- Doing Time, 2022
- Photograph, giclée art print on paper
Born in 1992, Chinese-American photographer Sophie Zhai developed an affinity for photography at the age of 13, embarking on the journey in 2005 with a camera, which was a gift from her late father. Sophie has since then developed a deeply personal relationship with her surroundings through the lens. Her work, guided by a keen eye for people and life, is a blend of essentialism and visual story-telling that welcomes free interpretation. Sophie started out by working with models on fashion editorial assignments in LA, but her work ethos quickly outgrew the constraints of the scene. In 2014, she returned to NYC in the hopes of exploring more meaningful and nuanced subjects, and it is there that she found her niche and developed a reputation of visually profiling classical musicians. Believing that the standard photos found in concert program books more than often were blasé in spirit, Sophie was determined to utilize her insight and individual approach in the service of instilling life in the portraits of the performers, inspired by their raw essence. The thematic undercurrent that defines her work is that constant search for the balance between unlocking the tradition-defying individuality and vibrancy of these musicians and holding reverence to classical music’s historical legacy. Over the years, she has collaborated with a multitude of artists. Her work has been praised for its juxtaposition of a timeless aesthetic with an electric twist. Sophie now calls NYC home. Aside from her photography career, she devotes time to a lifestyle magazine, of which she is the editorial director.