A sense for beauty

W Studio grew quite famous after publishing controversial photographs of Sister Xiao Dong showing off his female form. We sat down with them to talk about being an artist in the mainstream media age.

1116_what-do-they-knowThe sprawling, steely W Studio has a distinctly futuristic aura and is covered with all kinds of photo prints and the equipment needed to capture them. Run by Laurie Zhang and Eamon Wang, it has already been making quite a name for itself, thanks to the savvy strategy of Laurie and visionary camera work from Eamon.

“Human eyes can see what they see. With a camera, we can take out what we don’t want to see. To do this, you need to have a passion about what will be in the frame and how the picture will look,” Eamon told us as he discussed his approach to photography.

The sense of artistry is really, something of a constant. Though it can be nurtured to be more potent or dimmed through neglect, it is not something that can be lost completely or ever forgotten. For Eamon, the artistic impulse occurred to him at quite a young age.

“When I was little, I used to create flip motion drawings and my mother noticed my creative ability. As I grew, my mother supported my work, and at first my father didn’t, but he eventually came around. I am lucky they support me,” he mentioned. The ground work had been laid for a future of talent. With his parents blessing, he grabbed hold of the opportunity and progressed.

“Photography is like making a documentary. It’s discovering all the little details in every shot. In painting, you can create anything you want, real or not. Because of this I need both mediums to satisfy my artistic needs. I actually believe painting and photography are very different forms of art.”

At the conclusion of high school, Eamon went on to study painting at a prestigious art school in Northern China. While he spent most of his early university years in the studio, it was then that he belatedly discovered the camera.

“Before, I was using painting to present the ideas in my mind. One day, I thought, there’s a simpler way to do this. So, I went and bought a camera,” he explained of his sudden transition from the canvas to film.

There’s no question that today’s photography is a radically different medium to what it was half a century ago. With seemingly unlimited storage space to take endless pictures and powerful software to perfect even the most minute details on any image, the bar has been raised for what was once unreachable for amateur artists.

“Digital cameras make my fantasy easier to create, but require more time to fix after shooting. With film, it’s classic. In the old days, you didn’t have Photoshop; what you took is what you got. I personally like film better, but I have to use digital because we need to do touchups for portrait work. Film is more real, but technology makes the impossible possible,” he said as he discussed the pros and cons of hanging onto the past or flying into the future.

After finishing at up at school, Eamon began to approach photography in a more serious way, leveraging social media to build a respectable following. After a short time had passed, he had already collected thousands of fans.

Encouraged by his beautiful photos and growing fan base, people began asking him how much he would charge to take their portraits and wedding pictures. At first, it was just a few here and there, but then one day he decided to publish a price list and suddenly, the orders came flooding in. Nearly overnight, he became an Internet sensation and in two months, his fans grew from 6,000 to 60,000 fans.

After traveling the world shooting weddings and even having his studio franchised, he has now simplified his life and exclusively dedicates his time to W Studio. I wondered if he’d ever return to painting.

“Photography is like making a documentary. It’s discovering all the little details in every shot. In painting, you can create anything you want, real or not. Because of this I need both mediums to satisfy my artistic needs. I actually believe painting and photography are very different forms of art,” he declared. In a sense, creativity is universal and it’s the medium that is the defining factor, which might seem obvious, but is not always immediately apparent.

Though Eamon’s still a fairly young man, his career has moved quickly, thanks to his own obsessive work ethic and the continuous backing of his family and friends. Even with his unique artistic eye, he must continuously put in long hours to bring his pieces as close to perfection as possible. Arriving to this level of fame was even more challenging.

“Young, up-and-coming artists need to work hard because it’s not an easy path. Many parents don’t want to discover these talents from their children because they think they know better. In order to do [art], you must prove that you have a wealth of skill and passion. If you can convince your parents of that, you can convince anyone,” he said.

In short, don’t ever give up on your dreams, and if you do, it’s only you that’s left to blame.