Posts Tagged ‘portraits’



Girls’ Generation K-Pop Factory Girls for The New Yorker

Clipping from The New Yorker's Factory Girls article featuring Girls' Generation.

I am going to be playing catch up over the next month or two – lots of new work and clippings to share. These images are from an awesome article for The New Yorker delving into Korean pop music (aka K-pop). I flew down to Jakarta to witness a massive stadium concert featuring some of the biggest names in K-pop from S.M. Entertainment and take portraits of Girls’ Generation. The nine member group consists of Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona and Seohyun. It was easily one of my most stressful photographic experiences. The management closely grooms these girls for years and try to control their media presence very closely. They were suspicious of what The New Yorker would detail and didn’t provide me with any information on how to get into the stadium properly. I was lucky enough to find a sympathetic security guard who let me into the backstage area where I only had fifteen minutes to set up all my lighting gear and another fifteen minutes with Girls’ Generation to take the actual photographs. Luckily they had some nice pink satin backdrops that worked well with my ring flash. Girls’ Generation knew how to pose for the camera as well, of course. The New Yorker Photo Booth blog interviewed me about the shoot here. These are some of the hottest up-and-coming stars in K-pop.

Girls' Generation perform live in a Jakarta stadium for an S.M. Entertainment showcase of Korean pop.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls Generation members pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta.

Girls' Generation pose before their big stadium show in Jakarta



    Duck Fight Goose Releases Sports at D-22

    Duck Fight Goose releases its debut album Sports at D-22.

    I always like to brag about Beijing being the center of the music universe in China. It is rather hard to dispute. The only band that throws a wrench in my argument is Duck Fight Goose. Hailing from Shanghai, they are one of the best bands in China, hands down. Their new album Sports, recently released by Maybe Mars, should put them more on the map not only domestically but hopefully internationally. I love the math and prog rock influences and genuinely feel it could be a breakout album. Han Han, the lead singer and general impresario, is taking the band in a wide array of directions. Their live performances are also extremely tight – check out footage from the Sports album release party at D-22 below. So, onwards and upwards with Duck Fight Goose, and may they continue to instigate a renaissance of sorts in Shanghai.

    Duck Fight Goose releases its debut album Sports at D-22.Duck Fight Goose releases its debut album Sports at D-22.

    Duck Fight Goose releases its debut album Sports at D-22.Duck Fight Goose releases its debut album Sports at D-22.



      Ai Weiwei/艾未未 Marches On – Portraits for Foreign Policy

      Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait with one of his cats in his studio compound.

      A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Ai Weiwei in his studio to take portraits for Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list where he appeared at #18 in the rankings. He was very amiable and open to me directing him about his compound where I posed him with some of his favorite cats. Ai Weiwei is all over the news again. After a short period of silence following an 81-day incarceration, he continues to lash out at authorities and decry the trumped-up charges of tax evasion brought against him in an attempt to silence his outspoken criticisms. A recent Newsweek piece he penned where he related Beijing to a “nightmare” was especially noteworthy. This renewed vigor and boldness seem in large part due to the outpouring of support shown by anonymous Chinese donors who rallied behind him to raise $1.4 million to challenge his huge tax bill which he refers to as ransom money. Other admirers are finding more brazen outlets to show support by posting nude photos of themselves online in defense of other spurious pornography charges brought against Ai Weiwei for a set of revealing self portraits released on the Internet. To make things even more controversial, high profile figures are weighing in on the situation, including Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou who visited his current exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. It’s all quite a mess, but I am sure Ai Weiwei is pleased with himself for creating an even larger fuss than before his arrest – another great case of censorship backfiring in the face of the Chinese state.

      In a crazy sense I think the political space in China has truly transformed Ai Weiwei’s life into an interdisciplinary work of art or a “social performance” as he calls it. His invocation of the Chinese state’s ire came through a combination of critical sculptures, writings, photographs, videos and installations. While these separate pieces might not be interdisciplinary in nature, they have brought about a dynamic where every action or utterance of Ai Weiwei becomes performative in nature and open to intense analysis by journalists, officials, police and, increasingly so, the general public. His identity remains at the center and activates all of these mediums of expression, especially through the Internet which exponentially magnifies his impact. In a statistical sense, Ai Weiwei is not well known in China. Still, he is making waves where it counts and China’s intelligentsia is taking note. These are the people fashioning the new China, and his stand against censorship and political suppression is singular. By tapping into a populist sentiment with his donation drive, he is putting officials even more on edge. It’s a very crucial moment for Ai Weiwei right now. There is still a very distinct possibility he might disappear again.

      In other Ai Weiwei news, my friend Alison Klayman’s documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, is set to premiere at the Sundance Festival in January. Check out the trailer and her appearance on the Colbert Report. It is very timely and should be a great film.

      Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

      Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait with one of his cats in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

      Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

      Ai Weiwei poses for Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers



        “A Future of Price Spikes” – Vegetable Stall Owners in Time Magazine

        Time Magazine "A Future of Price Spikes" clipping

        One of my first assignments for Time Magazine is finally in print. I spent a few days in Guangzhou earlier this year shooting formal portraits of vegetable stall owners for an article on rising global food prices. A combination of natural disasters and inflation continues to create a spike in food prices across China. Affordable basic necessities such as electricity, food, water and transportation are always a mainstay of the Chinese Communist Party, but these increases seem to be beyond their control. Consumption of food across China is rising dramatically in line with increased wealth in both rural in urban areas. Everyone wants pork and extra rice at dinner. Many of the figures in the article are actually quite alarming. Global food prices already increased 39% over the past year, food production must increase 70% by 2050 to meet the demand of swelling populations and the average amount of meat people consume has doubled over the past three decades. Despite our profound ability to manipulate our environment, we are going to have to rectify many of our eating habits, not only to combat increased food demand, but also to stave off the rising spectre of obesity. Still, I am going to have my fill of tacos while I am in New York City this month.

        Wangquan is 56 years old and a mother of three. Her parents also live with her at home.Machuangran is 16 years old and works at the market when his parents are busy. He lives at home with his older sister.

        Liuhaili is 28 years old and lives her husband and son. Her husband also works at the market.Wang Di is the youngest of three children and still lives with his parents.

        An assortment of vegetables and garlic at a Guangzhou vegetable marketPeppers are one of the commodities that has seen the highest price rise at a Guangzhou vegetable marketPeppers are one of the commodities that has seen the highest price rise at a Guangzhou vegetable market



          The New Yorker Han Han/韩寒 Profile: China’s Bad Boy Blogger

          "The Han Dynasty" clipping, featuring Han Han/韩寒, from the July 4, 2011 issue of The New Yorker

          Han Han/韩寒 is China’s bad boy blogger, pop star, race car driver, lady killer and political-dissident-dabbler extraordinaire. His personal blog has garnered upwards to half a billion hits, and he ranked second in the 2010 Time 100 Poll for the most influential people in the world (granted there was a viral movement in China to boost his rankings). This week Evan Osnos profiled him in The New Yorker and my portrait accompanied the piece (there is a paywall, but Evan posted two related blog entries). Photographing Han Han in Shanghai was surreal. I think he is inured to contrived studio locations so he seemed a bit surprised when I met him on the street and started dragging him around to dirty internet cafes just off the Bund. Still, Han Han went with the flow and fully cooperated despite the ad hoc nature of the shoot. Quite frankly he is really easygoing and always down for a joke. A few people recognized him on the street and at the last Internet cafe we visited where I shot the published portrait, the manager flipped out that Han Han was present and allowed us to do whatever we wanted. Still, his popularity is a double-edged sword. Some people were scared to let them into their establishments while others couldn’t believe their luck.

          After shooting Han Han in Shanghai I got to meet up with him one more afternoon at the Zhuhai International Raceway, just outside Macau. He was in full race mode. Bantering with the other drivers and strutting in and out of the pit, Han Han seemed at ease in the air conditioned confines of his sponsor tent. I feel Han Han is actually rather crowd averse. He mentioned that he was working on a new book, but otherwise seemed a bit resigned to his current daily routine – keeping things subdued ever since the crackdown on other outspoken activists around China. There is a boyish air to Han Han, and he is just as pleased to hone his skills behind the wheel instead of injecting caustic commentary into the Chinese zeitgeist. Despite the whirlwind of cars and speculation, Han Han is in no rush and has plenty of time to devise his machinations.

          Han Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China, poses on the Bund with Pudong in the background in ShanghaiHan Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China, poses in an Internet cafe in ShanghaiHan Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China, poses in a traditional longtang in Shanghai

          Han Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China and race car driver, looks down the pit lanes at the Zhuhai International RacewayHan Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China and race car driver, poses with his helmet in the stands at the Zhuhai International RacewayHan Han/韩寒’, the most popular blogger in China and race car driver, looks down the pit lanes at the Zhuhai International Raceway

          Han Han/韩寒, the most popular blogger in China, poses in a traditional longtang with some local pups in Shanghai



            2011 Strawberry Festival: Chinese Hipster Gathering and Related Controversy

            The audience flips out for Miserable Faith the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of Beijing

            You might be able to tell by now, but I am way behind on my posts. These shots were all taken during the second day of the 2011 Strawberry Festival on May 1. Whoops. Anyway, better late than never. The rise of the Chinese hipster brought much controversy this past year. There were naysayers calling them hacks and shallow followers, others too clueless to know where to look in the first place, while some dug deeper and provided taxonomies or even tracked Chinese überhipsters (trans-identity-meta-hipster-awesomeness). So, despite the general lack of irony and fixed-gear bikes in China, I still stand behind my previous assertions of the importance of this new wave of urban youth trying to stand out from the crowd and make it on there own. Identity in urban china is an ever-mutating beast, but there is no denying that people are trying to reach deeper and tap into more creative currents. Alternative lifestyles, especially in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu and Guangzhou are on the rise and need to be celebrated. Here are a few of those who are visually standing out for better or worse.

            Hipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of BeijingHipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of BeijingHipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of Beijing

            Hipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of BeijingHipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of BeijingHipsters and freaks rock out at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of Beijing

            The audience waits for Hedgehog to come on stage at the 2011 Strawberry Festival at the Tongzhou Canal Park outside of Beijing



            Subs Sound Kapital Portrait Graces Cover of Courrier International

            Courrier International Cover with Sub's lead guitarist, Wuhao/吴昊, from Sound Kapital

            My portrait from Sound Kapital of Subs lead guitarist, Wuhao/吴昊, appeared on the cover of Courrier International. If you buy the magazine and speak French, please translate the article for me. The Subs are AWESOME. They are one of the first bands I saw when I returned to Beijing in 2007. Expect some big features next week, including photos in The New Yorker and Time Magazine.



              China Vogue Music Feature: Bringing Rock to the Masses

              A portrait of Cui Jian/崔健 at D-22

              Thanks to my new friend Alex Chao, who just arrived in Beijing to take over art direction at China Vogue, I was able to contribute for the first time to China Vogue this month. It was also a perfect match since the magazine was running a big music issue and decided to let me cue up on some of the old school rockers in China including Cui Jian/崔健 (the godfather of Chinese rock), Shen Lihui/沈黎辉 (general rocker and founder of Modern Sky) and Zhang Youdai/张有待 (the DJ who introduced rock to the masses). First of all, I was very excited to get a chance to shoot Cui Jian on the D-22 red wall. He really is a pillar in the history of Chinese rock and greatly influenced a whole generation of China with his anthem “Nothing to My Name” which became a rallying song for students in China during the 1980s. Although I might not be the biggest fan of some of Shen Lihui’s music, his importance as the founder of the Modern Sky music label and festival production company is undisputed. When other record companies refused to release his music in 1997, he went his own way and founded Modern Sky to support a new generation of Chinese rockers and then continued to take this music to larger audiences with the Modern Sky Music Festival and Strawberry Music Festival. Shen Lihui will undoubtably be a force in the future of alternative music in China for some time to come. Although I had never heard of Zhang Youdai before, he seems to be an instrumental character in the history of rock in China as well. He became a DJ and host on Beijing Music Radio back in 1993 and introduced a wide range of music to youth across China. He is a true shaker in China’s emerging entertainment market and is rocking out to an Eric Clapton LP in the China Vogue portrait. Mad respect.

              A China Vogue clipping of Zhang Youdai/张有待

              A China Vogue clipping of Cui Jian/崔健

              A China Vogue clipping of Shen Lihui/沈黎辉



                Wuhan Skateboarding: Indoor Vox Livehouse Event

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night

                This past month I made a few visits to Wuhan to check out their hip hop scene. Much like Beijing, there are a lot of connections between various alternative music and sporting communities. Many of the MCs in Wuhan are also avid skateboarders, including MC Big Dog/大狗, the top freestyler in Wuhan and three-time winner of the Iron Mic. On my final night, MC Big Dog hosted the first skateboard night at Vox Livehouse, the preeminent music venue and club in Wuhan. It was a great evening of friendly rivalries and other shenanigans. The portraits below are the bulk of the competitors who took part in the evening activities. These are some of the faces of Chinese adolescents who are breaking boundaries in urban areas around the country. Wuhan is an incredible place with a very thoughtful and forward thinking youth movement. They stick to their guns and abide by the Vox Livehouse motto: Voice of Youth, Voice of Freedom!

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night

                Wuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding NightWuhan skateboarders compete for a cash prize at the first Vox Skateboarding Night



                  Zoomin Night: Experimental Solos at D-22

                  Xiaolong/闫玉龙 poses for a portrait at D-22 after his performanceLijianhong/李剑鸿 poses for a portrait at D-22 after his performance

                  Zoomin Night is an ongoing experimental music series that first proffered its eclectic sounds at D-22 on August 11, 2009. Organized by Zhu “Raindog” Wenbo, every Tuesday at D-22 since then has witnessed offbeat performances of every ilk, exploring the outer rim of musical composition and noise making. In many ways it took up the mantle of the now defunct Waterland Kwanyin, the longest ongoing experimental music series in Beijing that held court at 2 Kolegas – the biggest difference being the more post-punk/noise-rock sound of many of the performers at Zoomin’ Night. Because of my recent heavy travel schedule, I have not been able to attend as many evenings as I would like. I did manage to sneak up a few weeks ago to capture some engaging solo performances by Xiaolong/闫玉龙 and Lijianhong/李剑鸿. Xiaolong is an young electric violinist who experiments with a wide variety of delays, loops and pedals to create a mesmerizing aura of sound, while Lijianghong is one of the most respected and longstanding members of China’s experimental music community. Born in Zhejiang in 1975, he is an incredible guitarist and founder of 2pi Records. I have seen him play a few times before with his other projects such as D!O!D!O!D!, but this was the first time I got to see him really lay into it by himself. The attached video will better justify my statements. Also, check out this excellent article by Pete DeMola for a more detailed introduction to Zoomin Night as well as more recent updates from the astute Pangbianr blog. Lastly, Zoomin Night has set up a SoundCloud account for more noisy treats, or you can still catch live performances every Tuesday at D-22.





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