Sitters unknown

Leibovitz, Dali, Penn and Wilde would all agree: a sitting goes one of two ways. You either receive a constructed projection of how your subject would like for you and the universe at large to perceive them, or the photographer or artist in control projects their interpretation of the person onto the image.










regrettable that we no longer have a photographer document the evolving faces of our families year to year. Here we are behind our screens, sniffling at how beautiful the aging process of the Brown Sisters is, and yet continue to document the people in our lives with blurry front-facing lenses with sub-par filters.

Speaking of authenticity, in the wake of the whole media storm (and Insta-fame panic) surrounding the perceived realities of Instagram, a lot of you been emailing/Tumblr-messaging me as to my opinion on the matter.

So, I thought I’d just share here the full statement I gave to the Harper’s BAZAAR team for the piece they did discussing the whole Essena O’Neill internet mess:

Instagram, like any other digital platform, is what you make it. It can be used as an authentic vehicle for sharing your work, skills, opinion and outlook. The personal digital brand that grows from that, in conjunction with the actual work you produce (if any), doesn’t need to be obsessively edited and staged. It’s a real projection of your work and life from your perspective, with the obvious omissions of really basic privacy protection (for instance, where you live, too much information about your personal life). My entire career and livelihood isn’t vested in this transient medium – far from it. Instagram is merely another platform for sharing what I do, to supplement the finished work that ends up on Shine By Three, or whatever publication or brand has booked me to do a job – here’s the lighting set-up for this editorial I shot, here’s the mood board in my office for a collection I worked on, here’s the jacaranda I walked past this morning on my way to class.

[As I’ve stressed here countless times] it isn’t commercially motivated – on the contrary, I have a very public policy of not engaging in any kind of paid posting or even advertising on my website.

At most, it’s a personal branding exercise.

If you choose to forgo all of the above for a quick dollar with sponsored posts and product-for-post deals, then absolutely – it’s shallow, short-sighted, unsustainable, and I would say, a pretty irresponsible abuse of what was once an interested audience.

Most of the commentary surrounding “bloggers” and “Instagram-ers” relies on the unfounded assumption that everyone operates in the same way, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Some do just capitalise the engagement on their posts in return for cash, tea, coffee scrubs, or dresses. Some are the face of an operation where the real talent lies behind the scenes. Some use their profile as a means of promoting their own brands or products. Indeed, there’s a market for everything. But we can’t go dragging anyone with any kind of digital presence through the dirt when just one form of influencer discovers that there is no longevity in what they do.

Two cents.

Now, back to the books.

The cram is so real.






HAIR // Erin Shaw @ DLM

MAKE-UP // Tobi Henney @ DLM

FLORALS // Myra Perez @ Mi Violeta

MODELS // Chandra @ JDM, Natarsha @ IMG, Nicholas @ IMG, Raenee @ Chic, Talisa @ IMG

Styling notes: models wear archive Romance Was Born, archive Sarina Suriano couture, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Osman and Jennifer Behr from Désordre boutique, Christie Nicolaides, Carla Zampatti, Third Form, Holly Ryan, Ford + Harris.

Special thanks to SWISSE and Matt Martino for having me onboard for this project

  • fixatedfaiyaz

    Where do I even begin. Those photos totally blew. my. mind. These are definitely my favourites from what you’ve done so far.

    Also, totally agree with your views on the whole social media situation recently. I think it’s unfair how she generalised everyone on social media and reduced them to all being the same as she was.

  • Jennifer Chong

    First of all, your photography skills continually amaze me – you really inspire me to keep practising and developing my own skill.

    And second of all, like I’m sure a lot of your readers, I agree with your view on this whole discussion around the legitimacy of Instagrammers/bloggers out there. It frustrated me a great deal when her article came out because when I read it, I didn’t relate to any of it, and I am one of those people just trying to share my interests with the world. The whole “if a person has tagged a company in their photo, it was paid” comment really annoyed me – I’m sorry, but Louis Vuitton did NOT pay me to wear their scarf – I spent my hard-earned dollars on that one piece – it was not for free!

    So thank you, Margaret. For being true and honest.


  • Kymberley Mcmurray

    What a gorgeous collection of photos!

  • Amazing designs!

    Kisses from


  • Stephanie

    That is incridible amazing! I love it <3 | JOIN WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY

  • I agree about family portraits. They are literally extinct. I really can’t remember having any.

  • Both you and Zanita have wonderful thoughts on the Essena debate. As a photographer, I believe the same thing. Social media is a form of sharing your art and supplementing your own creativity. Also, these photos are beautiful!

    -Sarah | Sarah Michiko

    • Geneva

      omg pls don’t compare zhang to zanita – that zanita girl is INTOLERABLE!? All she talks about is herself!

