Singaporean fashion photographer, Aetll's works are a demure balance between the soft haziness of a dreamlike world and the
punkness of a fearless persona.
"I think I have an ever-evolving style; from softer, dreamlike aesthetics to a more contemporary look, constantly drawing inspiration from 90s and early 2000s pop culture. Through my photography, I always aim to elicit an emotional response from the viewer."
How did you get started in photography?
I majored in photography during my diploma 4 years ago, and now I’m honing my skills in fashion editorial and conceptual photography.
Your photography is a blend between fashion, portraitures with hinted elements of surrealism and goth. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Movies! I love referencing movies that have left an impact on me. I also draw a lot of references from my dreams because I always have very distinctive and vivid dreams/nightmares and I would always note them down the moment I wake up – the series ‘Phantasm’ that I shot for Leica is one of such bodies of work that was a recreation and reinterpretation of a series of nightmares that I had.
I notice that you also model. As someone who spends time in front and behind the lens, what takeaways do you get from it that has helped you in working with other models when you are the one photographing?
I have realised that it helps when I want to make my models feel more comfortable and at ease in front of the camera. I know how sometimes it can be a little awkward to tell the photographer that you don’t want to be captured from a certain angle because you prefer the other angle…So I always remember to ask my models what their preferred angles are, or if they have any requests I'd be glad to help however I can to make them feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
I usually do up a moodboard after I decide on an idea. It may go through several iterations because I always have bursts of new inspiration or there are things that go wrong and I find new ways to work around the problems.
How do you conceptualise your shoots?
BREATHE is celebration of love and acceptance. I published this series in conjunction with Pink Dot 2018 - Many of my closest friends are from the LGBTQIA+ community, and BREATHE serves as a ‘thank you’ note to them, and a declaration of my allyship to the community.
I worked very closely with Mazri Ismail, a fashion designer from the LGBTQIA+ community to create BREATHE. We were inspired by Troye Sivan’s music video, Bloom.
How did the project came to be?
(left to right): Rifqi Abdat, Anneliese, Tan Ya, Joel Kiam
I met Rifqi and Anneliese through my collaborator, Mazri. Tan Ya is an artist that I have looked up to for a long time and I met Joel on Instagram. These individuals were casted for this project because of how they embody the spirit of BREATHE. They are all unapologetically themselves and stand up for their right to be seen as who they truly are. They love love and will always make you feel like you belong.
BREATHE was extremely important to me and everyone who was a part of it. I wanted BREATHE to show that love is love, and it does not take away from someone as a human being to love who they love. Mazri and I had a very strong and clear vision in our minds for this project – we wanted all the models to be given the same makeup, similar hairstyles and wardrobe.
For each model, I asked them to give me a pose where they felt the most themselves or the most confident in. It meant so much to me that they trusted me to capture their beauty and the absolute rawness that they were allowing me to see.
Mazri and I were planning for this project for months, so when we finally saw the finished product and how well received the message was, it was an amazing moment for us. The sheer appreciation, gratitude and admiration I have for my team and everyone who contributed to the project in one way or another is overflowing.
What does this project means to you as both an individual and a photographer?
These images below are actually from my Final Year Project when I was doing my diploma. To date, it is still one of my favourite projects I’ve shot. The project was about exploring the integration of Asian culture into modern fashion and how it’s transformed or impacted fashion today.
meaning present, current, modern.
exploring the integration of chinese
culture into modern fashion.
"This photo is from a fashion editorial for Sukeban Magazine in 2019, titled “Partner In My Dream”. This was a collaborative project and done as a tribute to the late Anita Mui, the art director Low Rin’s favourite singer. This is also one of my favourite projects to date.
We booked a hotel room in
a super dingy area and shot
in it till sunset. It was a lot of fun and this shoot holds many
fond memories for me."
I’ve been watching a lot of movies and taking tons of notes on all the movies I watch. It’s sort of how I expand and push the walls of my imagination in hopes that I will get more interesting and detailed dreams or nightmares which I can in turn use as inspiration.
Right now I’m just waiting for school to start in September and just enjoying whatever time I have left till then.
What’s a day like for you?
Recently it’s been all the movies that I’ve watched, whether they're good or bad. I don’t just watch the movie for the sake of watching it. I always feel like it’s an easy way for me to observe the fashion in the movies, what year it came out and why it was relevant to the character building or how it contributes to the storytelling.
I’m also inspired by a lot of artists/creatives on Instagram. I feel like it’s the most convenient source of daily inspiration. Endless scrolling and endless new talented people to discover!
What inspires you?
What are you up to these days?
I’ve actually picked up a new hobby recently, which is beading. I’m learning to make my own accessories and I really enjoy it. I spend all my time beading and watching movies every single day. I can’t wait to get back to shooting though, I have missed it. There will always be more to come!
Check out @visualjargon here.