Michele Yue

Q: What does it mean to be an Asian-American woman to you?

MY: “It is something I have learned to be very proud of. I am Chinese and can speak Mandarin. I love that my Chinese and American culture intermingle to create the bizarre creature I am today. I feel there’s a very delicate balance between my self-discipline and my need to be spontaneous and free.

Some years ago around this time, I met a 17-year-old kid after playing a pick up game of basketball together. He and I wandered all over the city talking all night and we quickly became friends. I think we both needed each other’s company at that moment. He would always tell me I had this darkness surrounding me. I said I felt it from him too but he said no, this was different. He then told me a story that I still remember. He said when his dog passed away, he buried all his memories with it and when he saw another dog he couldn’t even look at it until one day he couldn’t bear it and cried. He went home and dug up all the photos of his dog and remembered all the good times they had together. The next time he saw another dog he was sad but he could smile through the pain knowing that what they shared was a beautiful moment. He looked at me and told me, you need to revisit and remember all your pain. I never really knew what that meant until after we drifted apart but it might be the best advice I’ve ever received.

A New Journey

“Dull” is the first word that comes to mind with these images. It’s beautiful and boring and most of all, it’s just not me. I attempted a 90’s inspired shoot because my team and I thought it would be a good addition to our portfolio. But I realized I spent nearly 15 hrs from pre to post for these images and none of them satisfy my soul. Editing these was a nightmare because the make-up and hair team needed so many changes from me.

But despite all the dullness it gives me, it did spark something rather significant in me — that this is not what I want to create for myself. Knowing what I don’t like is half of figuring out of the rest. Since then, I’ve been filling my time with my imaginations. None of them have quite clicked but they have propelled me into another journey. And I’m always down for an adventure.

Triple Vanity

If you know me, I have a thing for mirrors and reflections. I love the play on duality and the way it elucidates angles that we cannot see ourselves. For this shoot, I thought, why not instead of one mirror or two mirrors, add a third one!

Something about this set, hair/makeup and flash bouncing off the mirror reminded me of those old school Hollywood photographs of movie stars. So that’s what I went for — except I wanted a modern twist so I opted for cool tones and a pop of neon. If you zoom in, you’ll actually notice that the model’s earring is a red lip that matches hers. I love the little details and how they play off of the mood to create something more funky, unique and modern.

For this set, I used the Profoto A1 flash with a silver umbrella. The mirrors reflected the light back and illuminated the model’s face so I didn’t feel like I needed any other lights. However, I did have to retouch some clutter in the reflections but that was pretty simple; since the background is black, I brushed all the mess in with black. The strobe lighting in the back is both done in-camera and enhanced in photoshop using the lens flare tool. I went for the “Movie Prime” selection to reflect back on the old school movie theme.

This is one of my favorite photographs of 2018. I also think the crisp lighting and dramatic makeup could also pass as a Tom Ford or NARS beauty campaign!

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Model - @GraceCotton
MUA - @Noparast.MUA
Styling/Creative Direction/Photo - @TheMusingEye

Le Rendez Vous

Time and time again, I learn that the best moments in life are the unplanned ones — like this photoshoot. The night before, my makeup artist, Rebecca (@noparast.mua) and I decided to do a test shoot with model Grace Cotton (@gracecotton) with no plan or mood board. We were too burnt out to think of anything creative and decided to see if the god of impulse would be in our favor.

When everyone arrived the next day, we were inspired by a gold, sparkly net fabric I had lying around. Since the holidays were right around the corner, we decide to go for some glam. We started off with a classic portrait lighting and a blue backdrop but it was just too over-the-top with the curled hair and glitter make-up. The set needed to be deconstructed.

Immediately, I put this velvet orange/rust fabric on the floor and had Grace lay down. Slowly, we undid some things and it felt much more natural. I styled some Maison Close jeweled gloves with dainty gold chains on her and everything began to come together.

I shot through the gold net fabric which gave the images a diffused glowy lighting. Similar to the previous shoot, I bounced my Profoto A1 flash onto a gold reflector, to achieve a golden light. Femme fatale with a warm twist. Mmmm…it’s like she came back to her hotel room after a rendezvous with her lover…

Model - @gracecotton
MUA - @noparast.mua
Photo & Styling - @themusingeye