Interviewed by Andrew Kimber
Han Yang is a visual artist, fashion photographer, and creative director. Yang graduated from MA Fashion Photography at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Combined with abstract and surreal elements, her work has strong visual appeal, rich and delicate emotions. She grasps at emotion and psychology in her work, embodying the inner world of the characters she depicts through unique fashion visual language. She has won the SONY young photographer award, Nikon Cup and Qaidam Cup.
Andrew Kimber: You shot the wonderful story, ‘A Deep Blue Night’ for our third issue, ‘Artistry’, with our talented Creative Director, Tess Savina. Could you tell our readers how this collaboration came about and the process of how you created such a magical editorial?
Han Yang: Firstly, I really appreciate Tess contacting me last August. When she asked me if I am interested in a collaboration with the ‘Art’ theme, I was very happy. Having seen her work before, I knew she had a fantastic aesthetic. When we talked about the theme, we were very excited and passionate about it.
I was not sure I could travel back to London for the shoot dates due to COVID-19. Tess told me perhaps we could have a “distance collaboration” and as an alternative, shoot something in China — it was a great idea. We immediately hit it off with each other. We started to talk about how to progress with the shoot, including discussions regarding the theme, model, makeup, hair and potential stylists. In the past, I always organised a photoshoot by myself; in this collaboration, she provided me with help and support during the collaboration. She made me feel that one plus one is greater than two, in particular, she was very respectful of my creativity and gave me a lot of space to create. I believe our experience and pursuit of art and beauty are on the same channel. For instance, we choose the same outfit and same photo for similar reasons during the collaboration; it was an amazing feeling and experience.
I also thank OVERDUE for providing this opportunity to collaborate. I really like the style of this magazine — it is of a high level and there is clearly deep thought put into every theme and shoot. It was my pleasure to work with every member of the magazine, such as the Editor-in-Chief, Andrew Kimber, and Casting Director, Studio Bajek. I believe that a good editorial comes from the effort and talent of a team.
AK: As a photographer, it takes a long time to have a recognisable voice within your images — you appear to have achieved that. Did it take a long time to find that voice, how did it develop over time?
HY: This is really a good question. I have thought about this question many times. Until now, I am still not sure if I have found a recognisable voice, but before every shoot, I am sure of what I want to achieve. In the past few years, I have been doing some commercial shoots for my livelihood, it is only in the past two years that I started to shoot personal projects. Obviously, my personal projects have my own strong, emotional colour. I realise that I started a bit late, but I have always had a great passion for photography.
AK: Do you see yourself in your imagery?
HY: Yes, I think every picture is myself.
AK: Please tell me about your process of directing models.
HY: To be honest, most editorial models are fresh talents. It depends on how lucky we are to meet a new model with high savvy. In any case, I usually make ‘A’ and ‘B’ plans. ‘A’ is to set the story and atmosphere for the shoot. Some models understand what you want and will accurately express the story, however, some are not able to express the theme of the story. In the latter case, I will use plan B. I will show the way I understand it and let the model execute it according to what I express. In every shoot, the creatives put a lot of time, energy and talent into the process so I need to be responsible for this shoot. Our goal is to present a good result to reflect our story concept.
AK: Where do you find your inspiration for photoshoots?
HY: I like to watch some literary reviews and movies, and I also like to go to museums and galleries. More often, I will draw inspiration from life for my shoots. For example, discovering special scenery on the side of the road, flowers, shops, spaces, decorations, and so on.
AK: Where in the world inspires you most?
HY: I haven’t been to many places. I have been to Paris, New York, London, Australia and Melbourne. Each place has its own characteristics. They can bring me different feelings and inspirations. I like the romance of Paris, the diversity of London, the modernity of New York, the climate of Australia, and of course the oriental culture of China.
AK: Everything has changed dramatically over the last year — do you feel the industry has changed too and if so, how?
HY: Yes, this industry is always changing. In recent years, changes have also been very rapid. The transition from paper media to social media has been very fast. Last year’s epidemic may have only exacerbated this change. More people, young people, choose to express their attitude towards fashion and understanding of beauty through online forms. This industry is facing unprecedented innovation. For example, 3D fashion, virtual reality, and some creative artists are also challenging some of the standards and redefinitions of beauty through different digital art forms.
AK: What are your aspirations for the future? Are there any areas you would like to develop or look into?
HY: Currently, I am applying for a PhD position for my future career. I expect that I can develop my technical and research skills in the fashion industry and academic area. In the future, I hope that I can work as a researcher as well as a photography practitioner.