WE TURNED ONE.

Toronto is a talent trove. So when we were thinking of ways to capture our anniversary collection, keeping it local was a no brainer. We connected with photographers Mia Yaguchi-Chow and Evangeline Davis - young female artists who approached the project with so much enthusiasm and creativity. 

To celebrate our ethos of constantly trying new things, we asked our photographers to create images in line with our aesthetics but that could reflect their own art. The challenge? That was their only directive.

With only one week to execute, Mia and Evie (who worked independently) pulled off two stunning and unique shoots.

We wanted to work with up-and-coming female artists and shine a light on their art - but also, the back end of the process. Scroll down to read more about Mia, Evie, and of course, to see what they came up with.  

 

 

 

Q&A with Mia Yaguchi-Chow

 

NEOPHYTE JEWELS: What were you trying to capture when photographing our anniversary collection?

MIA YAGUCHI-CHOW: For starters, whenever I prepare to photograph for someone or something other than myself - a fashion or accessory brand for example - I always have a look at their products, their social media, their website, and everything that communicates what they stand for. The impressions I get from Neophyte are feminine, cute, expressive, bold, and statement-making. But some products, in my mind, may be more bold than others, or more feminine than others, and so on. For example, the white pearl hair clips are softer, whereas the "dang it" star clips are bolder and are very explicitly expressive. With the new anniversary collection, I basically wanted to express my interpretation of the collection and the two pieces, along with communicating my own perspective and style when it comes to art direction and photography. Hopefully I did a good job at balancing the two!

NJ: You do a lot of (incredibly beautiful, fun, and sometimes off-beat) shoots both for your own art and for brands and editorials. For a lot of people, I’m sure these shoots just look like a really fun job and perhaps don’t know the hours that go into creating a vision and seeing it through. Can you take us through the process of creation, from the concept inception to the final product that we see?

MYC: Well first off, thank you! And generally speaking for myself at least, shoots are indeed lots of fun! But also, indeed, require many hours of - not just the shooting itself - but developing ideas, doing research, figuring out prop and fashion styling, and basically just making sure all the puzzle pieces fit into one another. When it comes to my creative work, and any other facet of my life for that matter, good communication is one of the biggest things I advocate for; this makes the ideation process even lengthier but it's with the intention that what I try to visually represent accurately communicates what I have in mind. 

Prior to shooting, I always research all aspects of my subject to help with inspiration but also to develop a better understanding of what exactly my subject is, then compare my findings to my own interpretation of everything. Mixing all my findings of my research together helps me develop a concept and theme. I also like to make mood boards and reference boards for myself and anyone else who would need to see it so both myself and others can get an idea of what colours I intend on including, fashion direction, general attitudes, etc. Then I do a bunch of sketches to see what kind of compositions I can come up with, what visuals may communicate my ideas best, and determine what is and isn't physically feasible on the day of the shoot. After this is when I try to collect all my props, equipment, clothing, organize models, things like that. Already at this point, I'm working on all of this throughout different points over the course of multiple days.

For this particular shoot, I decided to shoot both off-figure and on (shots with only the jewelry and shots with the jewelry modelled by... a model!). Things like jewelry I feel like give creators like myself a good opportunity to try and personify a non-living thing and give life to something that doesn't technically have any. And the benefits of having a model is showing viewers what it actually looks like when worn. Both have very different purposes but are equally significant in my mind. With all this said, I spent about 9 straight hours shooting, with an added hour or so setting up my set the night before. I started at 8 AM shooting off-figure, and my model arrived around 1 PM which is when we started shooting that portion. You can add an extra total day or so for editing when I'm the one in charge of that.

What I do requires a lot of work but I love what I do. Say what you mean and mean what you say! I apply the same principle to my creative work.

 

NJ: Since the advent of Instagram, there’s been a bit of debate between photographers about the pros and cons of the app - I’ve read some interviews that discuss creating content that you know will get likes versus artistic content that is true to your artistic integrity. Do you ever feel torn between popular wants and your own vision?

MYC: I'll be honest; I share a very odd relationship with how my work and I are portrayed on Instagram. I've been posting my work (creative, commercial, personal, casual, etc) on my account for quite a few years now and ever since I started, I've had friends, family, even strangers expressing how much they love the things I post - even the pictures of my everyday surroundings. Things like that really interest me as, to me, it's just casual photography, but clearly, to others, it's something greater. Although things like "likes" don't ultimately mean much to me, I think when I was younger, I used to notice that particular things such as simple photography or illustrations wouldn't get as many likes as other posts like my selfies or more intricate illustrations. But at this point, it seems that I've somewhat developed a following that seems to like most if not all my content. I don't know if it's because I mix my work with my personal posts giving it a bit of vulnerability and a personal aspect to it, or maybe I've become more confident in my personal works to the point where the number of likes toward one post versus the other matters less, but these days I find myself posting whatever I like. I've started posting on a more professional, business account over the summer and I think applying more attention to what and how I post will be beneficial, but in terms of my personal account, these days I'm not particularly torn. Gotta believe in yourself, yo! Stay true. 

NJ: What inspires you?

