Han Yang’s Photographic Eye

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.

See more of Han Yangs work in our lat­est issue avail­able here and at the below links: