“Fashion is made up of two things: continuity and the opposite. That’s why you have to keep moving.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Chris Ross Leong Photography embodies and envisions the creative artistry of each of its subjects and its own. During our latest photo shoot, The Fashion Hub collaborated with Chris Ross Leong Photography to produce a fabulous weekend of fashion and beauty with local gems and talents: Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist Amanda Robbins and Models Christina Wen and Pernille Søe. Together, we brought the strengths and skills on set to breathe life into the styles and designs by Expression by Jennifer Chen and T*Racy. It was a stellar weekend, and one that inspired our upcoming series of feature editorials on the team behind these rockstar looks!
This week’s feature editorial is focused on Chris Ross Leong Photography, and the power duo behind it all! Let’s see what Producer Shelley Lawrence (SL) and Photographer Chris Ross Leong (CRL) had to share with us!
TFH: Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us! For those unfamiliar with Chris Ross Leong Photography, can you tell us more about your background, inspiration and your brand?
CRL: Trained in London and Hong Kong, my mentors included some great photographers, designers and stylists of the 70s, but mainly under the great Kiki Fleming and Dinshaw Balsara, for whom I apprenticed, assisted and later married. Expanding my expertise in photography, I decided to move into feature films and television. Together, with my producer Shelley Lawrence and associate Razi at Photoflash, we have created a dynamic team at Chris Ross Leong Photography.
SL: Chris Ross Leong and I share a love of photography that goes far beyond the business of taking pictures for a living. While Chris was trained at a ridiculously early age, I came to photography as an enthusiast who was a career writer-producer in television. Many of those years were spent in shooting documentaries where the image arguably leads the written word in importance – at least for me. We partnered in Chris Ross Leong Photography because we saw a return to high fashion and wanted to be part of that resurgence.
My role in our business is to produce the shoots. That translates to getting the right location, models, stylists and designer on board. Also, I photograph everything that goes on behind-the-scenes.
TFH: That sounds amazing, and it is certainly my first experience working with a team like yours – especially out in Los Angeles! Moving onto the next question… In a highly competitive market such as fashion, how does Chris Ross Leong Photography distinguish itself?
CRL: Good question and hard to give a straightforward answer to. I’d love to say it was all easy and talent, smoke and mirrors, but really it’s the answer most people don’t want to hear – it’s very hard work, and there’s a lot of it because it’s a process, not a result. Not too glam sounding, but I think it’s true. The second one feels like one has attained perfection is the same second one starts to repeat one’s self. And thereby end any further creative progress. Great for printing money, terrible for living a creative life.
SL: Chris Ross Leong is the key that unlocks and distinguishes our brand. As a photographer, he is a life-long scholar of the works of Avedon and Newton – to name two of his favorites. He is steeped in the roots of fashion photography, which gives him the foundation to experiment in original and exciting ways.
TFH: Beautifully said. I second Chris’ words of wisdom, “…it’s very hard work, there’s a lot of it because its process, not a result.” This industry is continuous and ever-changing – to grow, to excel is to innovate and embrace change as a constant.
So why Los Angeles? And what are your insights into the fashion market here compared to other markets? Has it evolved and changed in the time you have been here? If so, how?
CRL: Lifestyle with prêt-a-porter is going great guns here: casual attire, sports and swimwear. It’s slowly been getting more sophisticated in the time I’ve been here, and I’m seeing better construction, better profiles – overall just cleaner and simpler lines.
SL: It’s hard to compare Los Angeles fashion to that of NYC because fashion is seasonal and I’d find myself hard pressed to lock LA into spring/summer/fall/winter. We’re a lifestyle market. For garments designed for the sun and the sea, there’s no better fashion scene. There are lots of young, talented, driven designers in LA. Case in point: our own Jennifer Chen.
TFH: Very true, it certainly is not comparable. Each market is unique with its own flair. And, thank you, Shelley! I still have lots to learn in design! It was an honor to feature a few of my designs though!
As seasoned fashion professionals in this industry, what advice do you have for emerging photographers/videographers – as well as models, designers, stylists, and hair and make up artists?
CRL: There are tens of thousands of those appearing all around us, every day, so we get inured to it all, blasé about it all. So the feeling goes, and the emotion goes, and we get left with the blank superficiality that is, to my mind, the antithesis of fashion, which should be about dreams, about passion.
So we all have to concentrate really hard to maintain our curiosity, our innocence in not bearing the “been there, done that” mentality. Regardless of what profession you hold in the industry, ask yourselves, “What is so special about this next outfit? This next T shirt? This next bikini and sunglasses look?” It’s our job to find that special something and bring it in a fresh way to the beholder so they get a twinkle in their eye from looking at it. So our eyes had better be twinkling too!
SL: My advice is to learn your craft well and keep honing it because every day, if you’re paying close attention, you’ll encounter something new you might want to add to your repertoire. Be bold, but not at the expense of good taste. There’s a reason why icons like Chanel endure. Be professional. Be accountable.
TFH: Those are all great tips, and definitely points worth taking away. Each season, we see recycled trends from a different decade or era but as with globalization and social changes, those trends are re-innovated through new perspectives and interpretation And, each person discovers and masters their craft through continuously evolving with change, character and curiosity.
To wrap it up, what projects are you both currently working on?
CRL: Well I’m just starting a personal photo book project called “LBD/CRL”, or “Little Black Dress” by CRL, which is a whimsical exploration about a girl’s search for her perfect LBD and what that journey means to her. It’s fun and irreverent, and goes from rags to riches and beyond.
SL: Adding onto Chris’ note, we are also diving into a wardrobe collection of original garments from the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s. We’re looking for models willing to TFP. This vintage wardrobe is museum worthy and I believe this will be one of our most exciting sessions yet.
If you know of or are interested as a model, inquire for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TFH: Thank you so much for your time, and it was a pleasure working with both of you! We’ll have to setup something soon, and best wishes on the new endeavors and projects!
To view and learn more about Chris Ross Leong Photography, see below:
Sherman Oaks & Valley Village, California