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 #25 - Raven Girl

Motherland Chronicles #25 - Raven Girl

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Gregg Brockington
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Ernie Chang

Feather dress from Xiaolin by Julia Chew
Necklace by Harlequin Romantique
Backdrop from Savage Universal

Blog photo credits:
Work-in-progress of dress provided by Julia Chew 
Behind-the-scenes by Ernie Chang

At the beginning of Motherland Chronicles I made a few posts calling for designers and models to collaborate with on the project. Julia was one of a number of very talented people who reached out (and she's only 18!), offering her collection for me to shoot if I wanted. 

Amidst her designs there was a feather top that I was immediately in love with, and so I asked if she would be open to customizing something exclusively for the project... and she said yes! 

I went over her designs and pointed out things I liked from her existing pieces, then sent some references and suggestions on what would look good for what I had in mind for the photo. She came back to me with a sketch of the design and her plan for the dress in terms of materials a couple days later.

And then it was madness in getting the dress done.

1000+ feathers and a few months later it arrived in my mail.

The finished feather dress

It took me another 2 months before I found Germaine to model for the picture. 

And then of course because my shoots can never be completely smooth-sailing, Germaine fainted on set. Ahahahaha. /shot

Look at all that pretty curls before we fluffed it :D

So I shoot in my apartment and use the living room as a home studio. Because of how much I was travelling I thought perhaps I wouldn't be shooting as much at in NY this summer, and it'd be fine if we don't buy an AC cuz Motherland pictures are always single shots and don't take very long. 

Junya's probably thinking, "Jingna stop asking me to do 50 options and make up your mind!"

And so of course once I was on set I only focused on the shoot only and kind of forgot to feed everyone food and water. :( Plus the dress had a corset bodice underneath so it must have been pretty tight on top of being really warm in the studio with no AC.

Towards the end of the shoot Germaine was like "Um can I have some water..." and then before any of us could react she started to lean back looking like she was going to sit down, but promptly went supine on the floor like sleeping beauty in all her gorgeousness and head of hair. 

We were like omg omg oh crap are you okay!? And she was out for a little bit longer than I expected so I panicked a little for those very long, stretched seconds (it was maybe 5-10 seconds, but I'd thought she'd immediately come to). 

When she regained consciousness she looked a bit lost and asked "Oh hi was I out for long?" and after the phew and water we all started laughing and commenting on how gracefully she fell hahaha. 

I bought an AC immediately after that. :( 

Goethe's Sämmtliche Werke! ♥
I like adjusting details on set personally to get things perfect. And Harlequin Romantique necklace! ♥

All in all besides the incident it was a great shoot and I really enjoyed working on the picture. I'm super happy and can't gush enough about Julia's dress, the necklace from Harlequin Romantique (which I used as headpiece for MLC #2), the Monsoon collapsible backdrop from Savage Universal (used in MLC #12, #18, #21 and a few others), and the Goethe book I bought in Toronto a few years ago, which I just knew would come in as a beautiful piece of prop one day. Ahh it's perfect.

Toby's picture of the week also features Raven Girl telling a giant baby (and I mean GIANT) stories from the Goethe book. But creepy picture is creepy.

In other news, we're hitting the half year mark for Motherland Chronicles next week! Can you believe it!? I can't believe we lasted this long. Like, seriously, I've never been so consistent in my life (besides air rifle practice and my time in primary school, probably). 

I kind of want to do something uber special for it but unfortunately I'm going to Pennsic and even with a new shoot I might not have time to retouch the picture in time. :( 

Sigh so many sad faces in a blog post, but you can tell I'm pretty darn happy right? I can't wait to get Kickstarter for the book going. If only I can find the time to sit down and look through our video footage sighhh. Well soon, we're almost done designing the MLC logo!! :D 

And! Half year (almost)! Hooray!!


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



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

May 4th, 2013

Inspirational Reads 2012

When I'm interviewed and asked what inspires me, I usually simply say "travelling", or "art". It's hard to name specific works by someone that's not mainstream for it to mean anything to anyone, so I usually don't.

