It is surprising to hear that Zhong Lin is a self-taught photographer given how immaculately polished her output is. Working primarily in fashion editorial, the photographer captures sultry and evocative scenes through a cinematic lens. Accentuating deep and silky colours, Zhong’s latest photographic series titled #bighairdontlie explores the concept of bullying – but a “more optimistic path rather than the negative side of it”, Zhong tells It’s Nice That.
In collaboration with the fashion stylist Yii Ooi, the series depicts women interacting with one another; united in their emphatically large and curly hair. “It’s always about unity,” explains the China-based photographer, “sometimes life tends to punch you in the face” but “by uniting, all negativity can fade away”. Through dynamically strong stances, Zhong’s photography evokes feelings of unification through hand gestures and poses. Though each image is unique in its individual composition, they express different perceptions of unity through intricate details such as outstretched arms or a collectively lingering eye contact with the camera. The attention to make-up, hair, styling and pose allow Zhong to fully express her photographic artistry; capturing a narrative of camaraderie highlighted against the block-coloured backdrops.
Zhong started her career by “experimenting with film.” She goes on to say, “my primary goal is to capture the moment in between shots. When I’m not on set shooting fashion editorials or campaigns, I travel around taking portraits of others, exploring different lifestyles.” She has an eye for documenting delicate articulations within one look. Portraits with gusts of wind indenting the models’ cheeks showcase Zhong’s artistic interpretation of bullying. The models appear to be taken aback by these blows to the cheek, but the startling beauty within the photograph, in turn, creates the same reaction within the audience thanks to its compositional power.
“I love capturing the subtleties of everyday life,” says Zhong. “There’s always life behind things, by capturing it within an image, it helps me remember the moment.” And this effect is vividly felt by the viewers of #bighairdontlie. The models seem to be photographed mid-thought and mid-action, distilling a feeling into one image. “I don’t usually have an exact creative process,” adds the photographer. Though her work often involves fashion, Zhong “avoids looking into related images, but it’s also [her] job to understand what’s going on in the industry”. Consequently, Zhong balances between understanding what’s occurring in fashion while “not entirely sinking into it”.
She additionally says: “I would say my creative process has no particular process but I’m always ready to be observant.” Zhong always carries a sketchbook beside her as she “never knows what ideas might pop out anytime”. From watching TV to eating breakfast, the photographer is prepared to jot down any ideas that come her way, at any time or place. And with an ever-changing vision that currently sees “a slight touch of black humour” in her work, Zhong finally comments on how her creative vision strives to “keep the inner message [of the work] subtle”; striving for the audience to understand the inner message themselves, rather than have it explained to them.
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