It all started with this photo…

(not shot by me! It’s a reference photo)

Many months ago, I found this photo in an online photo forum. The model bears an uncanny resemblance to Zoe, a model friend. I showed her the photo and she was excited to see an alter ego.

When I saw the photo, I interpreted it as a girl who is sickly depressed. Immediately I decided that if I were to do a shoot with this feel, it would have to be a story of a girl who is stricken with a disease and is dying. The story would capture her emotions and how she spent her dying days.

I never really went on to actually write out a script, until (you guessed it) I got hold of the Nikon D700. In a desperate bid to fully utilise the camera before I return to T3 Magazine, I once again showed the photo to Zoe while planning for the other portraiture shoot with Emi. That stirred her interest once again and from there on, I quickly drafted the story.

This story was shot in less than 4 hours, and I consider that an achievement, having considered the number of scenes we have to cover. Admittedly, the execution wasn’t perfect. In the midst of the shoot, I kindda blanked out, not able to visualise how to capture the last moments. The only thing that is perfect is the weather: it was raining the whole morning, giving the desired gloomy atmosphere.

Of the entire photostory, the only scene that is executed as what I had visualised was the falling-stairs scene. I knew exactly how it should turn out. The outdoor shoot was also quite as intended. So is the letter-writing scene.

Make-up was also a challenge. I need the look that make Zoe look sickly yet not ugly. I had a hard time convincing her to uglify herself especially in the final few scenes. The “wet” scenes weren’t captured as intended partly because I was concerned about her getting totally wet. Plus, the bathroom wasn’t in a good lighting and size to get it done.

Being the first time doing a ficticious photo story, the process was more challenging than I thought. For instance, I need Zoe to get into character, very much like doing drama. Thinking back, I probably should shown her the concept or script and walkthrough the expected expressions for each scene. Without that process, we ended up having little giggles and losing the mood.

But still, Zoe did a stellar job in portraying that elegiac feel. If she lacked the spectrum of expressions, blame it on the photostory director, me. It really wasn’t easy juggling as the director, photographer, props and lighting designer, and what-not. It was a good try, and there is always room for improvement in my next project.

Click the image below to view the photostory.

Before I sign-off, here’s how the photo I imitated turned out:


  1. I think this is a photostory which really tells a story. It just got my attention the first time I saw it. A very interesting theme which the girl have portray out well. Really love it!! “)

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