In part 2 of Universal Medicine Exposed’s Interview with Adele Leung’s Fashion Alchemist she shares with us about modelling and fashion shoots – a revealing expose in to the world of the fashion industry . . .
UME: When did you start modelling and why?
Well, the modelling was very recent. Working in the industry for almost 20 years, it’s interesting that for most of the years I had not asked any photographer to take any photos of myself. Actually to be very honest, I didn’t trust them to take photos, and I wasn’t comfortable to be in front of the camera.
But some years ago I felt a change in myself. In 2012 I had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. That was a wake up call for me and the steps I took reawakened a connection inside myself that I hadn’t previously lived. Deepening care for myself in daily life, I began to feel much more myself, and the protection that I carried with me most of my life began to drop off. I simply did not want to hide anymore. I felt my own awesomeness and it felt natural to share it.
I worked with a new photographer who came from Russia. I’d never worked with him before, but because of the opportunity, and probably that I didn’t know him so much, and he didn’t know me, I asked if he could take some photos for me. He agreed and that was the beginning of opening the Pandora’s box.
UME: What quality is it in the photographer that is so crucial in the relationship between model and photographer?
It was absolutely that a photographer had to allow me to be me, but most of the time I didn’t feel that because most of the photographers I worked with I’d known for 15 or more years and I was very different then. But now because of our friendship, our relationship, it felt different.
And then there was my hiding as well – I didn’t allow photographers to see who I really was, and then of course they would hold a perception of who they think I am, who they see me to be, so I felt if I stood in front of the camera and they still had that perception of me, the photo would never be true. That’s why I asked a person that I’d never met before to photograph me because I knew he would have a less of a perception.
UME: What do you normally observe happens in fashion shoots?
What I observe is that the photographer is – most of the time – in a supremacist kind of position towards the models. They direct and tell the model what to do, exactly how they want it to be.
The model is in a situation where she is following or trying to fulfil the wishes of the photographer . . . and I see there’s an impossibility in this whole situation. Basically it is just not true, it’s fake – you might pretend to do something but it’s never really what you want to do – so it’s a lot of acting, which doesn't feel great.
So now with my work I liaise between the model and the photographer, understand what the photographer wants, is asking, and then go to the model and see if there’s a way we can actually express that through . . . not from a “putting up” or a fake-ness but from how she feels to express from inside so I am in a kind of a ‘mediator’ position you may say.
UME: You are able to bring these amazing qualities and understanding that you have now, to these shoots, this must be incredibly supportive for everyone around you?
My job is to bring harmony between everyone within the shoot so that every single party actually works together rather than individually, so there’s a kind of tying together, a flow or an energy that works with every part, and brings those parts all together for the full picture that becomes the end result. The end result comes from what occurs during the process of the shoot.
UME: So it’s the alchemy, the harmony of the relationship between people that’s actually being reflected through what has been produced. This must have a huge effect on the product?
Everything is felt, myself with the team and the people that work in the project, and you can find that in a lot of the testimonials on my website, but we’re now bringing a deeper aspect, and this effect is being felt by people who just look at the product. If they’re not involved with us in the photo shoot for example, it is how they would still get that feeling. ‘Feeling’ is not the main communication tool in the world at the moment, but that is what we’re trying to go deeper with in our photo shoots.
UME: Looking at the photos on your website you can feel there’s a beautiful depth that comes with them. You seem to have a way that allows people to truly be themselves.
Absolutely, what I see in every single person, is the divineness in them and that there is something gorgeous to be accessed. There does feel to be supremacy, a controlling approach in our industry about what looks cool, what looks good, what looks beautiful and who directs it. I felt that the definition of this – of what beauty is and what cool is – is actually not true. What I’ve done in the past is, I’ve stepped in and directed in a way saying ‘look this is true’ but I’ve found that that is still a control on my part, which I’m letting go of, and now allowing people, holding them knowing and seeing that they have divinity and that if they have the space, they express it as they want to. That’s my role as the mediator in a shoot, allowing that space.
part 3 soon . . .
Adele Leung Lives in Hong Kong.