Exhibition: A Glimpse at Photo Vogue

Last Thursday I was in Milan for the opening of "A Glimpse at Photo Vogue" exhibition. I attended it with fellow photographer Kirsty Mitchell and her makeup artist Elbie Bayley. So happy to be reunited with Kirsty after WPPI in Vegas in February! Her presence also turned out to be quite vital, you shall soon find out why. But first check out some pictures :D

Galleria Carla Sozzani was an amazingly beautiful venue. Besides the gallery, the complex also held a cafe, bookstore, and boutique with killer fashion. The artists and works on display at the exhibition were diverse and all incredibly stunning. I'm very honored to be part of the show, once again thank you to the team at Photo Vogue and Vogue Italia for putting this together. ♥ 

Front of the exhibition
My work! :D
Someone checking out fellow Chinese photographer Kiki Xue's work, on display next to mine.

Really like this shot because they looked so contemplative. Mhmm.
Is that water? Yes that's water.

I had to explain a few times how the self portrait in water was taken, it was pretty fun seeing people's reactions when I told them about directing my assistant for element arrangements with a tiny mirror. :D

Crowd at the opening.
Ohai. Picture courtesy of Photo Vogue.
Cute message in the guest book, thank you!
View of the courtyard and cafe downstairs
And a wide shot!

I got to meet fanboys and fangirls, and strangers who didn't know of my work who loved my pictures. It was awesome.

I also fainted because I forgot I was allergic to alcohol.

Dun dun dunnn.  

You'd think for how much time I used to spend at a wine shop back in Singapore with people who loved champagne, that knowledge ought to have been ingrained in me by now. But NOPE, total brain fail.

There were servers walking around with drink trays at the show and at one point I thought "hey water!" because it was really warm and I was really thirsty. But It was white sparkling. I drank it anyway without really thinking. 

I'd always reacted badly to the bubbly stuff. At our dinners, people would usually make sure I didn't end up sampling too much, because I'd been known to disappear into the bathroom for half hour periods and coming out white as a sheet. But of course I would conveniently forget it all thinking surely a tiny bit couldn't hurt.

So anyway, a tiny shot glass of it, and half an hour later I started to feel the beginning of something unpleasant. At first I actually thought that I was getting tired because standing in heels was tiring, and it was crowded and too warm. So I headed towards the entrance for some fresh air. By the time I found Kirsty and Elbie there I'd realized that nooo it was my alcohol allergy.

I attempted sitting at at window sill across from the exhibition title wall, hoping for it to pass.

I was firmly in denial and waiting for it to go away.

Then I started started having trouble sitting up and, well, denial is bad for you Jingna.

The bookstore was right next to the gallery, just a few steps ahead, so I walked over and asked one of the store ladies if I could sit at the chair near the entrance, she said okay.

Then it started getting horrible and I was like omg I need to throw up for this to be over but I can't do it here, right in front of a bookstore and gallery! I hated the idea of inconveniencing people and that would be like, totally the epitome of it. Sometimes I'm so proud of my Asian upbringings. Priorities.

As I continued slowly dying inside I also realized how I super needed the bathroom. When it got bad like that, it was always a combination of cold sweat + vomit + stomachache + diarrhea + bonelessly weak + fainting spells. Ugh.

So basically I started melting onto the table next to me when the weakness hit and I knew the only way it was gonna go was get worse. Kirsty or Elbie, my savior! Managed to get me some water and a plastic bag from the store girl, who needed to open the door behind me for it which involved herculean efforts on my part to move the chair, but I made it. No throwing up over super expensive chairs and tables and books. I'd never been prouder of being able to move a chair.

Before I sat down I'd asked if there was a bathroom, the girl had told me downstairs, but because I knew all I could possibly accomplish was roll down the steps, I tried biding my time hoping to muster up some energy, but obviously it wasn't gonna happening. (Denial is bad.) Then at some point I think they finally realized just how severe it actually was and someone said if I could walk a bit, I could use the office bathroom at the back of the store on the same floor. I was like omg THANK YOU SO MUCH and I'M SO SORRY but THANK YOU SO MUCH. 

I stumbled across the store, leaning down on a table once halfway in the middle, telling Elbie when she asked if I needed a hand that I was totally okay making it on my own, like pft, why would I need someone to hold me to walk!? And promptly collapsed at the door to the office. Very nice.

I made it eventually, and couldn't be more thankful that it all happened within time for me to do all the things I had to do in the bathroom, without me having to inconvenience anyone or the store itself too much. And the bathroom was so blissfully clean I could do my super weak and fainting thing on the floor without feeling grossed out much afterwards. I know that's kind of ew, but what to do, dumb of me to forget, consequences in life and all that.

I'm just super glad it happened in the last half hour of the day and that I made it home in one piece.

Exciting show opening story I know. So proud of myself. For the exhibition. Totally.

Here's a pic with aforementioned shot glass:

Look at that tiny thing. Bane of my existence.

And although I just spent 800 words describing my alcohol allergy reaction, be assured that the majority of the time was spent in fantastic company. It's also made me miss doing solo shows. I was asked about Angel Dreams in a recent interview and it reminded me just how long it's been (3 years). I hope Motherland Chronicles will do well so I can have an excuse and a body of work to hold another exhibition. :D

One last look of my images at the show:

Celosia
Porcelain
Motherland Chronicles #7 - Self Portrait in Water
The Coldest Day

Once again thank you so much everyone for your kindness and support, and all those who came down as well, it was lovely meeting you! Love you all. ♥ ♥ ♥

If any of you are in or near Milan and want to see the exhibition, it is running until August 10th:

Address: Galleria Carla Sozzani, 10 Corso Como, Milan
Hours: Everyday 10:30 am - 7:30 pm; Wednesday - Thursday 10:30 am - 9:00 pm

Photo Vogue, Slave Mag, Out of Order Magazine, Mochi Magazine

Bunch of new press stuff to share :D

3 images featured on PhotoVogue's frontpage for Pic of the Day last month:

To have a piece from Motherland Chronicles included makes me uber happy.

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Interview with Slave Mag out in their new issue.

I shared a quote from Hermann Hesse's "Knulp", my aspiration is to one day slip in something from Gundam (when it's not to answer the question of how the zemotion came about).

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Interviewed by Yale University's art magazine Out of Order. Talked about fashion, conventions, developing ideas, and deviantART.

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And last but not least a shorter one with Mochi Magazine, about becoming and being a professional photographer:

New Interviews: AERIS, SLR Lounge

Yay new press stuff!

First one's an interview for AERIS Magazine, conducted by Yinsey Wang, who first interviewed me back in 2011 for Cambridge University's student newspaper Varsity.

I haven't been feeling up for interviews for a while now, amidst all the moving and busy schedules, it's really difficult to find time; but Yinsey always has such good questions that when we have our interviews I feel like I'm just having a pleasant chat rather than being asked the same things I've already gave answers to 500 years ago. :D

In this article I talked about Motherland Chronicles, inspirations, moving to New York, how I work, and being Chinese.

Check out the full interview here: http://www.aerismagazine.com/2013/03/14/aeris-talks-to-zhang-jingna/

The 2nd one is kind of a feature, with a video of me hanging out with Von Wong, Kirsty Mitchell and Renee Robyn at WPPI.

Check out the article here: http://www.slrlounge.com/exclusive-wppi-interview-kirsty-mitchell-jingna-zhang-renee-robyn-and-ben-von-wong

And Youtube video here (where all I do is giggle, basically)

There are a couple other things coming up but I figured I'll post them a bit at a time so it's not too overwhelming. I really enjoyed my time at WPPI, and the interview with AERIS I love. Hope you guys like it! ♥

