CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Yang Yang
What does it take to become a top fashion photographer? Chen Man should know. Since 2004, Chen has held exhibitions in Beijing, Paris, Tokyo and Moscow and is becoming increasingly conscious of the recognition of photography in the art world. Her visual sources include many Chinese celebrities as well as David Beckham. She has done advertisements for Procter & Gamble, Sony Ericsson, Adidas, Nike and Loreal. On today's how, we'll follow our reporter Damin to meet this top Chinese photographer.
Every day, photographer Chen Man arrives at her "Studio 6" at around 11 a.m. By then, her staff is usually busy setting up backdrops for the day's shooting sessions.
Chen's reputation for strong colors has won her prestigious advertising assignments from Procter & Gamble, Sony Ericsson, Adidas, Nike and Loreal.
Her collaboration with David Beckham on his Motorola MOTO campaign in 2006 is perhaps her best-known advertisement.
"His face is in perfect symmetry, and that makes him look perfect, no matter from the front or side. It's actually rare to have a model like David. It's usually the case that people's faces are not really symmetric, their one eyebrow may be higher than the other, and their one hand is relatively bigger than the other. For those guys, they'd better not face the camera with their front."
Born in Beijing, Chen graduated with a degree in photography from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, one of the country's top art academies. She made a huge impact when she took photos for the covers of the Chinese fashion magazine "Vision" between 2003 and 2007.
Chen has also photographed fashion shoots for the Chinese publications of "Vogue," "Elle," "Harper's Bazaar," "Marie Claire" and "Cosmopolitan" as well as the French publication "Preference".
Chen confesses that in her early years her academic performance was far from good. But she loved drawing from the beginning and started to learn it when she was only two years old.
Besides this, Chen says she has another special talent.
"Ever since I was a child, I had this urge to create beauty. When I was watching TV and changing the channels, I looked at different people's faces and started thinking what would make them look better."
It's said that Chen can always bring out the unexpected in those she photographs.
"My shooting subjects are all actors. They know how to express their emotions in front of the camera. I think I'm very sensitive to their known emotions and even to the emotions hidden inside. I can use my camera to frame the feeling onto the picture."
Chen always says that every photographer lives a different life. Like cooking, photography differs according to everyone's life experiences.
Chen's own style has evolved over time. She divides it into three periodsí¬her college days when she was photographing for "Vision" magazine, and her style was upbeat and glamorous; then extreme simplicity with up-close facial shots. But now, she attempts to organize her pictures so that they reflect herself and her thoughts. Chen says she does this by incorporating more related elements in her photos.
"Fashion should be about daily life. It's not to simply replicate the images of our lives, but to incorporate the life elements and details of our lives. Like in Beijing, we used to share a public bathhouse and toilet when we lived in the courtyard; but now we use individual bathrooms in our apartments. And that we used to ride bicycles, the well-known ones like the brands Forever or Phoenix. But now we drive our own cars to and from home. These are all elements for reminiscing and capturing fashion."
Last year, Chen produced a playfully inventive series of fashion photographs for internationally acclaimed Chinese model Lu Yan. Featuring an exaggerated hairdo, shiny leggings, old mobile phones and the Great Wall, the color photographs show scenes from the early 1990s when most Chinese regarded possessing a mobile phone as the height of fashion and wealth.
Putting much thought into her pursuit of art, Chen says she believes the duty of a photographer is more than just pressing a shutter button. She has made her mark when it comes to styling models, setting backdrops, taking photos and processing the final products on the computer.
Chen's portraits of celebrity figures such as Barbie Hsu and Dee Hsu can be both weird and sexual. Her portrait of Zhou Xun shows the internationally acclaimed Chinese actress and singer wearing horns to indicate her unique temperament.
By putting her subjects in somewhat sensuous poses, Chen uses women's curves and postures to present them as tender and vigorous images.
Now well-established in photography circles, Chen does all her work at her company Studio 6.
She says Studio 6 provides a place where she can concentrate on her commercial photography and sustain her artistic creations.
Traditional Guqin The guqin, a seven-stringed plucked zither, is China's oldest stringed instrument.
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