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.

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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.

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PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING // Margaret Zhang

PHOTO ASSISTANT // Nicol Mouton

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

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.