Yes, you read that right. Lean Lui, a 21-year-old artist from Hong Kong who recently embarked upon CSM's Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies postgraduate program is already shooting for the one and only Dior. And to make it even more spectacular, Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri is raving about her. She has said to British Vogue, “I was really struck by her sense of awareness and her natural ability to engage with a young woman like her, intuitively and respectfully capturing the more intimate aspects of her character. She represents a new generation of artists and photographers who are reinventing fashion photography and above all, deconstructing the stereotypes associated with portraying women.’ And now she has shot the powerhouse Global 2021 Cruise Global Campaign. So where’s the frame? was thrilled to ask the young creative a couple of questions about this incredible achievement.
You are only 21 and just started your Photo MA photography and philosophy at Central Saint Martins. Do you feel like this has influenced your practice? If so, in what ways?
Yes, the course just started but I already feel its influences. For example, we need to redefine so many things like what does Photography mean in the 21st century, what makes photography/image happen/work…
Are you interested in specific philosophical concepts? Are there any concepts you want to explore during your MA?
Yes, my context is always surrounded in Chineses philosophy, especially Daoism.
You just shot a very artistic shoot for DIOR. How did this come about? When and how did you shoot it?
MFHK’s editor Karen Ling saw my news feature about Three-shadow Photography Award. She recommended me to DIOR, MGC [Maria Grazia Chiuri] loves my style and ask me to have a shoot with her daughter Rachele. After, DIOR invited me to shoot for Dior Magazine. Then DIOR TALKS, then this campaign. MGC told me that she picked me personally for this campaign cause she loves the series “Re-define, I-define” ( the series in MFHK) I shot for Rachele, the atmosphere and how I present the fashion. I am extremely blessed and excited. To be honest, I was very surprised and shocked that MG found me to do the campaign cause I don’t have any commercial shooting experience at all and a global campaign is a very crucial and heavy thing to a brand. I really admire her courage for using a new, unknown young artist like me.
How was the creative process for the latest DIOR shoot? How did you arrive at this artistic style? Where do you draw inspiration from? What was the mood you were going for during this shoot?
We tried different vibes, poetic, dramatic, cinematic … Didn’t regard it as a series of fashion shooting and commercial camping but as art creation. It's fiercer than my usual work.
Did you want to be experimental during these shoots or were there restrictions? Any fun insights you want to share?
At first, the team was a bit worried that my style will be too abstract and artsy for the commercial campaign, for example, I always do super close-up and detailed shots, but in a campaign, we need to take care of the production as well. However, it turned out perfectly, we combined our preferences on a very good balance point. They love my close-ups and the team even built me a pool, allowed the dress into the water, I got my favorite shots in this setting.
The people I worked with are amazing, I very much enjoyed the working environment. I like Fabien Baron (Art Director) because he is a very straightforward person as am I. If he hates something he will just tell it straight, he knows what he wants very clearly, also with the strictest standards. DIOR side took care of me very well, they really respected my feelings and creative freedom and gave me an abundance of confidence. Besides, the team members are all the top people in their industry, like Guido Palau (hair), Peter Philips (makeup) also the lighting and digital team, this production showed me the highest standard of work.
Any tips for other art school students and recent grads?
Actions speak louder than words.
DIOR 2021 Cruise Global Campaign
Designer: Maria Grazia Chiuri
Photographer: Lean Lui
Art Director: Fabien Baron
Stylist: Elin Svahn
Hair: Guido Palau
Makeup: Peter Philips
Digital : Digitart Paris
Assistans: Lavinia De Alessandri, Alex Cacciabue, Yvonne Princess