Posted on February 7, 2011



Jakarta (Indonesia) based fashion photographer and founder of fashion website “shutterflicker”, Grace Gunawan started out her professional career as editor of Indonesian Tatler. She has a quirky sense of style combined with a dark sense of humour; coming through in her work to give a unique take on fashion photography.

Born in Bandung, Indonesia, she attended high-school there and went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Seattle University, USA. After working for a couple of years as an editor and freelance writer, Grace decided to study photography in TAFE Sydney, Australia and has been shooting professionally since 2009.

The inspiration behind her creative flare comes from various elements, ranging from certain colour schemes, nature and open landscapes, to the works of iconic photographers such as Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin; and even the stylists that have inspired her such as Grace Coddington or even those that she has collaborated with; Aldi Indrajaya.


Grace’s work has been published in Indonesia Tatler, Elle Indonesia, Living etc. Indonesia, Marie Claire Indonesia, dewmagazine.com, Ben Trovato, & See7mag.com; with some fascinating shoots.


Q.  What inspired you to become a photographer?
A.  While I was working as an editor for a local publication, I was constantly producing and supervising photo-shoots. The process really intrigued and appealed to me. There I was, having to assemble an article of 1000 words, whilst a single good photograph could tell the story in an instant. On top of that, I felt that society would much more readily look at a photograph rather than read a body of text to obtain their information; so I decided to become a photographer. I wanted that constant impact (in a good way).

Q.  Can you explain your career path to where you are today?
A.  After quitting my day job back in 2007, I took several photography courses and started to shoot everything from bands and concerts to individual portraits. After doing that for a while I decided to specialize in fashion photography, learning as I went along. I met a lot of amazing people in the local fashion industry who helped me train my eyes and taste for the photograph. My very first published work was for Indonesia Tatler, back in March 2009, and we continue to have a good working relationship. In 2010, I started getting work from Elle Indonesia, doing portraits and advertisements. I also have a few shots published in Marie Claire Indonesia, Living etc., dewmagazine.com, bentrovato.com, and see7mag.comI hope I can get more editorial work this year- since getting published is always a positive step for my work- and also continue to progress in my photography.

Q.  What inspires your work?
A.  It differs from project to project. Sometimes I am inspired by colours, sometimes a certain emotion that I need to express, sometimes it is the landscape, or architecture, or even another person’s work. It really depends on the mood that I’m in at that time, or what dream I had the night before…

Q.  ‘Cute and cuddly’ , ‘live in my dreams’ and ‘hopeless romantic’ are all mentioned on your shutterflicker website; do you draw inspiration from these concepts?
A.  Well, I love cute things like plush toys and bunnies. And I think I am quite a dreamer. I do tend to be inspired by all those things, especially the dreams, but more often than not the client doesn’t entirely agree or want to run with, the concepts of the photographer. I do believe that elements of what I find inspirational tend to present themselves in my work, even if not intended at the outset of the shoot; since they are the foundations of what I do and seemingly subconscious actions can be realized when I look back at them.

Q.  Why the name shutterflicker?
A.  I needed a nick name for a website, and the name shutterflicker was easy because my job consists of flicking the shutter of the camera all the time.

Q.  Do you have a favourite modern designer?
A.  I am currently in love with Celine, Chloe, Prada and Miumiu. But I also love Helmut Lang and Dries Van Noten. Also check out Oscar Lawalata, and Dion Lee. They’re amazing!

Q.  Which designers inspire you and why?
A.  I tend to be drawn to quirkiness, so I really like Prada’s S/S 2011 collection. It’s fun. I think that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously all the time. Although I do really love Celine and Chloe because of their minimalism, nude colours; it’s simplicity with a surprise in it.

