We chatted with the very talented Sheila Zhao, who took beautiful and haunting black and white pictures at last April's Vintage Carousel Fest. Here's her take on the festival, inspiration, and good things in life. See all of her works on the website sheila-zhao.com
When did you start taking pictures and why?
I began photographing full time in 2007. At the time, I just left a job working for an international PR agency and was exploring photography as an interim job. Now, seven years later, I’m still at it.
What brought you to Shanghai? Is it inspiring for your art?
I’ve been living in China since 2005, but began spending a lot of time in Shanghai since 2012 because, besides photography, I also help out with my family’s antique business, which is based here. In terms of living, I love being in Shanghai. The general change of environment is also a good creative change for me, as I get bored quite easily.
How would you describe your style?
It’s hard to say, as I have worked with different mediums and would like to continue exploring different photographic languages. The style of my current body of work, which I have been pursuing for the past three years, is very personal. It’s made primarily with black and white film and is heavily influenced by the post war Japanese school of photography.
If you could go back in time with your camera and take photos, which era would you choose?
I'm so cliche, but the 1920/ 30s Shanghai, for sure! In my mind, I have a very romanticized image of that period.
Which moment of the process of taking and developing photos do you prefer?
Everything but the dust removal of a scanned negative. It’s terribly tedious.
Do you like analogue better than digital photography? Why?
I have no preference – there’s advantage and disadvantage to both. For me, it’s more important why a photographer chooses to work with their chosen medium, and how that fits into the concept of that work which is more important.
What's your favourite thing in the world?
Long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners… just kidding! Currently, one of the things I love is a good single malt Islay whisky – the smokier the taste, the better.
And now about KTGA Carousel, what did inspire you the most from the event?
During the Carousel event, I really enjoyed everyone who contributed to creating the surreal, “fantasy” environment. Entering the venue was like entering into another time – that really takes a lot of work and dedication from everyone. I really enjoyed immersing myself into that temporary world and see how others responded to it as well.