But if you'd ever been curious, here's a closer look -- a list of books comprising mainly of mangas, and then some novels, artbooks and photobooks that have been inspirational for me in 2012.

Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai nara by Fujiwara Kaoru

I'm starting off with this manga because the last shoot I did in 2012 was inspired by the art in this series. 

Vampires! I like vampire stories. But I would love this story even if there weren't any vampires at all.

When I first read this many years ago, despite how I loved it, I was left confused by the ending. After a long series of readings, from Hagio Moto's The Heart of Thomas, to her interview mentioning Hermann Hesse's works, to reading Hesse's Demian, and then to finally end up somewhere with the demiurge, I finally realized that the child who created Kanna and Ren's imperfect destinies in this was actually an echo of the Demiurge creating an imperfect world. And suddenly everything clicked into place, it was like a mini epiphany of sort and left me in wonder. That echo, whether intentional or not, to have my readings come a full circle to explain an earlier unknown made it feel so... fateful. And for that reason alone this story is special to me. 

But well, I also love angsty, helpless, predestined sad stories.

My favourite thing though, is Fujiwara Kaoru's artwork, I love her style so so very intensely. I've yet to finish processing the shoot inspired by her work, but I'm really excited about them so keep an eye out for when I get around to posting the photos, I hope you guys will like it. :D

She also has an artbook titled "Tomei na iro shita Shojo no Tame ni" but I can't seem to find a link of it online.

Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura

Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura

One of my all time favourite artists. Intense fight scenes, kickass characters of both sexes, totally badass weapons, and... clear depiction of people losing their body parts.

I get such conflicting feelings reading his work because it's so gory and messed up and... wrong... but beautiful at the same time.

If you've no time for manga, there's this: The Art of Blade of the Immortal.

I really want to do a BotI shoot, something I'll perhaps attempt in 2013 if I can find the cosplayers. 

Warnings: Violence/gore/nudity

Warnings #2: If you decide to check out more of Samura's work, just a fair warning, he has some really really really messed up stuff (adult/torture/gore I can't even adequately express in words). Keep out of reach of children.

Genshin - Toshiaki Kato

Toshiaki Kato is so obscure I couldn't find a proper cover pic of Genshin on Amazon Japan. -_-

His work is kinda like an art nouveau version of Ayami Kojima's, I'm also often reminded of Suemi Jun (for the angels), Yoshitaka Amano and Gustav Klimt (I mean, gold, hello).

But it could just be because I like seeing artists I like in every other artist's work that I also like? Wish I could get my hands on more of his books, but alas there aren't many.

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Kind of a really intense, fast-paced, focused, and homosexual version of Game of Thrones. (I might just be biased because GoT doesn't seem to know where it's going.)

A lot of plotting and tension and stunning characterizations which I'm super in love with. Reading Captive Prince makes me wish I could write.

Can't wait for the final book vol3 to be out soon.

Warnings: Violence/adult situations, read at your own peril for there be some boy on boy loving.

The Seventh Swan by Jaida Jones

No photo preview! So make do with my mug cover placeholder.  

It's a fairytale inspired by a bunch of fairytales. Starts off a little slow methinks, but builds up quickly, the rest reads like a dream.

Summary in author's words:

Based on a whole lot of fairy tales (including The Tinder Box and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, as well as the tale from which the title is taken). A tale of two brothers trying to fix a curse.

The Fairytales of Hermann Hesse

The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

I saw this at one of Yale's bookstores when I was just getting into Hesse's works. At that time I had just read Demian and Siddhartha, and was attempting The Glass Bead Game.

This collection is a pleasant surprise for me, for that was a time when I have not read any fairytales in a while, and it made me curious what sort of stories someone like Hesse would spin. The stories gave me a lot of visuals and once in a while I find myself re-reading the book for inspirations.

Hikaru no Go

Hikaru No Go by Hotta Yumi / Obata Takeshi

Inspirational no matter how many times I re-read it, always!

