with awesomeness (including my lifetime's only fangirl moment when taken by surprise meeting Hagio Moto)—...actually, I just discovered that that post has been sitting in my drafts, with pictures and all, figured I might as well post it: 2010.

And here be the highlights of my 2012: 

January

- Shot for Clé de Peau Beauté's 30th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition
- Interviewed by National Archives of Singapore (I pray if anyone uses it for anything in the future I'd be forgiven for my atrocious Chinese)
- Zink editorial "It Blooms In The Night" published
- Wedding & Travel #22 out on stands! We shot the cover story in Fregate Island, Seychelles, I had my own villa with infinity pool and all that stuff! (This would've been in my 2011 post, but it doesn't exist so allow me to wax-lyrical a little)
- Featured on Expert Photography -- Top 20 Young Photographers 2012, though I definitely don't feel so young anymore

My photograph for Clé de Peau Beauté
Zink: It Blooms in the Night

Febuary

- Yoshitaka Amano-inspired self portraits
- Held my first workshop (sold out in 24 hours! :D)
- Fashion and beauty editorials in Elle Singapore! (Hit the Road, Touch-me Tresses)
- Elle Awards feature in Elle Singapore! (For winning Photographer of the Year in Nov 2011)

My Amano-esque self portrait series! I was so beatific when I saw those photos on my computer screen~
Demo during my first workshop!
A photo of the trophy plaque's prettier than an article right? Pretty ♥

March

- Editorial marathon in Vietnam with Phuong My -- we produced AND shot 6 stories in 7 days, including: 
- My first Harper's Bazaar cover shoot featuring Vietnamese actress Ngo Thanh Van and—
- A shoot in Cambodia! Visited Angkor Wat, it was awesome.
- Came across one of my photos of Rain for Anchor Beer in Cambodia on a billboard! Kickass feeling.
- Photos of Michelle Phan!

Michelle! Our shoot was done end Dec but then I never had my 2011 post so ._.
Angkor Wat! It was so grand.

April

- Represented in US by Kramer+Kramer in New York
- Saw L'arc~en~Ciel in Singapore, I even met my own fans (And now that I've seen Luna Sea, X Japan, Laruku, and Dir en grey, I think I'm just missing Gackt and my Live experience would be complete haha)
- Showed in Clé de Peau Beauté's "L'Art de La Radiance" Exhibition in Hong Kong

On the left is cover of the limited edition book commemorating Clé de Peau's exhibition. A very stunning volume I'm proud to be a part of.

May

- 10 years on deviantART! Check out my post on the journey.
- Featured in Her World Singapore -- "25 Scene Shakers Under 25"

Holy shit 10 years on dA. Where has my youth gone to?!

June

- Shot chef Janice Wong for DBS Bank in Singapore
- Visited deviantART HQ with my team Infinity Seven! Fun times.

The ads ran on all sorts of medias including TV! Was also cool to receive my bank letters with my work featured on its flyers.

July

- Filming for Asia's Next Top Model
- My first Harper's Bazaar cover published! For Harper's Bazaar Vietnam's 1st anniversary issue
- Featured in FHM Singapore -- "Girls on Games"
- Showed in Harper's Bazaar exhibition "Fashion in Focus" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Interviewed by Singaporean art blog The Art Train

My Harper's Bazaar Vietnam cover story!
Story cover
Issue cover
Harper's Bazaar exhibition "Fashion in Focus" in Kuala Lumpur

FHM Singapore

Interviewed by The Art Train

August

- SingaporeBrides editorial "Song to the Siren"
- Visited Stockholm, WCS Sweden
- One of my longest interviews, for Cadred.org -- "Zhang Jingna: Aesthetic Manifestation"

SingaporeBrides editorial, love how I always get to experiment and direct these shoots

September

- Busy putting my paperworks together for O-1 visa application~

October

- Started psychotherapy
- 7 Honorable Mentions in International Photography Awards for Fine Arts: Portraits, Fine Arts: Nudes, and Advertising: Fashion
- The beginning of a series of vacations starting with Lijiang and Shangri-la :D

Bluemoon Valley in Lijiang
Ahaha sheep in Shangri-la across from Banyan Tree. I chased them all away taking photos XDDD

November

- Got out of depression!
- Hokkaido (Hell Valley!) and Osaka for the first time
- Met up with Sugizo in Osaka!
- Judge on The Big Shot Season 3
- Still working on my visa

Hell Valley in Hokkaido, so badass!
Got to drop by Luna Sea's gig at Zepp in Osaka and hang out with Sugizo a little, new shoot hopefully in 2013!


December

- Fujiwara Kaoru-inspired shoot
- One of my favourite stories, for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, Nu Renaissance Aristocracy, published
- Visited Versailles, Louvre, Venice and Rome for the first time! More things off my bucket list yay
- O-1 visa for the US approved! Woot.
- Asia's Next Top Model episode aired! Winning shot will be used as ad for TRESemmé
- Moved to New York

Nu Renaissance Aristocracy for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, super love this story! Linh does hair magic.
Europe! I took so many photos yet in the end it was still easiest to just use those from my iPhone OTL
Aired Dec 30th, the beauty episode of Asia's Next Top Model where I was the photographer :D Photo of the week winner was Sofia Wakabayashi, my fav from the shoot ♥

And and! Last but not least, quick overview of my hair this year in chronological order:

Some of you might remember, my hair was this long before, it was quite a change for me.

I cut it off on new year's eve of 2012, a new start and all that, right? Then I got to play around with the colours all year. Awesome. And so many many thanks to Delos and Yvonne at Sabun Cabane for taking such good care of my hair! I'm gonna miss you ladies. ♥ 

I want to make another post with some inspirational reads from this year at a later time, I'll end this post here. Also feel free to check out my Inspirational Reads 2012 post here for what inspires me: http://www.zhangjingna.com/blog/2013/01/inspirational-reads-2012.html

In closing I'd like to once again thank everyone for cheering and supporting me this year and, I'm so grateful to still be here.

I'm super excited to start 2013, shoots and personal projects and all.

I wish everyone's new year will be something amazing, let's work hard for our dreams together.

10 Years on deviantART

It's a little hard to believe that I'd been on the website for 10 years now. Time passes by so fast. >_<

I wrote a journal post on dA about the decade, and it's sort of like a mini journey for my photography too, since it is where I started out. You can read it here.

Along with that I completed an improvement meme as well! Here's a snapshot of my work from 2006-2012 :D

Pink Hair

It was a semi-impulsive thing, but something I'd been meaning to do for a while now and just didn't really.

I was introduced to X Japan's music 10 years ago on this day. It wasn't much later that I found out that it's also hide's death day.

In a very round-about way, X was the reason I eventually ended up doing photography. So this is in his memory, RIP hide.