Monday, September 16, 2013

Xi Sinsong: Fashionably Young

By William Sawalich. Photography By Xi Sinsong Published in Photographer Profiles
"Xi Sinsong is an image maker," states the photographer's About page, yet it's this minimal approach to design that has given the young photographer a powerful and bold portfolio of fashion images. She has no problem oscillating back and forth between brightly lit, poppier color work and a much more restricted color palette of refined monochromatic tones, but her compositions are absolutely minimal, focusing largely on tightly orchestrated geometric patterns that play against a backdrop of muted negative space. The imagery produced by this culmination is both thought-provoking and visually enticing, the hallmark of a successful fashion photographer.
"Xi Sinsong is an image maker," states the photographer's About page, yet it's this minimal approach to design that has given the young photographer a powerful and bold portfolio of fashion images. She has no problem oscillating back and forth between brightly lit, poppier color work and a much more restricted color palette of refined monochromatic tones, but her compositions are absolutely minimal, focusing largely on tightly orchestrated geometric patterns that play against a backdrop of muted negative space. The imagery produced by this culmination is both thought-provoking and visually enticing, the hallmark of a successful fashion photographer.
Sinsong says her work comes from many hours of previsualization and preparation while the final composition is a fully collaborative piece between Sinsong and any of several associates who she has gathered along the way. Born and raised in China, the photographer now lives and works out of New York. "As a photographer," she explains, "I'll make a shoot I'm kind of proud of, and then two weeks later I kind of don't like it anymore. There are always other things to be created. We're in this era where technology and science are so advanced, I feel like there's a lot of need to learn and at the same time to create. It's curiosity."

Adds Sinsong, "It really can be that simple because what is there to hold you back? Unless it's a really financially demanding project, if it's something that you can easily change around with whatever is around you, it's quite easy to experiment. All you have to do is pick out some colors for that shoot, or whatever."

Trading big budgets for creative freedom has always been a staple of the editorial photographer's process, but for Sinsong, these shoots aren't simply about luring paying clients. Sure, she's laying the groundwork for a successful fashion photography career, but she's also simply fulfilling her artistic vision—making art for art's sake. Without the latter, the former would be less likely because her work simply wouldn't be as interesting.

"Getting the paying clients isn't the ultimate," she says. "It's part of the goal because I do want to work as a photographer. But doing those editorial works isn't just to make money. It's an artistic expression and an exercise. It's what makes a lot of things worthwhile in life."

As refined as her portfolio may be, Sinsong still doesn't think of herself as having arrived, nor does she consider herself just a student. She's somewhere in between, and as such, she's free to pursue the type of work she wants to with the hope that it will be picked up and eventually deliver her to a career making visual art in the fashion industry.

"I wouldn't call myself a successful photographer," Sinsong says. "Nothing is really steady at the moment. I'm trying to work a lot and make photographs, but compared to a lot of people who have a lot more steady careers, I'm in the very beginning of it. I'm still trying to build a base on the amount of publications I can get. If I'm not shooting for a client, even if it's without a formal agreement from a magazine, I'll try to submit it somewhere to get it published. It started off with a lot of really small online magazines. They're pretty young, as well. It's a co-relationship. As my team and my work mature, we've started contacting bigger magazines. Some of them respond and some of them don't."


Adds Sinsong, "I've had my first steps into a career. I feel like even when we get out of school, we're still learning, always learning about things. I went into school with the idea that I wanted to make a career as a photographer. I think from day one I went in with this goal and now I'm in it. I would say I'm in it, but there's still a long way to go."

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