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Inspirations >> Photos & People

A Fashion Photographer’s Rise to Fame

Despite having her work featured on international publications, fashion photographer Lenne Chai remains humble about her skills. As dreamy and quirky as her photographs, the young photographer shares tips for aspiring fashion photographers. (Reported by: Natalie Koh)

You would think that having photographed international model and actress Lily Cole, and having shot for NYLON Japan, Elle Girl Japan and Singapore publications including NYLON, Ziggy, Catalog and Juice, Lenne Chai has pretty much made it as a fashion photographer. But the quirky 24-year-old begs to differ.

"I don't feel like I've had a big break… yet, but I'm lucky to have had lots of fantastic opportunities come my way," she shares. "Most of my clients and collaborators contact me after discovering my work online, and as a result I've worked with international publications."

But she does admit that shooting Lily Cole was a rather admirable feat. "The highlight of my career so far is definitely working with Lily Cole. Still can’t believe it happened," she says candidly.

Evidently, one key factor to her success is, well, humility. And with that comes a knack for working hard, being patient and, surprisingly, saving money.

"Besides patiently accumulating experience like a Pokémon master, I secretly work jobs out of photography to save up," she opines. "I'm in a good place now, and the money I've saved up is now going to my studio's rental and utility bills. Baby steps!"

These are traits that young, aspiring photographers (as she once was) could learn from, though Lenne does have some added tips for them: "If you're genuinely interested in joining a field, you should definitely research on the industry you're hoping to become a part of. For instance, who are the top people in said field at the moment? Who do they like to collaborate with? What kind of work are they putting out?"

"It's good to look up to people overseas, but your understanding of the local industry is as important, if not more important than observing foreign trends," she adds. "No man is an island."

Lenne shoots with her trusty EOS 5D Mark II and channels her photography skills into causes she's passionate about.

"My biggest project to date is Karaoke Party, a three-part series of fashion films presented as karaoke videos, featuring fashion by local designers and music by local musicians such as Vanessa Fernandez, Gentle Bones, Masia One, Stopgap and more…" she gushes. "Through a platform as relatable and interactive as Karaoke, I thought it'd encourage more people to check out our local designers and musicians.

*Photos by Lenne Chai using the EOS 5D Mark II.

Lenne Chai

Based in Singapore, Lenne Chai is a fashion photographer featured in local and international publications such as NYLON Japan, Elle Girl (Japan), Harper's Bazaar Singapore, Designaré, and SPUR (Japan). She regularly spends time in Tokyo, where she has shot commercially for brands such as Bang & Olufsen. She enjoys creating with her own two hands, constructing sets and props to weave stories out of photographs.