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

North American Star League Finals

The past month went by so fast I barely felt it, and suddenly it's gone. I guess between the trips to Seychelles, Beijing, Toronto and L.A., all the flying took enough days away to make it much shorter than the usual 30 I should have.
I kept telling myself that I'd find time to do certain things but there just never seem to be enough hours in a day to finish all the stuff that I want to do anymore. I feel it so much that I push back sleep day after day after day, and now it's somehow became a habit to skip sleep regularly. -_-
My body has really not been agreeable at all, and as much as I keep telling myself I need to sleep every day it's become so hard, especially when I'm in the mode to push myself to work.
Last weekend I found my way to Ontario, California, for the grand finals of the North American Star League. I think it's hard for a lot of people to understand why I'm spending so much time being so serious about StarCraft, minus the few long-time followers who've been with me since my earliest days. I don't really know how to express it very well, but I guess I could say it's just me being me.
Like with go, air rifle, anime, and music, I want to pursue the things I enjoy and love. Through them I am always learning, and they are what brought me to where I am today with photography. This passion for things has kept me going and I'd never want to change or give up who I am because of what others may say. Please bear with me if I blog about things that are not related to photography. ^^;
At some point I will probably write about the shoots in Seoul and Seychelles before I completely forget about them, but since the shots have yet to be released I guess they'll have to wait a bit.
The NASL finals was pretty much the first time I'd ever been to a LAN event. It was a bit like combining the experience of a concert live and competition both into one haha.
My caster friend Wombat gave me lifts to the venue both Friday and Sunday (thank you Wombat!) but we were late on Friday because despite being up nearly all night I was still working in the morning. =_=;
We arrived at the Ontario Convention Center sometime past noon. The matches were supposed to start at 11am but they were delayed due to technical issues with the projectors. I heard they broke like literally 10 minutes before the doors opened. o_o;; So I guess forever was spent on the attempt of fixing them but to no avail. We started Friday with no live video feeds on the big screens, only gameplays with the production tabs cropped out, it was a little bit painful, but everything was fixed and smooth from Saturday on~!
Tasteless as MC
They had this background for conducting interviews backstage with the players after their wins, I think they only did it for the very first match (Ret vs PuMa) but thereafter it was all on the main stage because the live audience couldn't see anything. ;_; 
Also backstage, Friday's schedules
I gotta say, the lighting was really too dim for photography throughout the event. I should probably have given my feedback to the NASL guys and hoped for them to do something about it, oh well... ;_; 
Morrow setting up in his booth
I'd never been to MLG so I'm not sure how it works there, but at GSL the GOM Studio has four booths. Two players would be playing their match while the next two set up their stuff in the other two booths, so no time is lost in between matches. There were pretty long waiting times in between at NASL and I hope it's something that they'd be able to improve on in the future aside from the lighting. 
WeMade FOX Moon
I saw Moon resting (napping?) backstage before his game and it reminded me so much of my air rifle days~ In between qualifier and finals I'd usually do this as well. It's not just completely about resting but also staying focused on the competition. Some players like to move around but media, fans and other players can sometimes become distracting factors and you really don't want to be thinking about results when it's your turn to go. 
oGsZenio making his entrance
oGsMC being ever so confident <3
MC in his booth
I know it's weird but I really admire MC for his super upright sitting posture. Reminds me of school days when I was back in China, except I definitely don't sit like that right now haha.
Day9
Moon being interviewed by Rachel Quirico after his win
Moon made a lot of banelings in his game vs HasuObs. When Rachel interviewed him after his game asking about it, he thought for a while, and then said that it was because July made a lot of banelings in the previous match, so he felt like making more than that. Everyone was like LOL wtf, it was quite a moment and I don't think the audience laughed harder than that for the rest of Friday.
SeleCT doing his Sup Son ¯_( ツ)_/¯ pose for the cameras
FnaticSen
Sen's expressions after winning were always super intense, I'm really glad that he did so well. 
SlayerS BoxeR and Jessica
It may not feel like it to some others, but the venue was actually a little bit cold. 
Lindsey Sporrer
On Sunday I caught a glimpse of Lindsey. Super gorgeous girl, it was really nice that she was making an effort to understand the game. 
At some point one of our teammates was interviewed by her. I heard that after plugging the team channel it went straight to the max 100, pretty cool haha.  
Sen cheerful by the CSL girls
Day9 signing for fans
In between matches there were allocated times and places for signings, but sometimes people would stop players or casters as they walked around and once it starts it starts a queue in the middle of nowhere and lasts for a long time till the matches start again. 
SeleCT's autograph~
We saw some really exciting matches between MC and PuMa for the grand finals. MC was having such an incredibly sick comeback but PuMa played so amazingly as well. I think most people agree that it's probably one of the most epic set of games in a tournament. My respect for MC definitely went up a notch, he was so good ._.
PuMa in his booth after winning the final game
The players of NASL Season 1 Finals
The winners PuMa, MC and Sen take home $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 respectively. I'm super happy for the players, thank you for giving us such great games~ It really ended the event on a high note, you'd really have to be in the audience to feel how epic it was~
Temp0 and Anna Prosser also performed two SC2 parody songs 'Dan' and 'Overrun This Town', one before and one after the matches on Sunday. Great performances met with a lot of love from the audience. Was definitely a nice touch to end the games~
Anna Prosser
Temp0 and Anna Prosser
I walked around a bit as things started to wrap, watched people trying to get their last photos with their favourite players and casters.
Bunch of people having a group photo with BoxeR with everyone looking in a different direction
I managed to meet up with Danglars, my team's #1 fan. Helped him take a photo with Tastosis and then they told me I needed to get some photos taken too. So we got a couple together.
Wombat, Danglars, me
Me, Day9 and Danglars
And last but not least... with another girl~!
Megumixbear and Jingna
Megumi and I actually met in the washroom. It just happens that we both like saying hi to strangers we meet in the ladies and ask them how they feel about the event. She got to it first that day, and asked to shake my hand. I was super confused and taken aback cuz that was so completely random but cute and terribly sweet all at the same time haha. But yo, she's a Master league Terran, teaches ikebana, outgoing and friendly, how are there such cool girls around? I totally need to go to these LANs more.
There was an after party later that night but photography wasn't allowed. It was SUPER crowded but really fun. I'm not sure what else I can say about it? I met a lot of people and Rachel was super hot~! :D
I'm so looking forward to MLG Anaheim now, especially with my players attending as well. I think it'd really be quite an experience cuz I haven't travelled with a team since 2007, maybe 2006? Time passes by so fast I can't even keep track anymore. ;_; When people ask about my work these days they're like how long have you been doing photography? And part of me would want to say four years, before I realize that another year has already passed and it is five now. It didn't feel like that long ago at all when I used to say I'd only been doing photography for three months, time really does fly. T___T
Anyway, please do check out my team's Facebook album and my TeamLiquid thread for more photos~! (And please forgive the bad writing, grammar and vocabulary usage ;_;)

