Japanese artist, Tatsuya Tanaka, believes everyone has sometimes imagined that leaves floating on water looked like little boats, or that broccoli or parsley resembled a tiny forest. A desire to express such imaginings through photos inspired him to put together his ‘Miniature Calendar’ project – where he posts a new photo every day.
The photographs in Tanaka’s project primarily depict surreal worlds by using miniature human figures surrounded by everyday object such as plastic straws, food, circuit boards and more.
Despite the tiny proportions of the worlds he creates, they’re definitely big on imagination. The fact that Tanaka has been continuing this project for 5 years is a testament to his ongoing imagination and creativity.
Tanaka is a great example of how a photographer can create outstanding photography that is fun, and that engages its audience on all levels.
Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee was born in 1983, and earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Seoul’s Hongik University. Since 2007, Lee has been shooting whimsical images that represent either her experiences, dreams and memories, or represent traditional Korean folk tales and legends.
Seeing Lee’s work for the first time, most viewers will presume her colorful, fantasy world images are the product of a large amount of digital manipulation. Yet each of her photos is created through the meticulous construction of elaborate sets by the artist herself, rather than use of Photoshop. In the middle of each image you can always find the artist herself, as Lee’s work is a type of unconventional self-portraiture.
In “Resurrection” Lee appears inside a lotus portraying rebirth. The image references Shim Cheongin, a Korean fable about a girl who throws herself into the sea and comes back to life inside a blooming lotus. Lee created this dreamlike image by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice.
What boggles the mind is that Lee creates all the scenes in her images by hand – in a tiny studio that measures a mere 3.6 x 4.1 x 2.4 meters. Starting with an idea born in her imagination, Lee will labor for weeks, sometimes months, constructing a surreal set for the sake of taking a single photograph. For each of her photographs the artist fills every square inch of space with hand-made props, set pieces, and backdrops
When the set is complete, Lee inserts herself in the scene and then takes multiple test shots. After carefully examining the test shots and making any adjustments she deems necessary, Lee takes the final shot with a 4×5 large format film camera. Lee then disassembles the set once the final photograph is produced.
To create “Treasure Hunt”, Lee devoted three months to crafting the wire grassland, which carpets her studio to evoke a child-like wonderland. She spent nearly eight hours a day weaving bits of craft wire to a mesh screen to complete the grass flooring.
Lee’s avoidance of the use of Photoshop is based on her belief that the building and breaking-down of the set is an integral part of her artwork. She only uses Photoshop when she has suspended objects from the ceiling of her studio, in which case she uses the program to erase the fishing lines used for suspension.
“My Chemical Romance” with its maze of pipes and yellow & black danger tape, Lee depicts the anxiety and disappointments felt by herself or those around her, and how they can lead to conflict and clashes of personality.
Lee is unique in that in addition to the role of photographer, she also assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, installation artist, and performer. The results are magical, as can be seen in this small selection of a few of her work.
“Panic Room” shows the artist hiding herself inside a cupboard to protect and shelter herself from the confusion outside – symbolized by the dizzying atmosphere Lee created by bending the perspective in her studio. (For
Recipient of multiple artistic awards, JeeYoung Lee is recognized as one of the most promising up-and-coming artists in Korea. Her work has also received extensive coverage outside her home country by global news outlets such as Huffington Post, NBC news, CNN international, France 3 National news, China Daily, etc. as well as on various art/photo websites.
A self-confessed introvert, Malaysian photographer Bibo Aswan is modest about his successes as a fashion photographer. However, his photographs – edgy, loud, and bold – are in complete contrast with his quiet personality.
Bibo’s says his preferred subjects are models as he finds something compelling and interesting about human movement, as well as the dynamic shapes and strong features of the models.
While pursuing a diploma in photography at Limkokwing University, Bibo created his initial portfolio by using the other students as his models. He then used social media to post his photos and expose his work to the masses. This successfully led to people contacting him asking for quotes and requesting him to shoot their collection – launching his career.
Having his work featured in a number of renowned local publications quickly gained him industry-wide attention and built his reputation as a hard-working photographer with a creative flair.
Bibo has become one of Malaysia’s preferred photographers to shoot fashion editorial spreads.
Instagram has taken the world by storm, with millions trying to get ‘likes’ for the creativity, aesthetic, and – dare I say it – ‘perfectness’ of their uploaded photos.
Many others use the photos they upload to Instagram to create an impression how amazing their life is.
With all the attention garnered by the photos on Instagram, much has been made about the myriad filters available for people to use in creating their Instagram masterpieces. Thai photographer Chompoo Baritone took a different approach in a series of humorous images exposing how many of those ‘perfect’ Instagram photos could have been created with simple cropping.
The Bangkok-based photographer’s series ‘Slowlife’, pokes fun at these types of ‘impeccable’ lifestyle images on Instagram by highlighting just how easy it is to fake a beautiful lifestyle with some creative cropping.
