2021 Greatest Creators Cover Competition Winner

Every year, we ask the artists in our industry to send in their best pieces of original work for the chance to land on the cover of our Greatest Creators section. This year, our staff picked “Delta” by Alex Zhang, Art Director, Heartbeat. PM360 spoke with Zhang about his photo.

Alex Zhang, Art Director, Heartbeat

PM360: What was the inspiration behind this piece?

Alex Zhang: I love photography and have always wanted to travel to Iceland to photograph the beautiful landscapes. The ice caves were especially interesting because they are always changing and each visit to the same cave will yield different results. I took this photo in the ice caves of the Vatnajökull glacier.

What can you share about the process for taking the photo?

The ice cave was small and dark inside so taking pictures was challenging. In order to capture this shot, I framed the opening of the cave with the ice walls and used the naturally diffused light to light the scene.

What kind of camera did you use? Do you generally prefer digital or film?

This was shot on a Sony A7R IV with a 12-24mm lens. I generally prefer digital since a big part of photography is the post processing and it is much more forgiving to edit digitally than working with film.

What kind of editing do you do on the photos?

All of my images are always edited and post processed to my style. The camera never captures what the eye sees so I try to bring the final image closer to how it was when shot.

What do you enjoy most about photography?

It is a way to freeze those fleeting moments that are often missed. A photo is able to capture complex feelings, emotions, and stories—all in a single frame.

Have you still been able to take photos during lockdown and throughout the pandemic? If so, what can you share about them?

Currently, it is tough to travel so I have been shooting street photography in New York City. Unlike studio or landscapes where every image is tightly composed and shot with multiple exposures, street is more freestyle—just trying to capture life as it happens. People can see other examples of my work by following me on Instagram @az.visuals.

What pieces of artwork or other artists most interest you? Do you have any favorites?

There is always much to learn from famous photographers like Saul Leiter, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Fan Ho. But exploring other mediums is the best way to gain inspiration and expand creatively. So while I mostly create with digital design and photography, I find physical and experiential art to be highly inspirational and thought provoking.

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