We are Stardust

We are golden: on the one man band… and editorial firsts.

Following my Picasso Baby moment earlier this week, a lot of you have been querying the reasons, the motivations, the complications and more than anything, the apparent idiocy of working alone – that is, shooting, styling and modeling in one hit comme ça. Indeed, most of my friends in the photography and styling trades declare me batsh*t crazy. You can’t possibly be doing your best work when you have that much on your mind, the say. Having a digital assistant will change your life, they say.

And that may be so. This time next year, it is entirely possible that I’ll be working with a few more hands on deck. Certainly, for this shoot, we were on a four hour time limit, I was a little too ambitious with the number of frames and looks I wanted to shoot, and having Sophie there was enormously helpful on a timing and logistics front. But, at the end of the day, your work is a reflection of your brand and your person. Your name is attached to something that is going out in a public domain, and you need to be proud of it. Working with people you respect and complement is essential, as is an overarching vision of exactly how you want your project to look. Leave some room to move, sure, but with those baselines in place, it’s hard to go wrong unless it was never going to work in the first place.

Or if it rains. Or something.

All of the above applied for this editorial story shot one steamy day in Auburn for ELLE magazine and Swarovski. Self-timer with yourself is one moderately awkward, but manageable, thing. Self-shooting with two other models was as much a first as this whole editorial experience. Thank god for Liv and Yifan‘s habit of nailing it. I honestly believe, though, that I would not have been as happy with the final product, had I not been overseeing the camera and styling work from start to finish. Not on a matter of skill – far from it. There are hundreds of more experienced, more exceptional photographers and stylists than I. Rather, it always surprises me how human interpretation can twist a vision in the eyes of another equally capable person, and how truly difficult it is to communicate what you’re visualising in a short space of time, without a creepy bonding process, most likely involving interpretive dance.

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Or ‘referencing’ somebody else’s work. That’s a debate for another time.

Here, we have the heart of the matter. You can never be too good to steam clothes. You can never be too important to tape shoes. Don’t underestimate how much you can take on. Don’t put yourself in a position of complete reliance on others. Your results are only as solid as your process is streamlined. And the sweat and tears you put in (no blood please). Never forget that.

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About

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.

 

For project enquiries Tess.Stillwell@img.com
General enquiries bookings@margaretzhang.com.au