Motherland Chronicles #15 - Ghost


Motherland Chronicles #15 - Ghost

Photography/Model: Zhang Jingna

Meant to do a Mother's Day picture wanting to cocoon myself but... it's actually pretty hard to wrap yourself up without assistance. Had to do this at 10pm on Monday after 2 days of almost no sleep because other deadlines, I think of it as an accomplishment to have even managed to set up a shoot.

Also Toby forbade me from doing black background pictures for Motherland Chronicles and here I am on the other extreme.

I'm taking so long to adjust from my jetlag it's actually painful. But, Toronto next week! Yay!


Motherland Chronicles #8 - Underwater

Motherland Chronicles #8 - Underwater

Photography/Model: Jingna Zhang
Assistant: Abby Lim

I had a shot all planned out last week, and then for some reason I dug this up instead.

I'm not sure I can explain my obsession with water lately, it's like a terrible craving I can't control and I just keep being drawn to all my old pictures with water in them. It's crazy.

This was taken the first time I went to Lijiang. Abby and I stayed at Banyan Tree, there was an open-air jacuzzi in the yard of our villa, and because I can't resist doing shoots wherever I go, even on a true holiday, I did this.

In other news, you will soon see the result of my Fujiwara Kaoru-inspired shoot from late last year. Both the pic and the influences it has on my fashion work so far this year. I'm quite pleased with myself for it haha.

And last but not least, packages incoming for Motherland Chronicles! Here's a hint.

Motherland Chronicles #7 - Self Portrait in Water

Motherland Chronicles 7 - Self Portrait in Water

Photography: Jingna Zhang
Photo Assistant: Ngoc Vu

Wow this shoot. I don't even know where to begin. It was... tedious, but there's nothing quite as satisfying as laboring a bit for what you love.

I get asked on how to take or set up for self portraits, so here's a little on behind the scenes for this shot. It's pretty similar to how I take self portraits normally, just a little (a lot) more work.

I got a kiddy pool for the shoot because it's just kind of too limiting space-wise (and dangerous) in teh bath. But the pool I got turned out larger than necessary, then we had to forget to get a hose, so filling it up to just a quarter took Ngoc and I an hour of ferrying water via containers around the house. (Emptying it was worse, it was like never-ending scooping T_T)

AND IT WAS SO COLD. We turned the heat up super high but it was still freezing because the heater is all the way in the kitchen and so the living room remained super cold. T_T Thankfully Ngoc was there, and she was able to fetch me hot water every once in a while to keep the water temperature from dropping off to too cold. But the few times I shivered in the water though, my mind kept going back to the 1001 shoots where I tortured my models in various situations of cold before. I AM SO SORRY. You know I love you all. ♥

The whole setup for this shoot took about an hour to arrange on top of the water-filling. It was a really slow process because I needed to gauge where to position things, then take a shot to see how it looked on camera, then rearrange and repeat.

The camera was mounted on top of my tripod, held at a really precarious angle because with its legs fully opened, the 70-200 is just a tad too close for the nearest focal length (ugh). So we taped 2 bottles of softdrinks to one of the legs to help keep it steady. And hooray!! No camera falling over this time! (Just once almost.)

Except I dropped my phone into the pool while trying to do light check. Gah. Thankfully after immediately powering off and a heater and 2 nights in a bag of rice it seems to work fine now. Why do all my self portrait shoots include equipment accidents. D:

Anyway so, hooked up to the camera were my laptop for tethering so I can see the screen, and also sync cord for the flash because I was using the hot-shoe for wireless shutter release.

I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the shot to look like so it was just getting the lighting and framing right, then populating the shot with flowers and getting my hair in place.

The original idea was to have my hair flowing downwards, but turns out it was a bit too short to stay around my collarbone and just keeps falling behind my shoulders instead. I tried moving them to the side which had a really nice effect that looked like painted windswept movements, but I couldn't get the framing right because I had to keep moving while trying to pose and not crash into my tripod and press the shutter so... change of plans.

Mirror time! I would check it for placement of things and direct Ngoc on how to arrange my hair and the flowers. And after a dozen or so stop-starts this was it.

We started the shoot around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and finished packing up around close to 9pm at night. I don't think I've ever spent so long on just one photo, but it was certainly an interesting experience. Makes me itch to do more shots in water because now I think I can do better and just want to explore more things overall. But ahhhh the pain of filling it up, cleaning up, the cold! Maybe when it starts getting warmer. 

But I mean, look at this, isn't the way water catches light amazingly beautiful? Totally going to have more water-related photos in the future.

