Issue 23
Yu Tsai
Self-described story gatherer, Yu Tsai is an
American photographer who has worked with the most established names in fashion and global brands.
Once a member of the Future Farmers of Americain high school, Yu Tsai never thought of photography as a field where he would build his name for himself ever. A science major in college, he went on a serendipitous trip to Africa as a part of national-wildlife conservation research with the National Geographic Research group. Like many photographers before him, Africa was an eye-opening experience for Tsai. It was during this period when he was tracking and sketching elephants and giraffes that he discovered his interest in arts.

Soon enough, he found himself at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena as a Fine-Art Illustration major. With guidance from professors, Tsai became immersed with art direction and honed his skills and techniques that would allow him to materialize his compelling visual imaginations. While at school, he participated in many visual development projects including “the Cell”, “Minority Report” and visual billboards.

Upon graduation, Microsoft gave him a love call as a visual consultant and it did not take a long time for Tsai to take over the creative world. Soon, Tsai was the creative director and shooter for Guess, where he was jetsetting to Italy, Dubai and China. Since then, his client list reads like a guest list to a very exclusive red carpet event: Alicia Keys, Lindsay Lohan, Sienna Miller, Ryan Gosling, Anne Hathaway, P. Diddy, Leona Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Rihanna, Kate Upton, Alessandra Ambrosio, etc. Also as a brand strategist, Tsai has also created top imageries for international brands such as Emporio Armani, Guess, Clairol, Neiman Marcus, Bebe, BCBG and Apple while shooting with Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Muse and Interview.

Here, Playing Fashion asks the photographer about his memorable experience and source of inspiration.
I NEVER DREAMT OF BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER.
Photography was just another means of story telling. I was a commercial director and writer first.
FASHION IS IN CONSTANT EVOLUTION.
Every season changes by influences around the world. Fashion is exciting.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN?
I haven’t yet worked with the most beautiful women in the world, have I? However, Kate Upton is my muse.
THE COOL PLACES I HAVE BEEN TO
for work stretches from Belize to Brazil; Switzerland to Bora Boral; Turkey to China. Where does it stop?
I WILL NEVER FORGET
how incredible it was to work with an icon like Janet Jackson. It was dear to me.
ALTHOUGH SOME CELEBRITIES MIGHT HAVE PRIMA DONNA ATTITUDE,
all my clients are very punctual. I surround myself with very professional people.
MY HEROES:
Helmet Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn. These are the pinnacles of fashion photography for me.
I WILL BE TAKING PICTURES,
as long as I am getting paid and the subject is interesting.

Photography by Yu Tsai.
Words by Sunny Park
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