Exclusive Interview with Rising Fashion Photographer Darren Gabriel Leow

BIO HAZARD BY DARREN GABRIEL L.

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It’s true when they say that Singapore has got talents, because rising homegrown fashion photographer Darren Gabriel Leow has got loads of it.

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Armoured with a flair for concocting stunning fashion spreads, Darren has a penchant for innovative fashion directions and diverse influences, all set to break boundaries in his photography. 

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The Temasek Design School Graduate is one who really pushes the limits, holding a stellar record of having his works featured in modeling agency, Upfront model’s limited edition calendar for four consecutive years, from 2009 to present. (see below)

STILL WATERS BY DARREN GABRIEL L. FOR UPFRONT MODELS CALENDAR 2012

Some of his greatest works include his shot for local label Fru Fru & Tigerlily’s and haute couturier Vaughn Tan’s advertising campaign as well as fashion spreads in magazines from ELLE to Style Weddings to Appetite to Solitaire, and even Urban (The Straits Times)

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Today, we have the chance to speak to the man himself in an exclusive interview!

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{J}:   Darren, what sparked your interest in fashion photography in the first place?

{D}: It all started back when I was in design school. At the time a good friend was working for an established fashion magazine and would always share the fashion spreads inside with me – mostly shot by local photographers. I was so taken by how polished and conceptual all the images were and the fact that it was all done here blew my mind.

It wasn’t until I took my first fashion photography module in school that I realized how much I loved this genre of photography. I really enjoyed the conceptual ideation, the production, the actual shoot itself and then of course the post production - I knew then that I had to pursue this.
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GARDEN OF EXOTIC DELIGHTS BY DARREN GABRIEL L.

{J}:   Who inspires you? And what is fashion photography to you?

{D}: It’s a mix up of Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Steven Klein and Camilla Akrans. I love how they all have their own very distinct styles and are always fresh with ideas.

Fashion photography to me is about freedom of expression. It is relatively open and never restrictive – an outlet for self expression. It also often reflects the period in which the world is at at present in terms of politics, trends and economics transcending the clothes. I see it as capturing a little piece of history, almost like my very own journal entries. When I look at my past works they always remind me of where my head was at at the time.

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RED LETTER DAY BY DARREN GABRIEL L.

{J}:   Your latest spread, ‘Red Letter Day’ (above) is an effortless, sleek spread with bold hues of reds, tell us what’s the story behind it.

{D}: Thanks! I have been wanting to shoot Si Ying the main girl in the spread for a while but didn’t have the time so when I finally did I wanted to show her beautiful Asian looks.

 The concept is what it is, it’s an important day in the calendar and that in this case being the empowerment of women. A little blurp as it were of my take of the modern asian woman.
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FACTORY GIRLS BY DARREN GABRIEL L.

{J}:   You have incorporated a diverse range of styles and influences in all your works, where do you get your inspirations from?

{D}: All over the place! I am a very visual person and I try not to limit myself to a certain thing because that would be so restrictive and boring.

My inspirations tend to come from everyday things like the weather, locations, childhood fantasies and even people. I would say I’m like a sponge, I take things I like from inspiring fashion references, certain looks of the season and concepts I would like to reinterpret from my own perspective and try to put out visually stimulating imagery.

My best friend Adriel who art directs and styles most of my shoots plays a very large role as well. He’s heavily tuned in to the higher fashion frequencies that be and always brings his own take to my shoots – often ending up with something way better.

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{J}:   What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

{D}: Well at present it must be the time when I first started out in the business, fresh out of school – freelancing. I had to pump a substantial amount into getting photographic equipment; camera, lights and etc from my already dismal student bank account which was by no means an easy decision.

I come from an average middle income family hence the slight resistance from my parents – although they have always encouraged me to pursue whatever makes me the happiest.

I did it and have since earned back everything I had put out – much to the relief of my family.

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FANTASY ISLAND BY DARREN GABRIEL L.

{J}:   What do you think is the most important thing for a photographer to capture when doing a photo shoot?

{D}: The most important thing? Every shoot is different and would require different things from a photographer. But if you must ask I would say that a photographer should always stay true to himself/herself, capture the moments that resonate with you and the ideas you want to show your audience. It is very easy to just shoot whatever a client or an art director wants you to shoot. But at the end of the day they hired you for your opinion and if you just let your right to an opinion slide, you become a tool.

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{J}:   Do you have anyone in particular whom you would like to work with?

{D}: I would absolutely love to work with super model Milla Jovovich, they don’t make models like her anymore. She has the sickest chiseled bone structure, that stunning face and most importantly she has personality. To me she represents everything I look for in a model when I do my castings.

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GARDEN PARTY BY DARREN GABRIEL L. FOR APPETITE MAGAZINE

{J}:   What are you working on at the moment? And what can we see more from you?

{D}: At the moment I’m putting together another test for my portfolio and at the same time working on recently shot images for a major mall here in Singapore.
Expect more fashion spreads and commercial stuff coming right up!

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Special thanks to Darren for this exclusive interview, and for sharing his works with us!
All images in this article belongs to Darren Gabriel Leow.
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