7 questions with Zalora's Fashion Game Changer of the Year, photographer Lenne Chai
It's all in the name, a friend of mine once told me. Just look at Willy Vanderperre, Juergen Teller, Nick Knight. Arresting visuals? Tick. A thought-provoking narrative? Tick, tick. But what seals the deal is a too-cool-for-school moniker that rolls off the tongue quicker than butter melts on hot toast.
Checking off the trinity closer to home is Lenne Chai — her appetite for hazy portraits and dreamy pastels have taken her to the fashion tomes beyond our sunny shores. Glossies the likes of Teen Vogue US and Elle Girl Japan have placed Chai's images in the hands of the fashion hungry the world over, but most recently, it's our leading homegrown e-tailer Zalora, that's tipped the young photographer as the talent to watch in Singapore. Marking their recent 5th anniversary with the Zalora Style Awards 2017 — a celebration acknowledging our outstanding local creatives — it was Chai who snagged arguably the most notable accolade of all: Fashion Game Changer of the Year.
Equipped with an eye for beauty and a hunger to flourish, it's needless to say that Lenne Chai is a name destined for the big leagues, and one that will soon be on everyone's lips.
What is it about photography that captured your interest, and how did you break into the industry?
The fashion industry as a whole has fascinated me since I was a young girl, and it just so happens that photography is the medium that I communicate my ideas best in.
How important is equipment when it comes to getting the shot? Are there other factors in your opinion that makes or breaks a shoot above all?
Lighting is everything to me. I think we've all seen examples of how good lighting can make your iPhone behave like a DSLR. That said, I personally find that it's the execution of an idea that can make or break a shoot.
What challenges do you face as a woman in the male-dominated photography landscape, and how do you overcome them?
Times have changed, and I'm lucky to be a female photographer in a time where we're no longer a rare find in the industry. I can't think of any challenges I've had to tackle that I'd attribute to my gender specifically, and I understand that I'm extremely lucky to be able to feel that way.
Speaking of change, share with us what the title Fashion Game Changer of the Year means to you.
I'm really surprised! I did not see it coming at all. I'm super appreciative, and it's nice to feel like I might be doing something right after all. I'm also more motivated than ever to push on as a fashion photographer. Thanks Zalora!
And, how do you think Zalora has impacted the online retail landscape in Singapore?
It's definitely upped the ante for online retailing in Singapore, especially with regards to delivery speed, and how returns and exchanges are handled.
What do you love most about the e-tailer?
The returns process is easily the most fuss-free I've experienced.
Lastly, what do you think is key for a photographer to continually grow in her work, and what's next for you?
In my opinion, discomfort is key... which is also why I'm leaving for Los Angeles in a couple of weeks! I plan to hang around for a few months, and glean as much experience as I can from the film and fashion industries there. Let's see what happens.