Motherland Chronicles #37 - Masked

Motherland Chronicles #37 - Masked

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

I was working on a behind-the-scenes post for this, then it kind of turned into a thorough entry on how to conceptualize a photoshoot @_@ Almost done with it now~ Hopefully posting next week! :D

Gonna be in LA for the next 2 weeks through BlizzCon!

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 #31 - Book of Roses

Motherland Chronicles #31 - Book of Roses

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

Dress: Phuong My
Earrings: Harlequin Romantique

This was part of a shoot where I got overly ambitious and tried to do 3 completely different shots for Motherland Chronicles, when I usually do only 1 or 2.

I had the concepts and clothes all planned out, and even an order as to how I'll be posting the shots, only to realize on morning of shoot that the very first look was missing its dress, because I had forgotten to confirm with the designer I was borrowing from as I was super busy shooting the days before. I was so sad. T_T;;;

But!! I got to do braids and pearls, and books and flying petals, which is like all my favorite things combined. So not all is lost.

And my team has levelled up to professional petal-throwers. Which is rather awesome.

Here's a couple behind-the-scenes:

I like this shot a lot because it feels kind of poetic. But rather unintentionally, I realized later that it's a perfect a side by side comparison between a seamless paper backdrop and the Savage Black/White Collapsible.

Because the collapsible is made from light-absorbing fabric, it gives a much cleaner black background than the regular seamless paper backdrops which reflect light. It's also mobile and easy to set up since it folds and unfolds like a large reflector. Pretty handy. :D

Viktorija touching up makeup and Junya the hair. I love braids. ♥

Reviewing photos~

Going to L.A. this Thursday for more Motherland stuff! Can't wait to show you what we're working on. :D

Motherland Chronicles #26-28 - The Three Graces

Motherland Chronicles #26-28 - The Three Graces 

Mini-series, featuring masks handcrafted in Venice by Casin dei Nobili for Motherland Chronicles.

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

A little behind on posts as we're busy working on the artbook promo video. I'm also trying to finish up a behind-the-scenes post for this, stay tuned! :D

Motherland Chronicles #12 - Winter's Rose

Motherland Chronicles #12 - Winterland Fairytales II

Photography: Zhang Jingna

Makeup: Viktorija Bowers

Model: Lily Olsen-Ecker

Photo Assistant: Ngoc Vu

I'm terrible at keeping up once I travel. :( Meant to include some behind the scenes for this post and thus the delay, but never got around to them in the end T_T

Retouched the shot on the plane during my 26-hour trip from NY to Vietnam. I don't enjoy the cramped space for laptop and wacom but managed somehow anyway :D Really love the photo. Thank you team for the wonderful work and Savage Paper for the backdrop! ♥