MYC: This may sound REALLY self-centred, but a fundamental source of inspiration for myself is... myself, to say the least. I find that this helps me achieve optimal originality and creates a deeper relationship between myself, my work, and the viewer. I like to pull inspiration from my ethnic culture (Japanese and Chinese), memories of my childhood, my upbringing, my current self, and everything in between. Basically, everything that makes me... me! But another huge portion of my inspiration also definitely comes from popular culture.

Music has always played the biggest role in my life and I've grown up being surrounded by people who like all kinds of genres (which relates to what kind of music I like today) and this has provided me with the opportunity over time to engage in different cultures of the music world, from punk rock to Motown. Music inspires and influences so many aspects of culture from fashion to lifestyle, especially my own. With that said, I also pull a lot of inspiration from past cultural decades, such as the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, not only from things I've seen in the past but also because my parents lived their youth within those decades.

I have always shared a really close relationship with my parents and I find them to genuinely be quite creative and vibrant individuals. From their past lifestyles, fashion sense, music taste, artistic and creative pursuits, I definitely pull a lot of inspiration from them. They're not "artists" per se, but they have a very deep appreciation for art and certainly apply their intense creativity to anything that could possibly use it. They're both very passionate individuals and everything about them plays a big role in how I pursue myself and my work, without a doubt.

Honestly, I could keep going. I feel like almost everything inspires me. My friends, nature, philosophy, there's a lot more. To keep this simple, life has so much to offer, how can you NOT be inspired by everything? Is that cheesy?

NJ: What's the most challenging aspect of photography? How do you approach it?

MYC: I think the most challenging aspect of photography for me is actually, fully, accurately communicating everything and making sure each piece fits with the other. I definitely try my best, but one can only work within their own limits; what may be accurate communication to me may be the opposite to another; acknowledging the differences in perspectives is what makes my job more difficult. To combat this, I try to open a dialogue between me and everyone involved in the project to gain perspectives outside of my own and get a better understanding at all the available ways to see the same thing. This is especially useful for the more subjective concepts that try to evoke or represent feelings or emotions.

NJ: What are you a Neophyte at?

MYC: Aside from technical skills that I've developed over time, I would honestly say I'm a neophyte at everything. Every day. New things and new experiences approach me (or vice versa) every day and things that may seem familiar to me may surprise me and prove to trigger a completely new response or reaction from me. Yeah, I've been practicing visual arts and such for my whole life now, but I'm learning and building on my intellect and skills constantly. This might be SO cheesy and hyper-philosophical, but life is full of surprises and as that's happening, I'm simultaneously changing as a person too. Somethings I may forget then relearn, things I thought were true may prove to be false, and so on. For a more concrete answer, I'll say I'm a neophyte at trying to maintain a more organized lifestyle, such as keeping my bedroom floor clean and my clothes in the closet. (lol)

 

Q&A with Evangeline Davis

 

NEOPHYTE JEWELS: What were you trying to capture when photographing our anniversary collection?

EVANGELINE DAVIS: Mallory, my beautiful friend, was the muse behind this shoot – I knew I wanted to photograph her before I had even seen the collection. I wanted to capture an effortless and somewhat romantic version of femininity that hinted at nostalgia and escapism. We ended up shooting in my backyard using the evening light and some material from around my home. 

 

NJ: You do a lot of (incredibly beautiful, fun, and sometimes off-beat) shoots both for your own art and for brands and editorials. For a lot of people, I’m sure these shoots just look like a really fun job and perhaps dont know the hours that go into creating a vision and seeing it through. Can you take us through the process of creation, from the concept inception to the final product that we see?

ED: Thanks gal! My process varies but it’s completely intuitive. Sometimes I’m inspired by a piece of clothing I find in a thrift store or a new location, other times I’m just really interested in photographing a friend or working with a brand. I shoot collaboratively, so I throw ideas around with whomever I’m working with, then from there I’m able to refine the overall concept (sometimes this can be as quick as my lunch break at work). And then there’s the shoot – I shoot on analogue, which tends to be a slower process with limited frames, but in this digital age where we spend so much time looking at screens, I enjoy the simplicity of film-photography.

 

NJ: Since the advent of Instagram, there’s been a bit of debate between photographers about the pros and cons of the app - Ive read some interviews that discuss creating content that you know will get likes versus artistic content that is true to your artistic integrity. Do you ever feel torn between popular wants and your own vision?

ED: I’ve started to care less and less about popularity and “likes” and focused more on work that has longevity. Sometimes I favour images of mine because of the memory of when it was taken, or if the subject photographed is a close friend… yet my audience doesn’t have this connection to the image and once it is out there I have little control over how it will be perceived, so I try to be as authentic as possible with the content I choose to share. 

  

NJ: What inspires you? 

ED: I find inspiration in my mundane day-to-day - people with unique personal-style, natural light, thrift-store finds, interior spaces, politics, etc. Though since moving to Canada the weather and ever-changing environment has been a huge influence toward my photographic practice. 

 

NJ: What's the most challenging aspect of photography? How do you approach it?

ED: There are always so many challenges (photography really is a lot of problem-solving) but truthfully I find it hard to be taken seriously in an industry that has historically been dominated by men. I’ve come to find this is a shared experience (which continues to come up in conversation) but I try to focus my attention on all the femme photographers/artists that are absolutely slaying!

 

NJ: What are you a Neophyte at?

ED: Canadian winters! Yikes!

 

~Thank you again to Mia and Evie for lending their time and talent. It is so appreciated.~

 

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