May 2nd.

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I was introduced to X Japan's music on 2nd May, the summer of my first year at RGS.

We were at my guitarist's place together with my bassist and they had me sight-read Endless Rain on a keyboard with 3 octaves too short. It wasn't till much later that I found out that it was hide's death anniversary.

I didn't really like X at first. The too heavy music, the almost scary visual looks, but little by little, it managed to grow on me somehow.

Perhaps covering their songs gave room for appreciation, perhaps it was the sadness that came with all their ballads, I'm not quite sure.

Some nights I'd play Tears on loop and cry myself to sleep, some nights I'd listen to it a little too much and wish I were gone too.

I wonder about all these deaths, all these could-have-beens, and I wonder if there's a god above that's just taking all these away from us just because... and I can't, I can't understand.

Why is it so unfair? Why does it hurt so much? Why does it becomes so much harder to live as the days and years pass by?

Sometimes I think the scars heal and memories fade and that perhaps I'm gonna be okay. But sometimes I don't know how far I can go, don't know if I can live, because remembering hurts so so much but I don't think I can live if I forget either.

I wish I understood this sadness, wish I could chase it away. But nothing makes sense, nothing.

8 Tips for Fashion Photography

Sometime late last year I was approached by PhotoYou Magazine to contribute an article for their winter issue and give some tips on fashion photography. It's been out for a while now so with permission from my lovely editor Valerie Wee here's a repost for those who can't get their hands on a copy. I hope some of you will find it useful!

PhotoYou Winter 2010: Fashion Forward
Photos: Zhang Jingna
Words: Zhang Jingna and Valerie Wee

1. Look and Learn 

Look at images every day. Whether it's photographs or paintings—looking, learning and observing are the key to creating an eye for arresting images. This will form the foundations of your aesthetics and style, from colour palette, lighting, framing, clothing, makeup to model choices.

Always find opportunities to shoot. If you're starting with a single kit lens, learn how the wider and longer ends of the lens differ in terms of effects to your photographs before moving on for more expensive gear. Does it distort the model's proportions? Does it make the scenery look vast and wide? Learn what works best for you, it will help develop give you confidence when working in different situations and also your choice in what you'll need when you buy your next lenses.

2. Simple is Always Best 

Few people are blessed enough to start their photography career with a full team of fantastic stylists, hair and makeup artists. Fashion tests or your initial portfolio work often just need to be simple and classy. Keep the setting and look, such as makeup and styling, clean and light. Grasp the skill of taking really good simple shots before getting more experimental and elaborate in your set-up.