Maybe because the path to becoming the best is something we can all relate to as we work hard in whatever we choose to do, love and are passionate about.

Alongside with Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai nara, Hikaru no Go is one of those mangas I find myself re-reading every year. You can also watch the anime for free on Hulu if you're in the US.

Claymore by Yagi Norihiro

I saw the anime a few years ago, liked it, but put off attempting the manga because I really hate series that take forever to update. For some reason I finally caved in 2012 and checked it out, love it is all I can say really I guess.

Pretty lady monsters everywhere fought by badass pretty ladies, can't complain.

Warnings: Violence/gore/nudity

Liar Game by Kaitani Shinobu

Psychological, kinda like Death Note in some ways except Akiyama is always winning, but that's ok cuz he's hot badass.

Noblesse by Son Jae Ho / Lee Gwang Su

Vampires! Action! Pretty art!

I'm only bothered by how I keep thinking Rai is the main character but more often than not it feels like the focus is on Frankenstein. Not that I'm complaining because Franken's awesome anyway. Just feels like Rai should play a more active role. 

But regardless! Pretty boys, fantasy, action and sci-fi, all my favourite things rolled into one, I approve.

Also Tao reminds me of tobiee.

The Breaker series (Part I, Part II) by Jeon Geuk-jin / Park Jin-hwan

Action! Again! I don't know why but I just really like action stories in all sorts of mediums. I swear I'm not a violent person. ._.

This story is a bit interesting (almost amusing?) to me cuz it totally adopts Chinese wuxia stuff from Jin Yong into the modern world and it works.

Warning: Violence

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga by Yukimura Makoto

Vikings! A little Berserk-ish but the story kinda spiraled out weirdly. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet cuz it hasn't been that many volumes, but, warriors! Fighting! I also really like the chapter cover arts, quite a number have gone into my inspirations folder. 

Warning: Violence

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

It's McQueen. Everyone buy a copy, go.

Miles Aldridge: Acid Candy

One of the things I don't do much is talk about my favourite photographers or films. Because try as I may, paintings and drawings just inspire me much more than photographs and movies can and I really don't know why.

But the colours and fantasy in Miles Aldrige's works is something I have always loved, this is one of my favourite photobooks in my collection.  Warning: Nudity

Not much photobooks at all I'm afraid. I do buy them, but impact on me in 2012 wise... not so much. Maybe there'll be more in 2013? Stay tuned for that post next year. :D

PS: For the curious, I certainly did re-read Gundam Wing's mangas lol.  

For my photography articles, click here, and my gear list here.

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Anime Expo Book Orders - Ends June 10th

Surprise 2-day pop-up sale! :D

This is for Anime Expo only, taking place in Los Angeles from July 1-4th.

Place your order by clicking on the listed prices below. The books have to be picked up with your Paypal purchase confirmation at the event.

The original prices incl. shipping to US are listed for your reference, previews from the books can be viewed via the links from the thumbnails.

Thanks everyone who placed orders!

Pickup Details:

Anime Expo 2010
Los Angeles Convention Center
July 1-4
Artist Alley Table D11 - Zemotion

*The above prices apply for pre-order & pickup at Anime Expo 2010 ONLY. I will NOT be shipping them in the US.

Pre-order ends on June 10th, Los Angeles time (PST) 11:00am.
Limited copies available.

For shipping options to other cities please purchase from here.

Email me at if you've any questions! Looking forward to meeting everyone~ :3

Kuang Hong Postcard Collection

24 postcards


Free shipping on all products worldwide till Dec 31st 2009.

All available titles:

Noah and I have known each other for some six years now. We've both grown and influenced each other so much over the years, thinking back, it's incredible how fast time flies. I'm so glad we finally got publish something together. (Well, at the same time anyway. Haha) He's preparing for an artbook which had been delayed for years and years, but hopefully with the new year coming it's going to happen. And if it does, we may hop by SDCC together. Crossing fingers now. :D