      • x12047620

        hahah THIS

  • Stunning photographs as alwaysMargaret!

    I agree – for a lot of photographers, social media is a platform to share portfolio photos or behind the scenes snaps. It is only as ‘fake’ as you make it I guess.

    Another great piece Margaret!

  • Hi Margaret. You have a really good writing, I love your words and work.

    Check out why Jeremy Scott partners with Barbie, our childhood most precious toy

    Follow me on

    Bests! xxx

  • Lovey Fleming

    Incredible styling, makeup, photography, and voice!


  • Catherine Wen Xi Xiang

    Margaret…. You are really, truly, one of my favorite bloggers/ photographer/ many-hats-wearing people. As a student/ researcher who is trying to pick up photography again and start a fashion blog, you are truly inspirational. And you have a way with words that is so unique. And I agree with you — digital platforms are what you make of it. I’ve found blogging to be quite liberating — a little corner on the vast web to share a piece of you that you rarely get to share with the world. Anyway, thank you so much for doing what you do!

  • Wow the photos are so damn amazing, I think that you are always breaking the limits and reaching new heights with each shoot. Do I still need to mention how good you’re with words, so on point. (Y) Love you <3


  • Nutcha Panvichean

    a very rebellious family shoot indeed
    I absolutely love the color palette: mood contrast, yet there’s something very romantic about it.

    love all of your work!

  • carissa
  • Words are not enough. This photo set is amazing <3

    xoxo Aela

  • Same here, the cram is real with my current law exams… you know what else is real? You! Love your opinion on this whole instagram ordeal. Also the studies about the 4min eye contact was extremely fascinating!! Thanks for the share, that’s the best thing about your articles and work, always leaves some value with your readers, I go away with something extra, having learnt something new or made a new thought being inspired by your words and work. <3

  • I love these photos, and the concept behind what you tried to portray. I have loved watching the progression of your skills over the years and really appreciate your dedication to not only good imagery but also excellent insights as well (i.e. see one of my favorites Boobs ). As for the whole “Essena O’Neill internet mess” as you so eloquently called it, I really couldn’t agree more (My brief coverage on the topic can be found here). While I agree the issue which she is calling out, deriving self worth from social media, is an issue that needs to be discussed; I felt the execution was poor and indirectly threw mud on anyone using social media legitimately. You can’t ban all cars because some cars were used to hurt people, they are just a means of transportation. Social media is a means for publication and how you use it is completely up to you.

    As always, I greatly enjoy your work and thank you for being so upfront about so many topics


  • Shivan Patel (Gathum)

    WOW love the concept and the styling!

    just beautiful!.

    check me out

  • love how this project turned out, and I agree on your two cents about social media =)

  • Style hue

    The pictures looks amazing ! The styling too. Reminds me of Frida Kahlo <3


  • Great photos (as always- kind of a given comment by now) and great insight. To me it’s no terribly surprising that prole who run their blogs & instragram accounts solely (or mostly solely) on the basis of “get free coffee scrub- post about it” get burnt out. It’s partially exciting to imagine getting free swag to just do a sponsored post, but I think I would feel so hollow…I think it also breeds laziness with a lot of bloggers. I’m a huge fan of Shini (she helped with your site, right?) and Alice Gao because they do the whole “sponsored posts/vacations” but their editorial and photography skills are actually on point and they’re creating stories- not the formulaic stuff you see about every blogger who received some detox tea. And that also touches on another point- I never get people who have photos mainly of themselves and someone lauds them for their photography skills. Uh, that would be the photographer (likely the photographer boyfriend) ;) hehe. Musing/rant over. But I think it’s important to have these discussions on the “blogging” world. It holds people accountable & to higher standards.


  • Weston James Palmer

    Photography – I’m beyond impressed Marg. #phenomenal I was listening to Enya “only Time” while reading this and it really got me. It is funny how this whole social thing works and the trends that are starting to emerge. People lose focus that it’s the work we care about viewing and falling in love with. Yes, I have been paid by brands, but I only work with them if I love them and allow them to support “my” vision rather than theirs. Those deals made are extremely hard to find, but if you stay true to who you are and stick to your guns, most of the time they will go for it. #2cents … Keep killing it MZ ;)

  • WOWOWOWOW – you are such an inspiration! The quality and creativity of this shoot is outstanding! JUST stunning, and very artistic and sensual. The color combinations are so visually striking. LOVE your work!

  • I don’t know how you do it, but your pictures are always stunning and so professional edited.
    It’s inspiring! I also love your opinion about certain things and I totally agree with you.

  • Linn

    Stunning.. that’s all i can say. Beautiful photography and the concept is just amazing!


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


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