Versed in portrait and fine art photography, Hailun Ma brings a youthful energy to the table. She has fresh ideas and an approach to photography that goes against trends. Here we take a look at some of her work as she talks us through her process and experiences as a budding photographer and artist.
Name: Hailun Ma
What is the earliest memory that stuck with you when you were a kid? What do you think you were doing back then?
There was a famous TV series called Art Attack, a show that teaches kids small art projects and simple drawing techniques. It was my favorite show to watch and I remember eagerly waiting in front of the TV with a pen and paper, trying to follow the instructions. I watched so many episodes that I had to get a small shelf to store all my “art pieces”. I would pretend that it was a showcase and put price tags on them when I tried to sell them to my relatives.
When and how did you get into photography? What made you fall in love with the medium?
My interests in photography started in high school. At first, it was a hobby of mine: I took pictures as a way to kill time. I started with taking selfies by putting the camera on top of a pile of books and set a timer. In my selfies, I would dress up in different outfits to look like different characters. From there, my dedication grew. I started asking my friends to model for me and be part of the “stories” I created. For me, photography is a powerful medium-- it is fast, convenient, and intuitive. It is the best way for me to illustrate my ideas, my vision, and to convey my stories.
Any early memory about film photography or film cameras back in the 90’s?
In my family, my mom is the photographer, she used to have a Konica point shoot camera, I remember so vividly, My mom used to take so many picture for me while I was growing up using that camera. I remember going to the store with my mom to buy films, and that was so fascinating for me. I still keep that camera and use it occasionally.
Many believe now that our generation’s real adult-age is when we hit mid-20’s. As a young photographer working as a professional, what were the struggles and challenges you encountered or are continuously encountering?
I think the most challenging thing for me, as a young photographer is to find my own style and keep perfecting it. Photography is a very competitive field. It is hard to stand out and let people remember your work. As the field itself keeps evolving, you really need to keep learning, perfecting your skills, and upgrading your vision. Photographers need the whole package, from producing the shoot to post-production, and other aspects outside the shoot. It may be stressful, but for me, it is all fun and good learning experience.
There’s always a pro and con. What are the advantages of being young in the photography field that you’ve experienced so far?
As a young photographer, I am not afraid of making mistakes. Therefore, I think it makes me more courageous in terms of thinking out of the box in the process of making images. And since I am just getting into this business, I have nothing to lose. I say yes to every opportunity and job offer. I am never scared or worried because I look at every opportunity as a gift.
I feel people in this field love to discover and help emerging young photographers.
Do you have any photography master or artist who you look up to? Who is it?
I look at other photographer’s work a lot, but I have to say my all-time favorite would be Nobuyoshi Araki and Tim Walker.
How do you see future Hailun Ma in the next 10 years?
Still making work for sure. I’ll have my own team, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to work with all my favorite brands and magazines.
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