7 Minutes with Yu Tsai, fashion photographer and creative consultant on Asia’s Next Top Model
Photographer Yu Tsai’s work speaks for itself. A scroll through his Instagram and you’ll notice the beautiful fashion campaigns and magazine covers (we spotted four international titles in this month alone) he has shot so far, and he has continued to establish himself as one of the most successful Asian-American photographers in the fashion industry. In conjunction with the premiere of Asia’s Next Top Model Season 6, we spoke to him about his role as the creative consultant on the show, and some of his interests outside of photography.
1. Tell us more about your role as the creative consultant of Asia’s Next Top Model (AsNTM).
Yu Tsai: My job as a creative consultant is to continue to challenge the models to think and model differently. Behind my tough love, I always want the best results from the models.
2. You’ve been part of the show for three years in a row now. How do you constantly keep things exciting for the viewers?
YT: Each year, we come up with different challenges for the models. The different personalities each year also helps keep the viewers stay excited.
3. Which AsNTM alumni are you most proud of?
YT: I am proud of all the models. There are some who became influencers, and some, popular TV hosts. This season, we’ll be introducing not one, but three ASNTM alumni for the first time—Monika Santa Maria, Shikin Gomez and Minh Tu Nguyen.
4. Can you tell us more about it?
YT: I am so proud of them. I can tell that each one of them has really watched and listened to me teach over the years. They have grown so much, and other models should definitely be paying attention to them.
5. What do you think of our Malaysian contestant this year, Rubini Sambanthan?
YT: Rubini is one of the strongest models of this season. Her determination is truly admirable.
6. What qualities do you look out for in a model?
YT: The most important quality is confidence.
7. Who is your all-time favourite model?
YT: Cindy Crawford, hands down.
8. You’ve shot in so many exotic locations around the world. What’s been a personal highlight?
YT: Switzerland is one of my favourite places I’ve ever photographed in. Every angle looks like a postcard, and the light there is magical.
9. What are some of your passions outside of photography?
YT: I was actually a wildlife biologist before I became a photographer, so wildlife conservation is really close to my heart.
10. Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most talked about movies recently. How do you feel about being a successful Asian American photographer in the fashion industry?
YT: I am extremely proud of my heritage. Being one of the few Asian-Americans in the fashion industry who is internationally known is an extreme honour. I feel that it’s my responsibility to continue to work hard and maintain the highest quality so I can inspire other aspiring Asian-American photographers.
11. Now that Asia’s Next Top Model has finished filming, what’s next for you?
YT: I am filming another show in America right now, and I have another new show in the works that will be released in Asia in November. Stay tuned to find out what they are! I’m very excited.
12. What advice would you give budding fashion photographers?
YT: Shoot what you love, not what you see others doing.
13. Please share your favourite memory of Malaysia.
YT: What I love about Malaysia is how modern it is. There are so much history and culture in the country. And of course, how can I forget about the food? I love Malaysian food.
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