Not Just A Pretty Feed: Ariel Tzu-Chi
Hidden treasure seeker, vintage curator and photographer - Ariel shares her story of travel and life in San Francisco, Tokyo and Taipei.
Her photos lead you on an exotic adventure through a forgotten time. Until you realise, that these are captures of places you've likely heard of - and they're from the present. Ariel transports you into her world. Her unique sense of vintage fashion, and cultural curiosity is embodied in her photographic portraits.
She enjoys telling the stories of others, capturing soft emotions through her elegant photography at Detached Attachment. But she doesn't stop at photography. Her online vintage select shop, Ditto Assembly evokes a culture and sense of escape. Vintage kimonos, silk scarves, brooches, jackets - with a certain poise and nostalgia of Japanese, French and Italian styles combined. This is what Ariel seeks to do in her travels - find hidden treasures that capture the culture and history of each place she visits.
We chat to Ariel about seeking the unfamiliar and being honest about the stories she crafts around it.
Tell us your story Ariel. How has travel shaped your life and work?
I am a photographer, so naturally traveling is something I always long for. On top of that I am an inquiring person, I am constantly curious about what’s out there and passionate about learning new things and making new friends. I want to know people’s stories. Traveling allows me to achieve that and it also gives me stories to tell.
I'm drawn towards the unpredictable and unknown more than a static routine. I am always elsewhere in my mind and I love being on the road. I think my photos reveal that quite frankly.
What place has been the most memorable for you?
I can’t really pinpoint just one since every place I've visited has a special place in my heart (and I have a big heart ;) ). But I consider San Francisco my home away from home. I lived there for 6 years and it’s where I truly found myself as a grown woman and artist. It is also where I built the personality and lifestyle I have today.
What does ‘being real’ mean to you? In your own travel content, and in the travel content that you look for?
I personally admire honesty, and I seek for it in myself, in any relationship, as well as in my content. I believe that as long as you’re genuine in everything you do, you never need to explain yourself too much, because people will perceive it. I can’t put out content that isn't authentic - it simply goes against my personality. Therefore, whenever I am capturing the moment, even if it’s for the grid or with editing, it is always true to the original.
I always say jokingly, “I am my own reference” but honestly, it is how I am with my work. In terms of content that I gravitate towards, it isn't overly edited, nor is it one-colour-for-all feed content. The world is colourful, so your feed should reflect this. Make culture, not colour themes.
What role do you think travel plays in bringing together different cultures — both offline and online?
Traveling experiences are all very personal from person to person. But these experiences, and the stories to be shared; that’s how people have been brought together since the beginning of time. Traveling permits us to foster better mutual understanding between different cultures and other people. Traveling allows us to let go of prejudice and embrace all the foreign elements - eat local food, interact with the surroundings with good intentions, and be grateful to be in the present.
Nowadays, we have multiple platforms to share our stories and for that, we are a blessed generation. The message we can convey through our feed is essentially the best thing about social media because the power to influence is more accessible than ever. Before and after putting content online, we need to keep researching and understanding the history and future of what we want to say. Keep ourselves accountable offline and go beyond pretty pictures, that’s an important step to forward the dialogue between cultures.
Who do you love following for their real travel stories?
- Rachel Nguyen (@thatschic) — an LA-based content creator that I could just watch all day. Her fashion photos and travel vlogs are so intimate and aesthetically pleasing in every way. She is definitely one of the best storytellers online.
- Dingdong Lee (@dingdong161)—a Taiwanese photographer whom I learn a lot from. He has the most tender eye and you can see it in his content. I love that his subject matters are just people around him and he makes every little moment so cinematic.
- Naomi Lin (@omilatte) —a Swiss-based Taiwanese content creator who lives with her little family. Though more of a beauty and fashion instagrammer, she has a very genuine approach toward life and everyday life looks like a Gypsy’s poem.
This is part of Not Just A Pretty Feed, our Q&A series with creators across the world, uncovering their unique and diverse travel stories. We learn how travel has shaped their lives, influenced their work, and what being real in the world of travel content means to them. Continue the journey with UK raised now Tokyo-based photographer and designer, Ben Richards.