Q.  What kind of challenges did you face in getting where you are today?
A.  People wanting free shoots all the time *laugh out loud*… no one wants to talk about it openly, but yes, I shall say it: It is really hard to get paid work today, especially when there are 5000 other photographers in the same city who are willing to give free shoots. But I think it starts to get better once you differentiate yourself from them. And I guess that’s where the real challenge is: making your product stand out from the rest, especially when you’re just starting out. Getting recognition and getting published are also challenges I have had to encounter. You are often compelled to take work on that is definitely not to your own personal taste or style, but you do it anyway just to establish your foot in the door.

Q.  What do photography and fashion mean to you?
A.  It’s not just about the clothes. Sometimes you have to make average looking clothes look a million times better. In fact, that’s your main job as a fashion photographer. But it’s also about how everything is put together to deliver the message that you or your client wants. It’s about the ambiance, location, the sun, the weather, the people that work with you, the models, make-up; everything has to come together in order to create a ‘fashion photograph’ that not only will sell the clothes, but also appeal to the people who see it, make them talk about it.

Q.  What has been your most exciting project to create?
A.  I think it’s the ‘Baby, let me love you’ because it’s just fun to do, and Juliett and Tatiyana (the models) really made it come alive.

Q.  You have several stunning photo-shoot features in Tatler Indonesia, can you describe the experience?
A.  Oh thanks! The very last shoot was a simple accessories shoot. Well it’s not that simple, but since we wanted to go crazy with the accessories, everything else was left simple. I also personally wanted it to be a bit colourful since it’s for the January edition. There were only four of us in the studio: me, the stylist, the make-up artist and the model. It was quite intimate and relaxing. I like small teams. Too many people in a studio makes me go crazy.Another shoot for Tatler that I love was the July 2010 issue, the one with a lot of flowers in it. I had a slightly larger team then, but still no more than 7 people altogether. We shot in the middle of the day, there was no air-con in the house where we staged the shoot, plus it was humid and we were all sweating like crazy; just a typical day in the ‘glamorous’ life of those in the fashion industry. Chloe (the model) was only 15 at the time but she was absolutely stunning and professional, although we made her wear all these clothes made of wool and a wig too. But she looked stunning. I also fell in love with the house because it was really cute; there was something very peaceful about it. The owner had lived there for more than 30 years, and had maintained it themselves throughout. It was the small details to be found that made the house very personal and intimate. Sometimes when we shoot in a house, the owners tend to ‘decorate’ it and clean it up from personal items, but this time the owner couldn’t be bothered. It combined a mixture of Chinese and Javanese style… all very alluring.

Q.  Could you explain the process of your work? Do the materials, the concepts or the models play a role in the final pieces?
A.  For personal work, I usually talk with the stylist as to what concept will be. Usually we brainstorm together. If it’s for editorial work, the fashion editor will come into play. There usually is a story/message that we want to express. I tend to be very careful in choosing models since they’re the ones who actually make the concepts come to life. If the models are wrong, the concept usually goes out the window.

Q.  What is your greatest achievement to date?
A.  Getting published

Q. How do you go about the photo shoots? Do you have total control with casting and directing the models, and their makeup, or do you watch your pieces come to life in the hands of someone else?
A.  For personal work, absolutely. For more commercial work, I am (most of the time) required to just follow the brief. The clients are in total control, although I can suggest a few things to improve the final pieces.

Q.  Do you have a favorite Project among your works? Can you explain why?
A.  Every single shoot has been a favorite because we worked really hard at each one. It&#8217
;s like choosing your babies, I simple can’t do it.

Q.  Do you have any interests that inspire you in other aspects of life?
A.  I love traveling. Seeing new places, making new friends; hearing stories from other people really inspires me. I also love meeting new designers; their perspective can be very refreshing. I have come to realize that nature too deeply inspires me. 

Q.  Are you working on any new projects currently?
A.  Well I have just returned from a shoot in Sydney, Australia, and am in the process of editing the pictures that I took there.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  I hope to get more work, especially editorials. And perhaps get myself ready to do an exhibition.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Well this interview has really helped already. It helps to get my work out there. Thank you!



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