Asian-Americans Re-Created Infamous Vanity Fair Magazine Covers And It Was Beautiful

Back in December one of my long time peers in the creative industry, Kane Diep, hit me up to shoot an ambitious project for Buzzfeed. Together we were going to photograph 22 producers in the infamous style of Vanity Fair‘s group covers. Challenge accepted! Somehow in one shoot day right before the holidays we would get 22 Buzzfeed producers (who are also busy with their projects) to show up, dress them up, and dazzle them up to be camera ready.


See how we did it:

Full Buzzfeed Article:

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (

Behind the Scenes:

Buzzfeed Melly Lee

Creating a massive group portrait in addition to 22 individual solo shots is nothing short of an ambitious task. In preproduction Kane and I had a number of conversation and visits to the Buzzfeed offices. Our conversations consisted of breaking down the components and logistics of our elegant photo goals. Starting with the group portrait we needed to find a large space with a high ceiling. I’m emphasizing the large space because if given the choice I’d prefer to photograph people using a long lens –which means I need space! On a long lens everything within the frame just compresses so beautifully. I also love, love, love giant soft light.

Buzzfeed Melly Lee

The group was divided and photographed as subgroups consisting of 5-6 producers. We did this so that I could photograph each subgroup at 70mm on a +  locked off on a tripod. Each subgroup would be composite together later in post.

Buzzfeed Melly Lee

Kane and I wanted to accompany the group photo with individual portraits of the producers to showcase their own individuality. We also wanted the portraits to be aesthetically different from the group shot, while maintaining a certain amount of consistency. Again, I love taking photos on zoom lens and in this situation I put together this preposterous setup on the Sony A6300.  Each individual portrait was taken at 200mm with the Canon 70-200/2.8L IS mounted onto the tiny A6300 using a Metabones Canon EF to Sony E mount Adaptor. Once you add a Pocketwizard Transceiver onto the hotshoe to trigger the strobes this camera package is absurdly large and worth every single ounce. With this camera setup I was still able to utilize the same lighting setup and  further separate the producer from the muslin background. By not having to create a completely separate setup for the individual shots we saved a lot of time! The time saved went into giving hair, makeup and myself additional time with each producer.

Buzzfeed By Melly Lee (



Sony A6300

Canon 70-200/2.8L IS


Metabones Canon EF to Sony E mount Adaptor
Pocketwizard Transceivers

Final Thoughts

This was definitely one of the best projects to end 2016 on. There’s nothing I love more than being able to work in collaboration with other creatives in a well-oiled machined environment. What also resonates deeply within me is that photographs’ intent is to elevate the Asian American presence in current media. If you haven’t noticed… surprise! I’m Asian American! What I love about the image is if you just remove the phrase “Asian American” from the description, all you’re left with is just a pristine image of a group of extremely, talented and clever individuals working in harmony. Granted, I do recognize we have to point a finger and say “look! It’s a bunch of Asian Americans!” just to draw attention to the issue. As of now the video is hovering around 700k 2.2 million (1/30/17) views and is generating a lot of conversation in the comments. I’m so proud of everyone on this project and so glad to be able take part and contribute with my talents.


Tuxedos: The Black Tux (
Dresses: Rent the Runway (
Heels: StyleLend (


Makeup: Yukina Mitsuhashi (
Hair: Yuichi Ishida (


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