As a prominent female photographer in your field, how do you empower other women with your work?
Empowerment is education and freedom. Personally, being a visible woman in a male-dominated industry shows both my female subjects and audience that I am in control of my own possibilities. My message is to soldier on, be unafraid of pursuing the same, and forge your own path.
What makes a photograph iconic?
Fashion photography is a vehicle to carry and convey beauty, to chronicle the fashion of our era, and how people choose to express themselves. An iconic photograph comes with a compelling story: visually, the image strikes you deep in your heart. When you encounter it, you experience strong emotions—joy, fear, wonder, and even pain.
You used to represent Singapore in air rifle shooting competitions. How does that experience affect what you do now as a fashion photographer?
There is a certain rhythm in the way we breathe, with the rifle sights following the rocking motion of our bodies while taking aim. In the same way, this applies to movements on set, from the models’ poses to the moments their lashes flutter, the flow of fabrics to slight shifts of hair carried by the wind. There is a special instant where everything can be perfect, and air rifle shooting taught me how to find the rhythm to that perfect moment.
As someone who was born in China and grew up in Singapore, how has your upbringing contributed to who you are today?
As a kid, I was entrenched in Chinese poetry and art, and much of this has found its way into my work, regardless of the subject. Growing up in Singapore, my earliest exposure to the arts was local Japanese anime and visual rock music groups—I even played in a band! I paid tribute to these Japanese fantasy artists in ‘Motherland Chronicles’.
What are some of your biggest career moments?
My first big campaign moment was with Mercedes-Benz Taiwan, and since then I have worked with Montblanc, Vogue Japan, to name a few.
Tell us about your style references.
I am heavily influenced by Pre-Raphaelite artists such as John William Waterhouse, and Japanese fantasy illustrators such as Yoshitaka Amano, Jun Suemi, and Fujiwara Kaoru.
How does being creative help convey your individuality?
It may sound counter-intuitive, but hard work has been the defining factor of my success. All of my creations are based on something. It is the hard work of ingesting endless amount of media, inspiration, experiences, and then taking that mix to create new, interesting works. Creativity will be limited without a strong foundation or deep bank of knowledge. Don’t stop learning!
Find out more about Zhang Jingna’s work here: www.zhangjingna.com