new genuary: introducing hao zeng
Another year, another fresh batch of exciting young talent. Throughout the month of January we will be introducing the photographers set to define 2017. Capturing the world around them and interpreting it through the prism of their own experiences...
Hao Zeng, 34
Tell me a bit about yourself and where you grew up?
I was born in Beijing and came to the US when I was four. I moved around southern New Jersey much of my youth.
How did you get into photography?
I was always into art as a child — painting, sculpting — and it naturally led to fashion, and fashion led to fashion imagery.
What is it about the medium that appeals most?
It very instantaneous — a split second that gives you a glimpse in to a world, but just enough so the audience can fill in the blanks.
How and where did you learn your craft?
I read every fashion magazine I could get my hands on every month, as well as every photography book. Eventually I interned and assisted for Victoria Bartlett and Patti Wilson. Soon after, I started working for David Armstrong for a few years. He taught me a lot about editing and content. I assisted a few other photographers where I learned lighting and different technical skills. I learned on the job, but I was a horrible assistant, plus I'm not very strong and have self-diagnosed ADD. Assisting is mostly carrying things and staying alert. But I am still learning.
Is a degree necessary to pursue a career in photography?
No. I think school can teach you how to develop a point of view through history, critique, and technical skills. But there are plenty of artists who have developed their point of view on their own, simply by believing in and being passionate about their own work, sometimes to the point of obsession. I went to school for music, and ended up pursuing photography. I always felt insecure about my own technical skills, but I've learned that's its more about content.
How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I hate talking about my own work! I would like to think its constantly evolving, but always with an element of emotion and yearning.
What's been your career highlight so far?
Shooting for i-D! Also, just to be able to have developed relationships with incredible artists — editors, stylists, hair, makeup — that I genuinely love shooting the shit with. That's special to me.
Finish this sentence: New year, new....
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
That people learn to be more empathetic to one another and help each other rather than criticize or judge and shame one another. It's more constructive.
Who would you most like to shoot?
Patti Smith, Whoopi Goldberg.
Who is the photographer whose work you most admire?
That's a hard one, so many masters as well as new talent. I guess I would have to go with Steven Meisel if I had to choose only one.
Where in the world would you most like to photograph?
That's another hard one... Every place is different and unique. But currently, I have been obsessed looking at pictures of locations of Cuba. It's frozen in time there, but I don't know how long it will stay like that.
Where do you go to feel creatively inspired?
Anywhere! The streets. 12 step meetings. Driving in my car. Lying in my bed. Instagram creeping.