Having studied photography at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in Thailand, Baritone has a good eye for how things can be staged. Her ‘Slowiife’ series is a strong argument for how cropping and the use of filters can turn mundane situations into photos of seemingly extraordinary lifestyles!
While created with a humorous intent, Baritone’s work is actually a great case study for amateur photographers. “Slowlife” clearly highlights the effects cropping can have when creating a a photo.
Rinko Kawaguchi is a contemporary Japanese photographer whose work is characterized by a serene, poetic style, depicting the ordinary moments in life. Born in Shiga, Japan in 1972, Kawaguchi became interested in photography while studying at Seian University of Art and Design, where she graduated in 1993.
After graduation, Kawaguchi worked in advertising for several years. Then, in 2001 she launched her career as a fine art photographer by simultaneously releasing a series of three photographic books – Utatane, Hanabi, and Hanako. Overnight, her works created a sensation in Japan’s photography world, and established her reputation.
Kawaguchi’s initial domestic success was quickly followed by major exhibitions overseas. Illuminance, Kawauchi’s first work published outside Japan, quickly gained the photographer international recognition for her nuanced images that portray fragments of everyday life. Kawaguchi’s photographic style has been described as ‘exposing the secrets of the banal’.
Shooting primarily with a six-by-six format camera, Kawaguchi concentrates on capturing natural phenomena in her images, becoming a master of finding stillness and purity in everyday life. Kawaguchi explains that her photos are supposed to give you the feeling of ‘looking in on a moment about to happen’. Her photographs have been described as a visual form of haiku (a style of Japanese poetry) – portraying simple beauty in an uncluttered manner. Emphasizing this, many of her photos are accompanied by haikus she has composed herself.
Rarely include people, Kawaguchi’s photos range in subject from city streets, flowers and oceans, to sandwiches and even a dead animal lying on the side of a road.
Following her initial success, Kawaguchi won many prestigious photography prizes, and published multiple photo books.
Commenting on her style, Kawaguchi says, “It’s not enough that the photograph is beautiful. If it doesn’t move my heart, it won’t move anyone else’s heart.”
Although photography remains her main focus, since 2012 Kawaguchi has also forayed into video production, producing several works that compliment her photography. Yet, photography remains her main passion, and she has continued publishing compilations of her still work in book form – the latest being her recent release of “The River Embraced Me” in early 2016.
Kawaguchi is currently actively participating both solo and group exhibitions around the world, while living and working in Tokyo.
Released a year before completing his university studies, Cuong Do Manh’s photo-story ‘Twins’ created a sensation in Vietnam in 2013.
The project consists of 20 photos that Cuong took of twin albino brothers, Huy and Hung, born into a poor family living in Ha Tinh province.
In addition to the hardship of poverty, the brothers face added adversities imposed their albinism – such as the need to avoid the harsh sun, and poor vision. Through it all, they act like any little boys – playing and smiling impishly.
Cuong believes the project’s successful reception was based on the uniqueness of the brothers, and honesty portrayed in the photos. This was the result of taking time to gain their trust by spending time with them – eating together, playing together, and even sleeping with them.
People who view Twins easily relate to seeing two extraordinary young brothers living an ordinary life.
According to Cuong, “These photographs are a window to the world of Huy and Hung – and what a special, wonderful and different view it is to my own.”
Born in Beijing, China, Zhe Chen is a fine art photographer who has investigated and documented the self-inflicted activities of herself and others.
While growing up in Beijing, Zhe started scarring her flesh while in high school. She then ran away and took refuge at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where she studied photography.
Before she even turned 22, Zhe’s work attracted the attention of the Magnum Foundation and she was granted the Inge Morath Award for her second photography project entitled “Bees”.
In “Bees”, Zhe’s purpose was to record marginalized people in China, who, faced with chaos, violence, and alienation, feel compelled to leave self-inflicted physical traces and markings on their bodies.
Zhe found those she calls “Bees” by first showing them her own scars. This connection with their situation encouraged her subjects to be totally unselfconscious in front of her camera.
Currently living in Los Angeles, Zhe continues documenting her self-inflicted activities, while creating a series of projects focusing on body modification, human hair, post-traumatic stress disorder, identity confusion and memory.
Zhe holds a BFA in Photography & Imaging from Art Center College of Design.
Singapore-based Lenne Chai has built a reputation as an extraordinary fashion photographer in record time.
First exposed to photography during a module on Photojournalism in her final year as a Mass Communication student, Lenne interned as a photojournalist for the Straits Times before launching her career as a freelance photographer.
Making a splash in locally with her pastel-powered and unconventional images, Lenne soon caught the attention of Japan’s fashion industry and has since been regularly travelling to Tokyo, where she shoots for many leading Japanese publications.
Lenne continues to expand her creative horizons by working on projects such as ‘Karaoke Party’ (a series of three fashion films presented as karaoke videos), and a collaboration with embroidery artist Teresa Lim titled ‘Sad Girls Club’.
Lenne’s work has been featured in local and international publications such as NYLON Japan, Elle Girl (Japan), Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, Designaré, and SPUR (Japan).