+November 17, 2020
Future is one of the first words that should be used to describe Victoria Lingâs (@victoria_ling) work - especially that of her recent commission for FutureLab, in which she combined a futuristic fusion of set design and light to create a playful, intriguing and avant-garde commercial series. Visually appearing as a combination of photo and digital creativity, Lingâs series is in fact, all photographically based - with an intense focus on creative and intrepid lighting choices.
Designed to reflect the various areas of the trend/ colour prediction agency FutureLab, each image corresponds to a theme within Future of Youth: Health and Wellness, Fashion, Travel, Luxury, Beauty, Retail or Food. Ling describes the brief as âwonderfully broad,â allowing her full creativity to shine through the lighting design and final imagery. An open and creative aesthetic runs throughout each image, which feature ethereally floating packages, carefully designed abstract objects and dainty yet purposeful placement of liquid droplets.
Itâs a challenge to create work that looks so futuristic and digital in camera and on set, but Ling harnesses and manipulates light like a sorcerer to form mythical and otherworldly photographs that each have a different hue, reflection or colour wherever the eye travels. Through the youthful yet striking colouring of the photographs, the series becomes united in itâs futuristic feel and aesthetic. The colours combine to create something out of this world and beyond the realm of just beauty or travel - each topic is catapulted into a larger than life future. Lingâs lighting is far beyond the ordinary - multiple light sources combine to create alluring gradients, arresting combinations of shades and rich colours which recall bright De Stijl artworks.
Using perspex, a surface which Ling describes as âa great surface which is so smooth and âtakesâ the light really well, spreading it along itâs surface softly.â The generic shapes and objects used in the imagery are brought to life by the lighting, which is no easy task when working with plain block objects, packages, or scientific test tubes as Ling was. Although the FutureLab project was different to her normal style, Ling enjoyed a challenge and sought to bring the simple sets not just to life, but into the future.
A big reason as to why this series is so visually successful is that the foundation of it was simple - the lighting and bold colours were the focus of the campaign, which allowed a strong and unifying aesthetic to be developed throughout the images. Using semi-transparent perspex in combination with projected light allows for brilliant reflections and objects to appear as if they are floating, emphasising the futuristic aesthetic. The use of perspex allows the multiple different coloured light sources to combine, spread and glow in sometimes unexpectedly effective ways to elevate the props and imagery.
Originally using metallic, glass, liquid or white props, Ling quickly discovered that they didnât absorb and take to light as affectively as expected. Instead, she ventured into experimenting with reflective props, which took to the multiple studio lights more effectively and allowed for a far more significant effect.
Ling reflects on the fact that the photographic industry is still not fully inclusive, recalling the way she often competes with other female photographers for commissions. There are far more male photographers out there who are not having to compete with deeply instilled stereotypes in the advertising industry - female photographers are often chosen for a certain style of commission, which is deeply rooted in an outdated perception of women, their stories and their careers.
I have had briefs in the past that just surprise me with the narrative that seems so out of step. Several years ago now I had an agency approach me with a project advertising tampons - the story was âyou can do anythingâ and had women dancing around handbags. I didnât outright state how crazy that was, and I should have, I just side stepped it. But now I feel I would say something and that would be okay. So things are changing but certainly we need to keep pushing.