Years before graduating from University, Beijing-born and Toronto-raised photographer Jessica Zhao, an emerging young talent whose work is inspired by multi-cultures, were miserably struggling about her future in fashion. After years of time commitment and efforts on chasing her fashion dream, Jessica has gradually found her path along the way. “When I was working as a fashion intern several years ago, some people had different thoughts about me trying to do multiple things in fashion. But I knew I could do it, and I followed my heart,” says this young photographer who recently had her fashion editorials featured in Harper’s Bazaar China and elle.tw. “Do what you love, the rest will follow,” she says smiling.
View in FANIQUE Magazine Issue 3 HERE
FANIQUE: How do you introduce and describe your photography style?
Jessica: I don’t really define my photography style. I am extremely picky about colour and lighting, though. Most of my work are inspired by bold and retro paintings. I believe a wonderful team creates a beautiful photo shoot. So I like communicating with my team and coming up with as many proposals as I can before each photo shoot. Plus, I am always willing to experiment new ideas!
FANIQUE: How did you initially engaged in the fashion industry?
Jessica: When I was a freshman in college, I was struggling at that time —that I didn’t really know how and where to start. So, I bought a camera and started to transfer my dream visions into reality, through images. At first, taking photos was just my hobby. Later, my work was soon discovered by other people in this industry, which really encouraged me to move forward. “Do what you love, the rest will follow,” this is the quote I truly believe in and want to share it with everyone who follow their dreams.
FANIQUE: What is the dream you want to achieve?
Jessica: I hope my work, either photographs or in other mediums, can inspire and encourage more people.
FANIQUE: One of your fashion editorials is recently featured in elle.tw. How was the experience like when producing the editorial?
Jessica: The photo shoot was taking place in a beautiful beach called Camber sand where is 3 hours drive from London, United Kingdom. The team was really nice and friendly, but there was a surprise moment that all our equipment and clothes were almost flooded in water while we were all busy shooting. All of us were screaming, laughing, and then taking things away. Fortunately, we handled it at the end. Also, we had a pretty cloudy weather that day. It didn’t look that nice and sunny as it showed in the final edited images. The perfect natural sunlights only lasted for around 30 seconds, so we had to be very fast taking advantage of the lighting and then wait for another round to come.
FANIQUE: What is the biggest challenge of being a photographer to you? And how do you handle that?
Jessica: There are always ups and downs that everyone has to go through. I never really feel challenging of being a photographer, because I know that when a tough mission is accomplished, I will grow from there as well.
FANIQUE: When getting less creative at a certain period of time, where and how do you get new inspirations?
Jessica: Travel! I love East London in the UK. Even it is a little grungy for some people, I feel exciting and inspiring by just walking around the street there.
FANIQUE: You own so many different talents in fashion, like photography, styling, and editing. How do you feel about being a multi-talent in the industry?
Jessica: I think I’m fortunate enough to find my passion in fashion. Working in this industry is all about being creative to me. I always like to think about interesting things and look outside the box. When I was working as a fashion intern several years ago, some people had different thoughts about me trying to do multiple things in fashion. But I knew I could do it, and I followed my heart. “Don’t let other people tell you what you can’t do,” that’s very important to me.
FANIQUE: From your own experiences, how could a photographer get more exposure in fashion?
Jessica: Working hard, and be patient. People always love to work with you if you are humble and hardworking. When someone offers you an opportunity, don’t and never fail to meet their expectations!
FANIQUE: What’s the standard process like when you choose the models?
Jessica: A model card, also called a comp card, is a good reference to start with. If you have the exact idea of what the image will look like for the shoot, that makes the selection process much easier and clearer. So to make it easier, I usually talk with the makeup artists and hair stylist as much as I can, because they are the best ones to ask for suggestions.
FANIQUE: Most of your fashion editorials are outdoor shoot. Share one or two your personal tips about outdoor photography with us.
Jessica: I shoot with both studio and natural lighting. When shooting outdoor, lighting changes constant and fast, so it is important to keep your eyes on the weather, always. Also, I’m very sensitive to any change of lighting in every single photograph. Preparation means a lot to me. The more I prepare and communicate with my editorial team, the better the images turn out to be. A photo shoot, to me, 50% is about preparation, 30% replies on the shooting day, and the other 20% are the surprises you never know. Expect the unexpected things, that’s what I do.
FANIQUE: How do you define FANIQUE?
Jessica: FANIQUE is a unique platform for cool people to show their talent!