“I hope you feel like you’re in a different world when you look at my work,” Korean artist Oh Se Ae says. She’s ostensibly a fashion photographer, but in reality works more as a multimedia artist, creating editorial spreads through the use of photography, digital manipulation, collage, lighting, and collaborations. The result is a collection of shoots full of mystery and hope mixed with struggle and desire displayed in work that often looks like it could be a painting. “I aim for a picture-like atmosphere because it feels different from reality.”
Oh didn’t set out with the goal of being a fashion photographer, and maybe that’s what leads to such risk-taking. She studied textile design at university and tried out VJing for a while. When she first started expressing herself through photography, she was shooting landscapes and daily street snaps. And she still doesn’t consider herself a photographer primarily, calling herself a mixed-media artist instead. “I’m always curious about new things and get interesting ideas while playing with various materials. But photography has been at the center of my work for quite a long time.”
Fashion photography is a field that allows for a lot of experimentation, which Oh says is part of its appeal. And working with models and shooting portraits is an effective way to communicate emotion. She sometimes finds it hard to express her personal feelings since there are so many people involved in the process. “But I love that I get to work with friends who are interested in doing something that isn’t so commercial.” While her work is very experimental, she’s been pretty successful, shooting covers for major magazines like Korean Vogue and GQ and working with K-Pop stars like BLACKPINK and aespa.
One common feature across Oh’s work is the use of metallics. Precious metals often signify wealth, but there’s a deep human fascination with shiny things that loaned them their original value. They inspire a yearning rooted in wonder and awe that goes beyond avarice. She taps into these feelings with makeup that glitters and shines, styling that embraces unique pieces with gleaming textures, and color schemes that loan themselves to the illusion of chrome effects.
Haze is another regular effect Oh uses regularly in her shoots. Filters, effects, and textures spread colors across the picture, mixing and drifting into each other and across boundaries like fog or liquid. The approach adds to the surrealism or her style, detaching it from from the hear and now, and drawing viewers into hypnotic, dreamlike states. This is not content meant to sell shoes or T-shirts, these are creative collaborations with the central motivation being to achieve an aesthetic vision.