Photography / Fashion

The fashion photographer creating desaturated dreams

Nhu Xuan Hua is a photographer based between London, Paris and Milan. Her elegant images blend high fashion with art - and a handcrafted approach.

In one moment dreamy and inviting, and in another entirely detached – there is a undeniable feeling of longing that resonates from her work. We talked to her about the endless search for inspiration. Follow Nhu Xuan Hua on Instagram here.

How did you get started in photography?

Photography came to me naturally, maybe because I received an education where you are taught that choices are important and you need to choose your path very quickly. Although I love photography, I’ve always been really into anything which was handcrafted. Photography is my main tool but I also feel the need to explore other mediums to fulfil my search in art. It’s a process that is constantly evolving.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I always feel like the subject that I’m questioning through the process of shooting and will never find a final answer. I guess this is why I produce very long stories The search is endless. Through the last 3 years I’ve explored different ways to describes my emotions or feelings through young women mostly (I guess I found some parts of myself in those young women ). Everything in my life has always needed to be straight and clean . It’s the way i’ve been raised. I was chasing perfection, but the more I’m growing up and the more I’m getting experience from life, the more I feel like life is not only one way. I photograph bodies most of the time but I like to see something abstract or organic in something which is shaped and somehow unmodifiable by nature. The body which doesn’t looks like a body is what attracts me the most. Artists like Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Bacon, Giacommeti are really inspiring for me. Their work is the depiction of their beautiful madness, their questions about human condition, but I thing it’s most of all a physical catharsis thrown on the paper.

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week?

My grandmother.

Can fashion photography be considered art?

If everything is creation, everything is art. The limits of what is art are probably as real as borders that humans have drawn to say “ this is my country”. This is where the limits start and end . Borders. But it’s all fiction . It’s all political . you can’t contain and restrained people as much as you can’t restrain art to spread like wild fire. An idea is an abstraction and it’s infinite.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

I try to be aware to things that I’m surrounded by. I love isolation and loneliness. I need it to be able to put my ideas in order . I have a very selective memory and I have tones of papers/notes with words/sentences/memories written down or snapshot or screenshot of everything . I get easily very anxious about time passing. I always wish I could do more because I feel like a sponge absorbing images or stories about people all the time but I have no time to squeeze it to let the water go somewhere. I love listening to people’s stories. I’ve often felt really restrained when I was younger . I wasn’t allowed to do much because I was a girl, which was really irritating and frustrating for me at that time . So I love listening to other people stories so I can kind of transfer myself in their own memories. It happens sometimes that I’m reproducing details of stories that I’ve heard or dream that I’ve had.

Any advice for aspiring photographers?

I think that inspiration comes from everywhere and you need to be open and curious about everything. I never buy fashion magazines for example. I watch movies and documentaries. I look at people in the streets . I’m a good observer. I think the best fashion stories are the ones inspired by everything but fashion itself. You need to feed yourself by looking around, reading and also touching things. You need to feel with your eyes. You need to photograph first and foremost for yourself. To know yourself and understand yourself, it takes a lifetime. You must constantly question yourself and critique your own work . You will always be the best judge because what you produce is the reflection of what defines you.

Your dream collaboration?

Anyone who could make me shoot a sandstorm, real or fake. I’ve been looking at images of sandstorms that happened in China and it was fascinating.

22 April 2019