Asia’s next top model

I was in Cusco, Peru when received an email inviting me to fly in to Singapore to take part in Asia’s next top model cycle 3 episode 4 as photographer and guest judge. I was on a round-the-world trip that was luckily coming to an end. It took three flights from halfway around the globe, from Lima to Los Angeles, then Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Singapore.

We touched down into humid and rainy Singapore, jetlagged but excited. We scouted the location at Manhattan Bar and got to know the friendly production crew. It’s beautifully furnished, luxurious with a cool art deco vibe.

The theme of the photo shoot was ‘In the mood for love’, loosely based on 1920’s Shanghai glamour and involved a male model, which can sound exciting, but quite concerning for a photographer as the models connecting is crucial to making the shot work. Understandably, this was the challenge as posed by the producers of the show and the test to set the girls apart. We filmed over two days, one was the photoshoot and the other for elimination.

I was joined by guest judge fashion designer Peter Som who flew in from New York and Joey Mead King, model mentor, who has a successful modelling career. The photoshoot was a relay between shooting and being interviewed 11 times, while only allowing each girl a shooting time of 10 minutes to get the shot.


Here are my favourite photos from the day:




Judging day was difficult for me, I’m not fond criticising others. It’s hard with modelling, a game of luck that involves a combination of winning the genetic lottery, while being in the right place at the right time meeting the right people, then hard work and long hours to make it last, with the right confidence and attitude. You can try your hardest to be a better model, but in no way does that make you a more desirable one.

Thanks to the team at Asia’s next top model for inviting me! I had a great time in Singapore.


The episode airs in all asian countries on Star world asia channel, but we can watch the full episode in HD below ^_^

Asia’s next top model

Quotes to help along the way

Below are quotes taken from my personal journal that I have kept for the past few years. Quotes are picked up from conversations with friends, articles, internet, or passing thoughts.. As cliche as some people believe quotes to be, there is some comfort found in the mutual understanding between the writer and yourself. Hopefully they will help others along their journey.

“Don’t let fear take control of your actions

“I hope that this is all a big dream and that I will wake up being where I want to be

“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what is appears to be

“The shortest answer is doing”

“Do what you can, with what you have, where ever you are”

“Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness

“What we are is the result of our thoughts

“When you visualise, you materialise

“Your life will be how you create it

“It does not matter how long it takes, as long as you do not stop

“Being grateful is the pathway to happiness

“Don’t force things that don’t go your way, wait a while and it will come to you when it’s ready

“Seek criticism, not appraisal

“Do not let others overpower your judgement

“We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars

“People blame the world, people blame other people, actually, people tend to blame a lot of things. Perhaps it is more comforting to believe that the root of their problems lie based upon external factors. It’s too much to accept their own incapability.

“What you need to do is work even harder and create a greater impact with your statements. Concentrate all your energy into creating “the shot”, rather than let it all slip loose. Really, intensely, focus on creating beauty. It can be simple but full of impact. It might take ages, a long time, forever. It was never easy for anyone who has done it. You just have to get in there and do. Don’t be afraid, the only thing you should be afraid of is being unknown. Make your images LOUD.

Quotes to help along the way


vemödalen n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

.. But if we stopped photographing, our world would just be blank. Beauty will only be defined by what was defined in the past.


Visual literacy through fashion photography

Excerpt from Vogue Italia’s photo editor Alessia Glaviano

“An excellent fashion photograph does not simply show the clothes that are to be advertised though it; remember that, after a couple of months, the mere retail value of a product dies away but images “emancipate” and can go down in history forever precisely because of the social, psychological and cultural zeitgeist they depict. Because they go beyond what they advertise and portray – “voice” – a world, a dream, an era and a vision.

How to assess a photograph? There are both objective and subjective criteria. In assessing an individual photograph the subject, the composition, the light and the technique are important. Whereas when it comes to a photographic narrative, besides the above mentioned criteria, there needs to be no repetition, unless it is meaningful to the story; in addition, there needs to be narrative cohesion and the ability to tell a story.

It is transformation that makes a shot artistic, the variance between reality and the way it is portrayed: such variance is the added value and represents the photographer’s unique vision. A good photograph needs to have a soul, be open, not provide answers but rather trigger questions, it needs to intrigue, have several layers of meaning and not be dull, flat, banal or one-dimensional.

When “reading” an image, as well as when taking it, the cultural and visual baggage of both the viewer and the photographer plays a fundamental role because this is one of the elements that will, unconsciously, influence both the reviewer’s assessment of such image and the photographer’s approach to shooting it.

Being more familiar with the subject of a photograph doesn’t make everyone an expert arbiter or a good photographer just as it is true that not everyone who knows how to write (in the most literal interpretation of the term) can be called a writer. Being able to judge a photograph means to truly know the history of photography, have knowledge of the masters and have studied, and not one photographic genre only because, given the current fusion of the different genres, being competent in only one would be limiting and ultimately not enough.

Fashion photography is the most complex photographic genre, one in which being skilled photographers is not enough and, above all, it does not guarantee total control over the end result which depends on the model, the make-up and hair style, the set and the styling, all elements that a good fashion photographer needs to be able to guide or, at least, judge like a good film director.

Pay attention to any small detail appearing in your framing. Everything that is considered accidental in real life becomes intentional in a photograph.”

di Alessia Glaviano

Visual literacy through fashion photography