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Shiya Zhao
Chantale Nadeau's Shiya Zhao
by Geneviève Caron

Through The Lens

Geneviève Caron

September 24, 2009, by Chelsea Coyle

Location
Toronto

Website
www.genevievecaron.com

What photographers have influenced you, and how?
Richard Avedon, for his minimalist approach and his belief that less is more. Guy Bourdin, for the surrealism and strong compositions. Jean-Loup Sieff, for his beautiful black and white, and for his ability to convey mystery with simple means.

Did you have a moment when you realized, within yourself, that you were skilled enough to do this for a living and if so when was that or what was it like?
I graduated as a graphic designer and worked in several studios and advertising agencies. After a few years, I realized I wasn't following my path, I hated my job and was stressing out over way too many things. I decided to take a two week holiday all by myself, a sort of road trip of the soul, to try to figure out what to do next. Then with the help of an amazing coach, I explored a few options and opted for photography. I quit my job and started at the bottom of the ladder, working as a junior assistant for a photographer I used to hire when I was a graphic designer! Then slowly I learned all the technical aspects of photography, fortunately just before it all became digital. I had the chance to learn the rigor of shooting film and transparencies, which still serves me to this day.

After a few years of really hard work I had a consistent portfolio and was able to find an agent in Toronto.

What inspires you to continue shooting and how do you keep motivated when a certain shot or moment just doesn't happen?
That's a good question. Inspiration is something that needs to be nurtured and cared for on a regular basis. It's easy to get distracted when so many other aspects of your life require your attention and energy. On a more specific level, during a shoot, it's important for me to stay connected with my inner-voice, to slow down the process when everything is pressing you to hurry, to make sure that we get something magic. There's always a beautiful and interesting solution, you just have to put yourself in a position where you can catch it. Not fear anything. Have trust.

As a photographer (and sometimes art director!), where do you find your own artistic inspiration?
The conscious inspiration comes a lot from the discoveries I do during my travels. I was recently in Italy and saw beautiful work by Bellini and Mantegna, whom I didn't know very well. Beyond impeccable plastic qualities, their work had very ingenious ways of adding depth and tridimentionality onto the flat surface. I am also very sensitive to the architecture you encounter in Italy, both for the proportions and for the color combination and textures used.

What is your favourite shoot to date?
I would say the Iceland shoot. There was something so special in being part of this place, through its people.

What do you look for when casting?
It depends what the project is. Personally I am usually inspired by people who have a certain mystery about them, who reveal themselves slowly. On a purely physiological level I tend to prefer paler hair, eyes and skin, although I also find Asian faces very interesting. I love freckles, long fine fingers, and luminous skin. Models who have an understanding and awareness of their body language, either through dance education or gymnastics, are also likely to understand their work better.

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