Julian Song Wan Jie is a Shanghai-based film photographer asserting a powerful presence through the camera’s lens. In his latest project, Paradise Drama Club, the photographer takes us on a journey against the staged backdrop of a sky-blue day filled with fluffy white clouds. Deadpan expressions, apathetic faces, high-fashion uniforms punctuate the series of photographs and evoke a defiant sense of coolness amidst the Shanghai models.
“I got the idea for the shoot from a music video from a Chinese band called Wu Yue Tian and then combined this idea with visual influences from the Chinese artist Fang LiJun,” the photographer tells It’s Nice That. The artist creates an alternate reality where the blue sky setting allows its people to go about undisturbed and in turn, become “everything”. Julian further explains his reasoning for the project saying, “You can also be one of them! Just be yourself!”
The shoot demonstrates Julian’s versatile capabilities as a photographer. In particular, the stills from the “sporting” scene pack a punch with visual impact. The sense of perspective and striking facial expressions capture movement and intensity; and wouldn’t go amiss in any major sportswear campaign. Alternatively, the school-like set of classroom photos displays Julian’s portraiture abilities. Candidly stark, the portraits reveal the individual attitudes of each model. The black and white uniform allows each and every distinct face to take centre-stage; a commonality in all of Julian’s photography that exhibits the poignant looks of striking faces.
To reach his crisp aesthetic, Julian “experimented a lot”. On his creative process he says, “I always remind myself to do something different” but essentially, his work comes back to representing ideas from basic aspects of life such as desire or work. Since leaving school at the tender age of 13, Julian has tried several different careers helping him to expand a multitude of ideas that can be expressed through photography. Growing up, “there [was] no art in my village” says Julian, “me and my friend from the village grew up watching music videos over again and again.” Music videos have fundamentally shaped Julian’s creative process and he still uses them as inspiration for ideas today. Without a doubt these references have impacted the way Julian captures still life through photography and his shots are filled with power and meaning marking the beginning of an exciting creative career ahead.
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