Yanyan Zhao
Yanyan Zhao

Yanyan Zhao

TIFA 2023 Interview with Yanyan Zhao
1st Place winner in Portfolio, Non-Professional, “A Room of One’s Own”

Q: Can you briefly tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue photography?

I’m from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. Currently studying master degree at the University of the Arts London, my undergraduate degree is in Graphic Design, but during my sophomore year I realised that my interest is more towards photography. Addicted to the fascination of photography to capture and convey meaning. The feeling of constructing and capturing a moment is mesmerising.That’s why I chose to specialise in photography at Masters level. When I came to London to complete my MA, I embraced a more diverse and expansive range of art and culture, and I loved photography even more. And using it as a medium to explore inwards while feeling connected to the wider world.

Q: What drove you to submit your work to the TIFA competition and your thoughts on how winning this competition impacted your artistic journey?

It was a complex composition, and one of my favourite photographers had previously shared a winning experience of entering this photo competition. Also, I aspired to a broader international platform. And I’ve always been curious about the art scene in Tokyo, so I want to take this opportunity to experience it. I feel that this award has mainly inspired me to continue this project with the confidence to go deeper and complete it successfully.

Q: Could you describe any challenges you faced while capturing this moment (winning image/s)?

I felt that one of the more difficult parts was about the exploration of women’s bodies and identities, probably because of the relatively conservative culture of East Asia. Models willing to discuss this topic are not particularly easy to find.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important factors in creating great images?

I think it’s the concept and idea behind the photo, and how it’s conveyed through photography.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of photography?

Ideal and real results won’t be the same, but that uncertainty is part of the appeal of photography.

Q: What motivates and drives your photography?

Related to my own upbringing and psychological state, I am very interested in East Asian feminism. That’s why I made this series in the first place.

Q: What’s next for you in your career as a photographer?

In these two years I want to continue to refine this project, which I feel is not yet complete. Then think about other future projects.Will want to experiment with new mediums in the future.