Based in Taiwan, Tseng Yen Lan has been documenting girls around her since the start of her career at 19. She is fascinated by the many aspects of the female body, such as postures, colors, smells, as well as abstract atmospheres, and the emotions it brings. Her film photographs usually revolve around females and the aesthetics of young women.
Do you prefer shooting yourself or people you know or strangers?
I’m not a fan of taking photos of professional models. So, most of the models you see in my works are my friends or people I found on the Internet. All the photos you see on my website and Instagram have no me in them.
Saying that, I take selfies a lot, I have a private account that has tons of my selfies lol.
How did you begin photographing?
When I was 16, my mother gave me a small digital camera for my 16th birthday, and I fell in love with photography ever since.
Where do you get inspiration from? What are some themes that interest you?
My inspiration is more intuitive. A lot of the time I get inspiration while I’m shooting and it’s also related to how I connect and interact with the model. The feeling of the moment is what I care about the most. Before the shooting, I spend at least 1 to 2 hours chatting with the models, letting them talk about themselves. It allows me to understand and be more honest with each other when shooting.
I’ve always been shooting women and nudes for many years. As a woman myself, I want to delve into women’s traits more. As I said, most of the models were found on the Internet, I enjoy discovering their characteristics while shooting. But since many of them are not professional models, it takes patience to build their confidence to be shot in front of the camera. I also want to know why they want to be my model and what makes them have the courage to get out of the box and be willing to try.
And I have recently become very interested in styling, so I started to do styling for my own shootings.
Do your surroundings influence your work?
As an Asian woman, sometimes yes. Because Asian women are usually very resistant to showing themselves, and most Asians are deeply influenced by stereotypes, women here could be very easily criticized by society. “Showing yourself” is something that would make some women here feel quite unsettled.
Lately, you have been shooting a lot of polaroids. How did it come about?
I have been using Polaroids to shoot for a long time. I have liked Polaroids since I was in high school, and I often would bring them to school to take photos of my friends. Now I’m actually in LOVE with Polaroids because it is very intuitive and you can also see the result immediately. It directly touches the mood of shooting for the moment.
Is there a project you would love to work on next? What should we expect to see from you?
My first photo book will be published around the end of the year! I will announce the publication news on my Instagram @tsengyenlan. So be sure to stay tuned!