Fashion

Snap Happy

by Justin Cheong
03.02.2017
We grill the multi-talented photographer, writer, stylist and creative director about her new book, In the Youth of Our Fury: A Volume of Photo Essays

What inspired the content of this book?
As the title suggests, I think a lot of my peers can certainly identify with an inherent "rage" at a broken system, in many regards, that has had an increasingly personal impact over the past decade – that is, the current global political climate, the state of capitalism in the western world, and cultural conflict in the world at large. There is hope there too, though, that new schools of thought on a range of areas effecting our generation are finally coming to maturity and actionable fruition, and the foundation of these are in a fundamental "fury" with the outdated and counterproductive status quo. This was the inspiration I took for the title of my book, and the photo essays therein, each of which focus on an "inherent rage" or a responsive avenue of actionable change, slowly coming to the fore.

 

The book is made up of “12 visual essays addressing the range of pressures and challenges faced by members of today’s rapidly shifting social landscape”. Could you give an example of how this is achieved?
One of the key ideas highlighted in my foreword, and subsequently by one of the photo essays in the book, is sustainability, and the manner in which that conversation has played out in the past. The approach hasn’t always been in the most effectively targeted way, given how inundated our generation is with irrelevant and emotionally-blackmailing information. Rather than giving individuals a reason to appreciate everything that we have to lose on the back of environmental neglect, sustainability currently exists as a faceless cause that an individual doesn’t necessarily feel that they can make a significant impact on - a functional disconnect between call to action and appreciation for the beauty in our surrounds. In response to this sentiment, the photo essay Chasing Rainbows seeks to demonstrate that invisibility in the face of incredible beauty, representing a visual exploration of those ideas.

"Visual communication does not enforce the individual’s opinions on its readers, it allows some room for imagination and the provocation of thought." MARGARET ZHANG

A lot of blood, sweat and tears always goes into a creative project. What were some of the challenges you faced when creating this book?
I’d say the largest challenge was in that I shot the entire book in three and a half weeks, and then edited all of the essays in the space of two weeks. We shot every day with 5am call times - I’m impressed with all of my team for tolerating my delirium throughout the entire process. Definitely not the way that people usually produce books!

 

What were some of the highlights of the creative process?
Many of the locations were tied to Australia’s unique natural landscape, which was so refreshing for me, coming back to Australia to shoot, in comparison to living in New York’s concrete grid. Locations like Joost Bakker’s family farm in Monbulk, just outside Melbourne, with it’s 100% waste free ingenuity and the fact that we had Joost himself showing us around and sharing his passion and knowledge – it all brought such an extra dimension and depth to that photo essay.

 


What can visual imagery achieve that the written word cannot? (And vice versa.)
Visual communication does not enforce the individual’s opinions on its readers, it allows some room for imagination and the provocation of thought. On the other side, prose is a clearer instigator for debate and conversation, and a greater call to action, should that be the purpose of the medium.

You’re a multi-hyphenate (consultant, photographer, writer, stylist, creative director etc.), so what would you like to be referred to as?
All of the above. 

 

Would you consider yourself an influencer? Do you think “influencer” is a bad word?
Of course, labels attract particular cultural connotations that cannot necessarily be a blanket term to cover what a lot of young creatives today do - the wide range of skills that they have. 

 

What are your thoughts on the whole “fashion bloggers and influencers are heralding the death of style” debacle?
I think the more accurate debacle is “people who get paid to wear brands that they have no opinions on, are heralding the death of style”, but that has always been the case. Style is an inherent, sartorial expression of how you interpret culture and music and social pressures, not a cash-for-comment game in clothes horse-ing.

"Style is an inherent, sartorial expression of how you interpret culture and music and social pressures, not a cash-for-comment game in clothes horse-ing."

What are your expectations of and plans for 2017?
Working on this book and attempting to stay objectively informed on recent world events has really made me realise how much information I had been forced to consume while I was studying, and how funnelled my view on the world has become simply by virtue of the calibre of human I interact with in my day to day, the specific publications and broadcast platforms I elect to absorb, and how that algorithmically plays into the abridged version of ‘reality' I therefore receive. As such, my 2017 will be very much about taking a step back and forcing myself to explore more diverse perspectives, immersing myself in unfamiliar cultures and returning to the fundamentals of the visual and performing art forms that have shaped my career thus far.

Our February 2017 issue has the theme of “chemistry”. What does the word “chemistry” mean to you and how important is it to have chemistry in your professional and personal pursuits?
More than chemistry, I think the key word is authenticity – things need to feel authentic and true to you, and true to whoever you’re working with. Chemistry follows on from authenticity.

In the Youth of Our Fury: A Volume of Photo Essays

Read the full interview in the February 2017 issue of L'OFFICIEL Singapore (out now on newsstands and Magzter).

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