Namechecking Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano? Running a StarCraft II team? Zhang Jingna is not your typical fashion photographer.
Zhang (AKA "zemotion") is one of the most talented young photographers in the world, shooting photos for Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and Photo Vogue as well as Mercedes Benz, Montblanc, and Lancôme, among many others.
Along with Ready at Dawn concept artist Tobias "tobiee" Kwan, Zhang began Motherland Chronicles earlier this year. It's an artbook project (the book hits in summer 2014), but Zhang and Kwan are working through the project in the most public way possible: Each week, they upload their next Motherland works online with Kwan contributing a painting and Zhang contributing a photo.
With Motherland Chronicles, Zhang hoped to explore the things she loved as a child: anime, manga, and Japanese fantasy art. For her photos, she draws classical painterly art as well as Japanese artist like Jun Suemi, Toshiaki Kato, Ayami Kojima, and the aforementioned Amano. Throughout her work, you can even see visual references to manga collective Clamp.
The results are photos that look like traditional paintings, but are grounded in Japanese fantasy, whether that's anime, manga or video games.
As you can see, Zhang has collaborated with cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao (above) on the series.
"I started shooting for Harper's Bazaar Singapore when I was 20," says Zhang. "But once that started, I became so busy doing commercial work, I never had time to do the things I used to like as a teenager anymore."
As with most in her generation, Zhang grew up playing games. Unlike most gamers, she also used to have her own semi-pro StarCraft II team, called Infinity Seven, which Zhang says disbanded earlier this month. For Zhang, managing the team, working as a professional photographer, and doing her Motherland Chronicles side-project was stretching her too thin.
"I picked up StarCraft II casually in the beginning, because of an ex," she says. After that relationship ended, she kept playing. "Made a clan and then that turned into a team," she recalls. "Good times."
Besides her day job shooting ads and fashion layouts, Motherland Chronicles isn't only what occupies Zhang's free time, but it's also a tribute to what inspired her as she was coming of age. "In part," she adds, "[it's also] a reminder to others about personal work, the things they used to love and shouldn't forget."
You can see more of Zhang's work on her official site below as well as on the Motherland Chronicles site.