Motherland Chronicles #23 - Dive + Behind the Scenes

Motherland Chronicles #23 - Dive
Photography: Zhang Jingna
Video: Underwater Assistance: Brenda Stumpf
Model: Jessica Dru Johnson
Makeup: Jenn Nelson
Photo Assistant: Matt Cadwallader
Special thanks to Brian Sousa for the pool

My first underwater photoshoot!!! It was so fun, but so hard too. T_T

I was fortunate to have my lovely model Jessica help pull this together, and her friend Brenda Stumpf (wonderful underwater photographer) give me all the underwater guidance, assistance and equipment I needed for the shoot. So thank you Jessica, Brenda, Jenn, Matt, and Brian who helped make this shoot possible. I can't say it enough!

Brenda managed put a little video together. It doesn't have very much footage unfortunately because the camera's housing got flooded :( But I figure it's still cool to see how things looked behind the scenes:

(Hello my first YouTube video. I'm not sure if I'll have anything again, but why not subscribe just in case? :D :D)

The shoot --

I know a number of people who've attempted underwater model photography. I've heard about the difficulties, I've imagined it, I've even experienced it as a model once.

But knowing the difficulties didn't quite make the shoot easier.

Sure, I didn't go in blind, but knowing it won't be easy just made me afraid that I wouldn't be able to get a single shot at all. (A trend in my Motherland Chronicles photoshoots, me being terrified of taking bad pictures, and after every one I'm drenched in enough self-loathing to bathe an army. It's very sad.)

Nevertheless, exploration is the point of the exercise.

Thank you Brenda for getting a picture for me

We had one light fixed to the camera housing (on an arm which I can adjust and twist around), and another above water, for when the sun started to go down.

I think the thing I'm most unused to is the wide angle lens and impeded movement in water.

Lens because I shoot with a 70-200mm most of the time when I'm photographing people, and movement because I like moving around when I shoot. It made me very sad when I can't shift as freely as on land. Or stay still when I'm floating.
Actually, you know I need to review photos every few shots, and it's not quite ideal while threading water, so my preferred position is to stand with my feet on the pool's floor.

But because I need depth for the model's dive and clothes to move around, I can't shoot in the shallow end. The compromise is to stand where I can just about raise my head for air if I tiptoe, so when my hands are occupied with the camera I can still surface for breaths. 

But like, I have these weights tied around my waist to help me sink when I dive, and so I keep sliding towards the deep end when I'm tiptoeing, and sometimes it means going under before I've taken a breath... It's very inconvenient.

Ohai, don't mind me, I'm just floating.

In other news, because I was inexperienced and it took some time to get the hang of things, I ended up staying in the water for 6 hours. I don't think I'd ever been in the water for so long in my life.

My hands were so pruney by the end of the shoot I felt that my fingernails would come off if I tried to peel them with a little bit of force.


I'm really thankful that Jessica's such a great model because I know it's hard to model underwater, and harder when it's so many freaking hours (and freezing, after sundown). She was positively shivering by hour 4, and I know I tend to not rest till I've gotten my shots so... thank you Jes for putting up with me. ♥

I can't wait to do this again.

And here, have some screenshots because I think the video is cool. It also makes me want to try filming next time.

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:

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:

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! ♥

Photography for Asia's Next Top Model

YouTube HD video for Asia's Next Top Model Cycle 1 Episode 6 is up!

It was a beauty challenge for TRESemmé and I'm really honored to have been invited to photograph the episode. 

You can check out the video here:

My favorite part was with Helena around 27min40sec, it's pretty funny. :D

Some of the photos:

Sofia Wakabayashi, Photo of the Week!
Melissa Th'ng Mei Ling
Stephanie Retuya

I've been keeping busy since moving to New York. Besides finding an apartment and getting 99 used Hermann Hesse books from Amazon, I've also got a new project planned, to be announce soon. It's going to be something personal and fun and I'm super excited to start shooting. :D

I'm also going to backtrack a little and post some behind-the-scenes from last year! So if there's a particular shoot you'd like to see, leave a comment to let me know and I'll try to find something.

PS: I'm a finalist in the Fashion and Beauty categories for [FRAMED] Awards! You can vote for me daily until Feb 8th ♥

TWiT Photo 32: Jingna Zhang

I was guest on TWiT Photo today. A big thank you to everyone who tuned in! I hope you enjoyed it~~
For those who didn't have a chance to catch it here is the VOD:  
And if you prefer to have the podcast, download it here
This is actually the first time I've done a live show and I really had a lot of fun. Thank you so much Catherine and Sarah for having me! I'd definitely love to do something like this again sometime. :D 
I want to say sorry to all the watchers who were waiting for me to answer their questions, we received so many good ones too, but we totally ran out of air time so we couldn't cover any at all, I'm really sorry. T_T I promise I'll try to do a make up ask-me-anything session later on after I figure out the logistics of streaming, hopefully that will work. Once again thank you everyone~~ <3 

Ichi Soundtrack, I has it.

I really wanted to watch the movie when they screened it during the Japan Film Fest here in Singapore, but alas time didn't permit, so I was really happy to have the opportunity to see it a couple weeks back.

Totally fell in love with the scores during the show, this makes the first CD I'd bought in a very long time. I wouldn't say the movie's so incredible that I'd rave it as a must-watch, but it was enjoyable enough and Haruka Ayase was super badass, I think that more than makes it for me. :D :D :D

Here's the trailer:

While combing through pictures for my upcoming exhibitions I stumbled upon this really really old set of pictures I did with Arissa back in 2007. It was for my submission for the Liquid City anthology put together by Sonny Liew, but as life would have it, with my non-existent story-telling skills, it just didn't happen the way I wanted and I dropped out much to Sonny's dismay.

But for some reason, when I looked through the set again for the nth time yesterday, it suddenly dawned on me that Arissa was extremely beautiful in those pictures. Incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful.

Like, I mean, incredible.

So I tried processing the images a little, and it was like watching a miracle unfold.

I found it so unbelievable how I'd never seen those photographs before, and had a major wtf moment that lasted pretty much the whole day as I tried coming to terms with the discovery.

Point is, it makes me very happy to have wonderful unpublished images to add to the collection I'd be presenting for my show in June at the Japan Creative Center. I may include 1-2 of them as previews during the April show for Fashion Fest which has yet to be finalized as I'm not sure of the installation arrangements yet.

The whole episode really cheered me up from this minor depression I'd been having about my work. Now I'm just stressed out over whether to go to London for a job this month or not. Long flights really, really make me ill.

Canon: Be Empowered Campaign Behind the Scenes Video

I hate seeing and listening to myself in videos, but I think the gorgeous girls make up for my fail. :D

Will try to find time to post photos from the shoot later on, I'm still having this terrible headache that makes me feel like I don't have enough oxygen in my brain or something. Argh, why's the flight from L.A. so horrendously long. T_T