Motherland Chronicles #2 - Winterland Fairytales

Motherland Chronicles #2 - Winterland Fairytales

Photography/Model: Zhang Jingna
Headpiece by Julee M Clark

I love the headpiece so much~ Makes me feel like a princess :D

Wall of text for behind the scenes instead of photos coming up, recent updates can be found at bottom of post. Enjoy! 

Man, I don't know why, but I let Toby talk me into going into the snow storm that started on Friday for a self portrait.

I did it on the rooftop of my new apartment building, and dude, climbing the ladder in a long skirt with camera bag and backpack while trying to balance a choker used as headpiece on my forehead was not easy. Upon reaching the top, when I opened the latch to get up, it freaking slammed back onto my head because, woah, wind, not forgiving.

After wrestling with all of that for a while I was finally on the roof and properly getting hailed on, I figured I'd make it quick since it was about 15 minutes to sunset anyway.

So I set up, trying to find an angle, but just as I was getting into position the wind freaking blew my tripod over! With my camera on it!!! I was in such shock and so numbed from the cold that I didn't even feel a response at that time besides trying to stop it from rolling and falling off the rooftop. Cuz dude, that's my baby.

I didn't even get to consider that my camera would break because just, no, it couldn't be allowed happen. Thank god it seemed to be ok. And because I was half freezing to death without any jackets whatsoever, I simply strapped my camera bag to one of the tripod legs to weigh that setup down, and continued shooting and prayed very very hard that it was enough to hold.

Truthfully speaking, I was doubtful about whether I could get a usable shot at all. My hair covered my face half the time, and besides disentangling the stray hair from the headpiece, I had to sort out my dress and scarf but still make it look cool. And of course once I was done the wind would ruin it all over again. So it was no surprise that when I finally figured out a pose that I thought would work with the clothing and composition, my camera refused to take any more pictures. Outright refused to respond to anything.

I attempted to brush off ice from the camera and wipe the lens, and tried taking a couple shots again, but nope, no response at all. So sigh, dejected, it was pack up time. 

On the way down, I may or may not have torn the seam of my dress a little, I was cold enough to not care, but woah, when I finally made it back to my room, shivering, it dawned on me finally just how dangerous my little expedition was.

A little bit more and my camera could have flown off the roof, or it could simply have fallen over a second time and the lens completely shatter, or [insert a handful other terrible terrible but very likely scenarios]... Yeah.

It's probably just unreasonable to think I could have dealt with so many aspects of setting up for a self portrait in such extreme weather with almost no time, entirely on my own. I really should have had an assistant. -_-

But oh well, at least everything turned out okay in the end and I have a photo I like, which I even processed in the same evening! Score. I don't think I've processed a photo from a shoot on the same day since my first year, so it's a really awesome feeling actually.

And that's week 2! I hope you enjoyed my little story and sorry for the wall of text. If anything I hope it'd let you think twice about doing on location self portraits without assistance, or just try not to be too impulsive like I was. Haha. :D 

A quick update on the past week:

Moved into my new place with roommates the weekend before! Very nice space, I can't wait to start fitting it out for shooting.

Did an interview and was asked to talk about Motherland Chronicles, it put me in a good mood throughout, makes me super happy that the project is picking up some interest. :D

I'm also starting to receive new jewelry and props from collaborators, some specifically designed for MLC, so I'm very excited about the upcoming weeks' shoots.

And NYFW! Was fun. Bumped into familiar faces and enjoyed myself, hope I'll get to go to more of the major shows next season.

But those very same days! LUNA SEA was in Singapore! The whole week my Facebook feed was flooded with updates about them and I was so sad I couldn't be there. Sugizo said the band loved Singapore though, so maybe they would return in the future, or I can just wait for them to come to thhe US again? :D

I've got a big meeting coming up this week! Wish me luck please.  
Last but not least I'd like to wish everyone a super duper Happy Lunar New Year! Have a good one and enjoy! I miss my pineapple tarts and nian gao and lo hei and all that awesomesauce mandarin oranges. But I do have some homemade dumplings from grandma to tide me over, and Gundam Night today! Time to build me some Master Grade Wing Zeroes.

FHM Singapore - Girls on Games

FHM Singapore, July '12

My first printed interview where I get to talk about the team! :D

Thank you Kelly for including me in the article alongside uber cool girls Anna Prosser, Jessica Chobot, Morgan Romine and Rachel Quirico~

Unfortunately I was overseas when we did this so I couldn't slot a new shoot in with the pink hair. Now the colours are all washing out and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be changing it next week when I go to the salon. Ah well next time >_>;;