Zhong Lin is a self-taught photographer who started her career by experimenting with film. With a seductive color palette and an eccentricity to her work, Lin's distinctive style has caught the attention of Vogue China and Harper's Bazaar China. When she's not shooting fashion editorials or campaigns, she travels around exploring different lifestyles and capturing subtleties of everyday life. We caught up with the mysterious photographer to discover more about her photographic practice.
Zhong Lin takes over our Instagram feed for the week (July 21 to 27).
You don't appear to have a website, instead you're very active on Instagram. How successful is this platform for you in terms of receiving commissions?
The majority of my work is for magazines, brand campaigns and showbiz publicity materials. Instagram is the medium I use to share my works publicly. I choose this platform because it’s easy, simple and I can speak directly to my audience without too much nuisance. I get prompt feedback with likes and comments from all walks of life all around the world. Instagram is universal and borderless, and that helps me reach out to the people who I don’t know yet. I do get some inquiries through Instagram as since it’s the only platform I’m using, but mainly I earn jobs through words of mouth – or the clients reach me via email.
What are your main influences?
Since childhood I've watched and read a lot of anime and manga, they've shaped my aesthetic. I like these two artforms because there’s no sense or logic in them. Anything is possible in the plot, they make all kinds of fantasy come true.
Your Instagram feed is beautifully curated. Can you tell us a little bit about what you keep in mind when choosing images to post?
Thank you for the compliment but I never think and plan my posts. I post whatever comes in my mind and choose images that speak of my mood at that time.
Your style is very distinctive, could you tell us how you came to this visual signature?
I’m very sensitive to colors, especially red, blue and orange. When I started I was lost for quite a time. I have wide interests in many things and my curiosity motivates me to try them all, resulting in the assortment of themes, tropes, and elements in my work. I never thought I had a distinctive personal style until people started telling me they could recognize my works just by a glance. Yet to this day I’m still not totally sure what exactly my style is. I do know I like certain hues of colour, which I think distinguishes me from other photographers.
Do you have a particular process you follow for each shoot?
I don’t have an exact creative process. So far my work mostly involves fashion however I do try and avoid focusing too much on fashion-related images. Keeping up to date with the fashion industry is undeniably part of my job since as I have to understand what’s going on in the industry, but I also divert my attention to other fields of photography. When being in the creative field, you inevitably tie inspiration with the lifestyle, the culture, the environment and the people around you. You might get inspired just by having breakfast or watching tv, which is why I always have my sketchbook alongside me because I never know when ideas will pop up. Overall, I'd say there's no particular process but I’m always ready and prepared to observe and absorb whatever that may inspire me.
What is it about fashion that inspires you?
Up until now most of my works are related to fashion but I wouldn't categorize myself to a particular genre. I’m curious in many things and I crave to try all of them. I’m inspired by many things, fashion for sure is one of them and to me, fashion is like anime and manga in its beauty because it's illogical. There’s no square definition in fashion and I get to play all the whimsical and unrestrained elements or fantasies.
Can you talk us through one of your studio shoots?
Playing music matters a lot during my photoshoots. I create a playlist specifically for each shoot depending on the set, the concept, the vibe and tone I’d like to create. The chemistry between me and the model plays a crucial role. I don't normally meet the model before because I rather discover their personality during a shoot. I never direct subjects to pose or to stand at a certain point, instead I tell them: "Be yourself and flow with the music or vibe.” I want to inspire the model as much as they inspire me so together we can bring out new and unexpected parts of us. Spontaneity is also critical during my shoots. My team understand my vision and flows with my every move while I'm shooting so spontaneity appears more like an organized improvisation.