DIY Styling Tip: 

Male models can go topless to make the shot work. For girls, get them into body-con outfits which will accentuate their figures—scoop neck tank tops, tights, high heels no shorter than 5 inches are all great basic items that can get you very strong looks. Alternatively, you can also try a crop jacket and pair of hot pants on her to add variety. Keep the hair simple – worn razor straight or simply pulled back into a bun. You’ll be surprised how chic and sleek going simple can be. 

3. Light and Shadows 

Good lighting, like everything else, comes with experience. It doesn't have to be complicated, but play around with your settings and put together three to four different setups for different looks. To start, master just one light. This will help you go a long way. Always watch out for shadows when photographing. Our eyes catch on to highlights first, but unintended messy shadows can break a shot when reviewed later on. Train your eye to observe what you are shooting in its entirety.

4. Always Cast Your Models 

The purpose of a model portfolio is to help them get jobs, but it can also be misleading.

Professional models usually start modelling from as young as 12 or 13 years of age. Imagine how much their faces and bodies will have changed by the time you see their portfolio photos. You may see bleached blonde hair but she may be sporting raven black when she turns up at your studio; you may be shooting a super skinny '20s flappers look and she's just put on 8 kilograms from a holiday in the last three months. You never know.

So always do a casting or, at the very least, request up-to-date polaroids from the model agency. If you're engaging a freelance model, you can do the same, or make arrangements to meet up for a casual coffee to assess his or her current look.

5. Supervise Hair & Makeup 

Always be around when hair and makeup are being done. Knowing what the colour palettes are can help you determine how you set up your shot. Try to stay invisible and don’t get in the way of your beauty team. Step in when something is off from your expectations or direction. You will learn and eventually know what works best for your shoots after a few sessions. And when you work with new teams on jobs, you’ll be able to give direction, as well as learn new things at the same time.

6. Clothes Must Be Seen 

Fashion photography is about aesthetics and trends.

Fashion is about selling the latest season's clothes and accessories. It's about making people covet what the model is wearing. Are you shooting a picture that makes you want the clothes for yourself, for your best girlfriends or for your boyfriend?

As a general rule in fashion photography, make sure your lighting always accentuates the texture and beauty of the materials—the lustre of silk, the sheerness of chiffon, the sparkles in gems and precious stones. These details will heighten the beauty and quality of an image itself.

7. Keep a Journal

It doesn’t have to be a public blog, but you should have a place where you can jot down experiences from pre-productions, meetings and photoshoots.

You don’t have to do it diligently, but whenever there's a good or bad shoot, there's something you're bound to have learnt.

Write down all the stuff you thought was cool, things you felt ruined an important shot or even the whole project; approaches you felt were bad initially but turned out great, the positive and negative experiences, miscommunications, oversights, joy, etc.

From time to time, go back and read up on these reflections. Sometimes it will send you harsh reminders of mistakes not to be repeated, and sometimes it will help you see things in a fresh perspective.

The best part is that it will help you realize and appreciate the extent to which you have progressed. And because we are always changing, and that sometimes we forget the rawness, newness and passion of our earlier days, it's a great way to look back at those times and perhaps be re-inspired once again.

8. Be Confident, Be Humble

Take advice and suggestions from others, but be confident of your vision. Everyone in your team looks to you to achieve the final product—the photograph. You may have a client, an art director, or an editor to turn to for opinions, but you must know deep down inside that you're the creator of your work.

Collaborate with people whom you respect and who respect you in return. Believe that no matter the circumstance, you will shine in the photograph because everybody sees the world differently, and is what will set your images apart from someone else's.

Remember there is always room for reinvention and newness, and only with a humble attitude and belief for constant learning will you keep moving forward. Always stay true to yourself, always keep learning.

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Want to learn more? Check out my online course Artistic Portrait Photography.

More: photography articles, gear list

Last but not least here's a picture of me freezing in the Toronto cold. Photo by Conan Thai.

PS: If anyone's interested, I'll do a meetup this weekend?

PPS: Plugging for my SC2 clan, we're on NA server looking for good master players to practice with. Feel free to come to channel "iS" to hang out, see you there~ XD