I have been a big fan of fashion photographer Zhang “Zemotion” Jingna for several years ever since I discovered her work on DeviantArt. With a clientele list that includes Canon, Mercedes Benz, Montblanc, Wacom, and Sony, and with published images in such magazines like Elle and Harper Bazaar, Zhang is definitely one of the young rising stars in fashion and commercial photography.
Her work can be described as painterly, etherial, and conceptually-driven.
But even with her very busy schedule shooting and travelling back and forth between Los Angeles and New York as well abroad, Zhang still finds time to commit a weekly personal photography project with fellow artist Tobias Kwan (Tobiee) called Motherland Chronicles.
We caught up with Zhang Jingna and asked her about the story behind her personal project. Zhang originally started the Motherland Chronicles as a weekly exercise, but as Toby and her began to work more on it, they start to develop the story, the conceptual world, and the characters that are part of that world.
For Zhang, Motherland Chronicle was a creative outlet for the images and themes that she loved as a child, such as “Japanese anime and other fantasy-influenced images.” Additionally, unlike her commercial shoots where she often works quickly under the client’s deadline, with Motherland Chronicles Zhang can take 5 to 8 hours to really hone in and tweak each image’s concept and detail.
For Zhang, the personal project “trains her eyes and aesthetic in a different way than when doing fashion and commercial work.”
There are challenges, of course. Zhang states that “the most difficult part is probably the time constraint of [the project] being a weeklies – having to think up concepts, produce, shoot and edit while trying to do a few of them at the same time can get stressful.”
Motherland Chronicles #34 – In the Secret Garden
One of her latest images for Chronicles, titled In the Secret Garden, is a good example of where her busy schedule only gave her just one day to literally build a shoot from the ground up. The inspiration for this shoot came from the 10th-13th century Russian fashion that she learned about recently.
Once she had an idea of where to start, she first bought the marigolds in the morning from the LA Flower Market. Afterwards, she spent the rest of the day planning the shoot as well as securing the model, hairstylist, and makeup artist.
And by the next morning, she was ready to shoot.
To learn more about her inspirations for the shoot as well as the details behind the logistics, you can read her blog post for the “In the Secret Garden” photoshoot.
More Images from Motherland Chronicles
Here are several more images from Zhang Jingna’s Motherland Chronicles project. If you want to see how she planned out each shot, you can click on the title of each image in order to visit each image’s behind-the-scene story. Additionally, you can also visit Motherlandchronicles.com to keep up with Zhang Jingna’s latest Motherland images, as well as Tobie’s accompanying paintings for the project.