Photographer: Ling Chen @ling_chen_photography Model: Andria Hall @andriaahall
Ling, could you please briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your first encounter with photography? Who influenced you to start taking photographs?
In a nutshell, I’m a portrait photographer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I had my first camera when I was in college ten years ago. I used it to take pictures occasionally, with my favorite subject being clouds. But that was merely an avocation – nothing serious in those early days.
I started to learn about photography when my daughter was born. At the beginning, I only wanted to document her growth and development. However, as I learned more and more about cameras and lighting, I knew I wanted to progress considerably further. I began to search for models to work with and try different concepts. Portrait photography soon became my passion, and it still is.
From your point of view, what is the most difficult aspect of professional portrait photography?
Without a doubt, lighting. I constantly think about how to use lighting to express and enhance the beauty of my subject.
As an expert in portraiture, what do believe are the unique features of this kind of photography and the keys to master it?
It is, of course, an utterly personal art. Photography is not just taking a picture, and portrait photography is not just mechanically pressing a shutter. Emotion is an essential feature. The combination of lighting and composition is the key to making a rich emotional image. The experience of the photographer and communication with the model are also crucial for achieving the effects I pursue.
To master portrait photography, there is no substitute for hundreds or even thousands of hours of practice! And don’t forget to examine carefully sheaves of images to train your eyes.
In your opinion, how is beauty perceived at the present age? What does photography mean to you personally and what really makes a woman or man beautiful?
I myself see more vividly when I create art that allows other people to do likewise. I feel better when I document moments, especially in people’s lives.
Confidence and self-knowledge are keys to personal beauty. Be aware of your advantages and how to project them. Experiment with poses and make comparisons.
What type of models do you prefer to shoot with? Why?
I like to shoot with models who are responsible and know themselves very well. If they already know their best angles and advantages, we don’t have to start from square one and experiment endlessly.
Are there any other photographers you look up to? Who?
Yes, and they are legion. Among the most talented are Sue Bryce, Anastasia Lisitsyna, Xenia Lau, Natalia Arantseva, Vivienne Mok, Jingna Zhang, and Domenico Falso.
Could you take us through the typical planning process for your images when you are going to conduct a photoshoot?
For a personal project, I always start with an idea in mind. Then I search for some inspiration photos if possible. Otherwise, I’ll sketch it. Then I’ll find a model and a makeup artist to put the team together. Then we start to prepare props and outfits. One the day of shoot, I’ll talk to my model so that we can know each other a little bit if it’s our first time to work together. Also, good communication is an effective way to make my model relax, and that makes for a better performance.
In addition to being sharp and well lit, your photos are beautifully edited. What is your retouching/production philosophy?
I’m primarily interested in putting things back to the way I see the model with my own eyes, but also with removing all the digital flaws associated with the capture process. Unless there is a specific look in mind for the retouch work. I want the retouch not to reveal that there has been retouching. It can be OK to leave a few flaws in an image. I’d rather have a photo look beautiful and natural though with minor imperfections included than artificial with every flaw removed. To me, “less is more.”
What would be your tips/advice to models looking to expand their portfolios?
Practice A LOT before you go to a photoshoot. Always have good communication with the photographer you’re going to work with.
Where can we see more of your works, and how can we get connected with you?
My IG is: Ling_chen_photography. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org