Gabe Chen Ambivalence 1 Fussy Curator #fussysg


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Amongst the highly populated works, another work that stood out to us at DECK was one visual that was framed up. It was by Gabe Chen, a fashion photographer who presented Ambivalence. It is based on the Renaissance era, a period that we were also inspired by. Having had worked for a Publishing house ourselves, with photo shoots involved, we understood what went on behind the scenes. The casting of the model, picking the right hair and makeup artist, sourcing of apparels, lighting, venue, and even before then the conceptualization, it all had to be tied in together. It’s not all glamour, though it very much seems that way. Having seen this level of fashion photography on par to industry standards doesn’t happen very often. Thus we caught up with Gabe to find out more about his journey and Ambivalence.

  • Tell us a bit about your journey thus far?
  • Gabe (G): I started off as a visual communications photography major at Temasek Polytechnic Design School and interned at Milk Photographie for 5 months before moving on to be a photographer’s assistant, and an apprentice for many other photographers for 5 years, of which 2 are under Stills Network.

  • Why Photography and not other creative forms?
  • G: I started off as an illustrator interested in concept art and character design for video games but got hooked on photography the moment photography modules started whilst I was schooling. I have never looked back ever since.

  • What’s Ambivalence about?
  • G: It started with the idea of studying still life paintings of renaissance era Dutch painters and the peculiar semiotic resource each painting harboured. Besides that, I studied renowned contemporary photographers and drew similarities of posing, lighting and compositional styles of the great renaissance artists that specialized in portraiture. Renaissance, by and large, is still being studied, copied and referenced until today. By joining my two areas of research, I decided to execute an editorial series out of the research of the renaissance era paintings.

  • Photography of this level requires a lot of planning with apparels, makeup, hair, model casting etc. Tell us more about the process for Ambivalence?
  • G: It starts off with concept planning with my work partner Jackie as well as an incredible amount of input from my then lecturer Paul Hume, from the Glasgow School of Art for a month before the actual execution. Sure, rounding up such a massive amount of props and crew takes time and effort, but pales in comparison to the amount of pre-production research and planning prior to the shoot.

  • What do you think Singapore’s creative scene needs to improve on?
  • G: It needs its own culture before embarking on the idea of improving the creative scene.

  • Takeaway message?
  • G: Stay hungry. Keep seeing. Keep observing. Keep learning. Keep seeking and acquiring knowledge and skills. Photography like any other profession is a craft not a talent.
Read on for more about Gabe!

Gabe Chen

25 // Taurus

Ideal Career // A travelling photographer.

Creative Approach // Never settle. If an idea can be pushed further by all means do it.

Fact // That I’m stepping out from being a long time photographer’s apprentice to being a full-fledged photographer.

Message // Never chase grades, peer fulfillments or public acceptance, always chase for creating amazing content.

FUSSY // I’m fussy about concepts and ideas.



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