What Makes a Timeless Photo? Photographer Baolong Song Shares His Creative Philosophy

How does Glimmer creator Baolong encapsulate and express timeless beauty through his photography?

What Makes a Timeless Photo? Photographer Baolong Song Shares His Creative Philosophy
Glimmer creator Baolong Song

Baolong Song says he’s not a professional photographer to “make noise” but to capture an image that stands the test of time. So, how does Glimmer creator Baolong, who has worked for fashion brands like Bless by Bless IIIB, Nataliya Nova, and Marie Galvin Fine Millinery, encapsulate and express timeless beauty through his photography? He shares his creative philosophy, most memorable projects, and must-know tips for brands and creators when preparing for a photoshoot.

What’s the first creative project you remember?

The first photographic project I undertook was the 2017 series “Art of Aging.” The project captured the genuine moments in which twelve individuals looked into a one-way mirror and reacted to the effects of aging on their faces using clay masking.

What is your personal photography style and how did you develop it?

Poise, sensuality, beauty, imagination, and the bare essence of a timeless moment, are all elements of photography that inspire me. My interest in photography began after receiving an undergraduate degree in Visual Media Arts. With an eye for directing and storytelling, I started shooting my fashion editorials, artist portraits, and personal projects.

How do you stand out from other photographers?

The camera doesn’t lie. Despite the number of diverse photographers out there who are making different and wonderful content, I believe in the power of capturing something that is beautiful because of its honest and truthful presence and existence. So, as a photographer, I am not here necessarily to make noise in what I do, but to conduct music, to create something that captures the beauty and stands the test of time.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

In Between Palms always has and continues to be a heart-opening and profound series. The project captures the genuine moments in which a hundred individuals rest their heads on and between their palms, reacting to the emotional and physical sensations that surface during the capturing process.

The series presents a collage of the universal essence of what it means to be a human. It’s provided me with a lens into the powerful and beautiful vulnerability that each life consists of.

Are the hands like a framing or composition element? How did this posture affect the emotion in the piece?

The position captured in “In Between Palms” is an emotionally integral and compositionally consistent part of the series. The resting-head-in-between-palms-posture seeks to connect and soften the subjects in an unguarded, open, and even vulnerable way.

What makes a good picture?

A good image stands the trial of time.

How do you make a timeless photo?

A timeless photo is not without the presence of a timeless moment. Whether the uniqueness lies in memorability, story, or composition, a timeless moment needs a photographer to pay fine attention to what’s unfolding in front of his eyes. Often, after all the preparation is ready in terms of location, lighting, makeup, props, etc., a photographer does not make but instead waits for the timeless moment to reveal itself.

How do you approach photoshoots with a brand?

Create a plan that guides the shoot not as a strict checklist but a blueprint for directions that allows room for spontaneity.

  • What is the mood and style of the shoot?
  • What is the message that the brand is looking to convey?
  • What are the logistics of the shoot in terms of budget, location, models, hair & makeup, props, and lighting?

How else do you prepare for a shoot?

After speaking with the client for commercial projects, I create a visual mood board with images that speak to the style and essence of the shoot. It is important to communicate to understand what the clients want and leave room for potential creative alternatives.

I go to the actual location. If shooting outdoors, I sit in the environment to contemplate possibilities in the forms of textures, layers, positions of the sun, and other elements for image-making.

An essential part of the shoot, whether commercially or for personal projects, is the process of planning. I make the main structure but allow for the “unexpected surprise” that could come on set. For example, once shooting outside during low tide on a rock by the ocean, the sudden wind created movement and shape as the model’s clothing started to wave. There was only a matter of seconds to capture that opportunity on camera.

For commercial projects, how do you blend your own personal photography style with the brand’s aesthetic?

Often in photography work, though not all times, less is more. First, understand the essence of the brand and the products, and then remove distractions within the frame that don’t serve the whole image. After, work with the models to create stories within the movement and composition to distill a timeless moment.

By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories