Interview with the Artist Lillian Liu

December 1, 2018 | Author: webSman

Q: Tell us about your photography and what first sparked an interest in this medium. Do you prefer the old school wet process or are you fully digital?

A: I think I’ve always enjoyed viewing art. I did come across some beautiful landscape and macro photography online on Deviantart as a preteen, and really loved collecting all of my favorite artwork to look at in my spare time. I think this sparked my interest in trying my hand initially at picking up a camera! It wasn’t until I decided to take photos of my friends, that I decided that portraiture was quite interesting.  I’m fully digital- I don’t know a thing about anything old-school! My first camera was digital, and it’s been this way for a while…but I think there is great beauty in older methods that are worth learning.

Q: Do you use photo manipulation or any other editing techniques which are enhancing your images?

A: I do some manipulation, but I often realize now that getting things in camera is often the way to go, as it saves a lot of time. However, each image does have around 35-40% of post manipulation to get the final product that you see. I like to make my own stock images now, but I don’t enjoy compositing unless I really must, especially with models and body parts. This is why the models I use are so important to me- if they understand me and the way I like to see models move, then it shortens my process and makes for more effective photos.

Q: What editing programs do you favor and why?

A: I only use Lightroom and Photoshop. I’ve tried the trial version of Capture One, and it was amazing…but I can’t afford to pay for more than 3 programs at once.

Q: Do you have a favorite application or technique?

A: I love color toning! It’s my favorite thing to transform an image.

Q: What inspires your creations?

A: Stories- both real and imagined.

Q: Do you collaborate with a team of stylists or wardrobe designers, makeup artists or is everything done on your own? If you do collaborate, can you talk a little about how you choose your team and work with them. Do you direct all aspects of the shoot in advance or do you leave some creative freedom to your team members? For this shoot can you tell us anything specific about your team members or models, how did they contribute to the success of the image? Did they help you develop your concept or assist in your overall creation?

A: My teams range from 1-8 people usually. Sometimes, I do everything- makeup, hair, styling, shooting. Sometimes, I only style a shoot on top of doing the camerawork. However, I make sure to always style/develop the concept, as I don’t enjoy working as a “photographer for hire” unless the designer’s pieces are already inspirational to me.

Full teams are usually for fashion shoots with a need of makeup, hair, etc, but I generally prefer smaller groups of 1-3 people. It is more intimate this way- but I like collaborating with teams of all sizes.  I enjoy working with familiar people or people who hold similar interests to me as a general rule of thumb. However, I will admit…
I am exceptionally picky about makeup artists in general, as I see myself becoming more and more particular about how makeup can make or break immersion in an image.
Regarding creativity- it depends on the project. I like to leave room for artists working with me to have their own signature in there too, but within the confines of the idea being placed in front of them. I generally give a set of varying guidelines, and then let them roam from there to see what speaks to them creatively. Sometimes- it also depends on personality…certain individuals might like a lot more direction than others. I tend to maneuver depending on who I’m with!

For all of my shoots, everyone plays a part in creation. However- a lot of weight rests on the model being
able to body map successfully, and I love seeing an image come to life when the perfect face is also able to be the perfect actress. I walk every single one of my models through all of their movements- but those who can read my mind due to working with me the most are the easiest to work with…so there are often callbacks upon callbacks with these particular faces.

Q: What challenges do you have when you’re creating, and what makes you the happiest when you’re bringing a new project to fruition?

A: Money is always the greatest problem- and sometimes, location! Happiness is found in seeing everything come together in pre-planning- when I am laying out all of the materials, ideas, thumbnails, storyboards…

Q: Were you formally trained or are you self taught?

A: I am self taught!

Q: What advice do you have for artists who are seeking to follow creative photography as a career?

A: Know all the rules, understand why they are there…but don’t be afraid to break every single one
of them in your work. Don’t feel restrained just because you don’t have fantastical styling and elaborate
costumes- there are many cheap ways to bring something beautiful to life in ways that are convincing.

Q: If you had full funding to do any project, what would it be and why?

A: I would commission original costume designs and ideas from my sketches! Of course, that is currently still a dream…

Q: Tell us about your plagiarism case.

A: My art was plagiarized and used in a gallery showing in Jakarta that was sponsored by Harper’s Bazaar. Two images were used- with one of them being the main promotional piece. I didn’t have any idea, until a follower of mine went to see the exhibit and then realized that what they were seeing looked like something from my online portfolio. I remember receiving this news when I was sitting on the couch eating salmon for breakfast in Copenhagen, and feeling quite sick after reading the message and seeing pictures of the artist and promotional media all gathered in front of my image. At first, I didn’t know how to react- but then I decided to make things public…as the artist in question was not an inexperienced newbie who “didn’t know the rules,” (although that was what she had claimed, despite her history of showcasing with Bazaar in the past and also 14 years of exhibition history), nor was this a non-profit show, as pieces get sold afterwards. The news did blow up quickly, as art theft is never something that sits well with independent creators, and it is also inexcusable in the day and age of reverse image searching…especially with a name like Bazaar attached to it. CTV did cover the incident, and I was happy for it.  However, I did not choose to pursue legal action, as it is very expensive to do so (and outside of the realm of possibility for most young, independent creators, which is a weakness that some large companies do exploit). Many people have suggested raising legal funds for me- but in a way, I feel like the artist in question has learned her lesson already- and that although she is older than me, she is still a young person with the potential to recover from this and carry on with honesty. I do not see the gallery nor Bazaar being at fault here, since they were not responsible necessarily for the creation process of these pieces.