We shine the spotlight on photographer extraordinaire, Lenne Chai, who is well-loved for her pastel-powered images and unconventional projects that celebrate fashion, femininity, quirkiness and…karaoke?
Hi Lenne. Can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in professional photography?
I’m predominantly a fashion photographer who creates youthful, dreamy and feminine imagery. I love constructing sets and props to weave stories out of photographs.
Fashion was a mystery to me as a child and I’ve always dreamt of working in the industry. My first experience with photography was through a module on Photojournalism in my final year as a Mass Communication student, and my lecturer was a photojournalist at The Straits Times.
He recommended me for an internship, and the rest is history. It’s been five years since.
Was photography something you knew you wanted to do since you were young or did it just serendipitously happen?
I think the fashion industry as a whole fascinated me as a young girl. My mother isn’t vain or particularly fashion-conscious, so that contributed to the enigmatic quality of it.
The only information available to me was fashion magazines and I was always impressed by how concepts were presented through styling and photography.
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What would you say are the highlights of your career so far? What are the projects that make you go, “Wow, I can’t believe I did this”?
Working and living in Tokyo for three months in 2013 was a fantastic experience for a 21-year-old, but the highlight of my career so far is definitely working with model Lily Cole. I still can’t believe it happened.
Name us three photographers you look up to and what it is about their work that you admire.
The names change all the time, but Paolo Roversi, Tim Walker and Venetia Scott come to mind. What interests me the most about their work and fashion photography in general is the longevity of certain images and the short shelf life of others.
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You’ve dabbled in some interesting creative projects like Karaoke Party. Can you tell us more about it?
Karaoke Party is a series of three fashion films presented as karaoke videos, featuring fashion by local designers and music by local musicians.
I’m a karaoke maniac and have always wanted to do a series of fashion films disguised as a generic karaoke videos (the sort you get when you’ve selected a song missing the original music video at Teo Heng) about a year ago.
I thought that through a platform as relatable and interactive as karaoke, it’d encourage people to check out local designers and musicians. Hopefully, Karaoke Party is a good starting point for audiences interested in local music and fashion, but are unsure of where to begin.
I met embroidery artist Teresa Lim, aka Teeteeheehee, through work, and we bonded over our love for depressing and controversial literature, as well as our love for girls with bored looking eyes.
At that point, she was halfway through embroidering her sad Girl’s Club series and I suggested that we bring her sad girls to life through fashion photography.
We have done two series so far and I foresee us completing it when we’re 80. For the shoot, we constructed the set and props in my studio. Of course, she did most of the intricate details, while I just helped her clumsily cut and past things.
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Describe to us the ultimate shoot you would like to be a part of.
This changes all the time, but I’m currently dreaming of shooting after-hours in an empty museum.
For more information on Lenne Chai, visit her website at Lenne.photography and follow her on Instagram at @lenneigh