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Inspirations >> Photos & People

Shavonne Wong – the Self-taught Fashion Photographer

This young Singaporean photographer picked up photography on her own while waiting to start college five years ago, and was named one of Herworld's ”25 Scene Shakers Under 25” in 2012. Today, she counts Cosmopolitan Hong Kong, Singapore’s National Library Board and Metro among her many clients.

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This image was taken in New York's Grand Central Station. It was selected as the Gold winner in the Graphis Photography Annual 2015.

It all started innocently enough. Singapore-based photographer Shavonne Wong didn't initially plan to be one - she had studied 3D animation at college and was planning to further her studies in Vancouver. In a bid to kill time before school started, Shavonne - also known as Zhiffy – started flipping through fashion magazines and decided to pick up fashion photography as a hobby. A few months in, she decided that she had found her "calling in life" and the rest, as they say, was history.

A shot for the Singapore edition of Her World Brides in 2014.

1. What motivated you to pursue photography?

It's a very uninspiring story - no grandfather handing down an ancient camera to me and telling me to continue his legacy. I had just finished my internship two months before most of my peers so I had a lot of free time and no friends to spend it with. In short, I was bored.

2. What spurred you to pick photography up yourself instead of going to art school?

I guess I didn't go to school for it as I went into photography not thinking that it'll be a career path. It was just a fun side hobby till I actually started getting paid for it.

3. How would you describe your photography style?

Colourful, strong and dreamy.

4. What struggles did you face when you started out in the industry?

It was hard to find other people to work with when I didn't have a basic portfolio. Not many people would put in the time and effort to collaborate (with me) without knowing if they would benefit from it.

5. What is one skill that you think all photographers need?

Patience. Things take time and if you're constantly comparing yourself to the successes of others, you will end up bitter and frustrated. Enjoy the journey.

6. Is there any in particular photo shoot that stood out to you?

Hmm…every photoshoot is great in its own different way. It could be the team I'm working with, the location or the clothes. I always strive to make my most recent shoot my best, (which) seems like the best way to improve!

Another shoot done during her residency in SVA where she had free access to the studio. Floating balls were made of Styrofoam with glitter stuck on them.

7. You travelled to New York City in 2014 for a one month residency course at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), could you tell us more about the experience?

I’ve always wanted to go to New York and knowing myself, I wouldn’t be able to get anything done without any structure. So I decided to attend a one month residency course at the School of Visual Arts while I was there. Being forced to produce new work every week got the ball rolling and within the two months I was in there, I did about 8 different shoots. The city is filled with ridiculously talented creatives and it was a really good experience to be able to work with them.

Personally, I encourage people to go overseas and shoot as their (creative) eyes will just naturally open in a new environment.

From a test shoot in New York City, which was shot on the rooftop of her friend’s apartment. Shavonne relied on natural light only for this shot.

8. What do you carry in your bag all the time?

Other than the usual handphone, keys and wallet, (there's) probably also some random junk food, a couple of wet tissues packets from restaurants and the ridiculously oversized charger I took from my boyfriend.

9. What kind of Canon camera and lens are you using the most at the moment?

My EOS 5D Mark II, EF85mm f/1.8 USM, EF50mm f/1.2L USM and EF35mm f/1.4L USM. I'm hoping to get the EOS 5D Mark III (Body) and the EF135mm f/2L USM!

Shavonne Wong

Shavonne Wong is an award-winning photographer based in Singapore. As a fashion photographer, her field of specialization functions as an avenue for her to express and cultivate this interest, specifically in producing images that capture the heart, soul and character of a person beyond that of the outward appearance. It also gives her the chance to work with other amazingly talented people and for prominent brands, while photographing exquisite clothing and gorgeous models.