Behind the Lens: Jennifer Cheng
Photographer & Art director
"There's beauty in everything," photographer and art director Jennifer Cheng tells us, "even the thing most people consider ugly." And indeed, scrolling through the archives of her photographic oeuvre is akin to experiencing a deluge of half-forgotten dreams; there is a tangible sense of intimacy, an aching melancholy, a desire to delve deeper into the softness of a moment that seems to blink in and out of focus.
In Behind the Lens, we host candid conversations with image-makers near and far about their history, craft and purpose. Today, Jen talks to us about beauty, artistic intent and 'the female gaze.' "I want to share a piece of my inner world with the outer world," she says. "At the end of the day, that's the only legacy I can leave behind."
Occupation: Photographer, art director
Visual style: Simple, soft
Current state of mind: My brain feels slightly scrambled, but overall, at peace.
I like for there to be a certain feeling of contemplation, maybe even melancholy in my images - but that’s not planned. I’m not a documentary photographer, so I’m not trying to capture a moments as much as I'm trying to create a scene."
Introduction Chynna Lao
Images Jennifer Cheng
Not in the traditional sense, but there's beauty in everything, even the thing most people consider ugly.
Do you ever feel a struggle to balance commerce and art? Is it possible for the two to coexist?
I think it’s possible for the two to coexist. I don’t consider my work as art, so I personally don’t feel a struggle between the two.
In your work in photography and art direction, do you think that your femininity influences the kind of visuals you capture – a female gaze, so to speak?
Definitely. I don’t see or understand the world through male eyes, so I wouldn’t expect my work to reflect that. I find images of females that pander to the male gaze to be so boring and tired.
Do you ever worry about becoming stagnant as a creative? How do you continue to develop your artistic practice?
Becoming stagnant isn’t something I actively think about, probably because I’m constantly on the move, or putting myself in situations that are new and uncomfortable. Right now I’m still learning how to make images that match what’s in my head, so in that sense I’m still developing.
What is the perfect image, moving or otherwise?
I don’t know, but if you ever find out, please share.
Why do you do it – capture the world, take photographs, make art?
I make things because I want to share a piece of my inner world with the outer world. At the end of the day, that's the only legacy I can leave behind.
Do you find that the images you compose tend to centre around certain themes or ideas?
Simplicity is a visual theme I work with a lot. If conceptual themes reoccur in my work, I think they happen subconsciously. I like for there to be a certain feeling of contemplation, maybe even melancholy in my images - but that’s not planned. I’m not a documentary photographer, so I’m not trying to capture a moments as much as I'm trying to create a scene.