To me, being part of this mission and community is to represent the Asian American folx who are creating a different perspective on who we are through the art they create. It is a privilege to be able to share my perspective which I believe shows a culmination of my experiences, values, and passion. I think being able to share those things helps others to understand who I am as an individual and to feel some form of connection despite any differences. Ultimately, being able to connect with those who resonate with my identity and passion means to not feel so alone.
The earliest memory of interacting with a camera are of my child self fumbling around with my mother's film camera and subsequently breaking it. I remember the desire to explore the different parts and wondering what they did, the curiosity so strong that I ended up damaging the camera not understanding its delicacy. My mom always brings up seeing me breaking it and chiding me in Korean whenever I share photos I've taken recently with the film camera I use now.
If I could talk to my younger self I would tell them not to break my mother's camera first and foremost! I definitely could have had the opportunity to take pictures on the camera that captured the earliest parts of my childhood I don't recall, which I think would have been such a beautiful thing for to do.
I would also tell them that all the painting and drawing on the walls of our childhood home, as well as the unconventional ways we styled and dressed our toys and ourselves wasn't an accident. It is a sign of our hunger and drive to create, be creative, be who we wanted to define ourselves as, and I would encourage us to be even more daring and fearless because that is what is helping us become our true selves today.
If I simply had a sentence or two: Be courageous, have faith that what you want to show the world, your loved ones, is worthy of being shared. Even if they don't approve at first, be persistent, don't let your inner saboteur tell you to stop because you'll end up regretting it!
Currently, I'm still in the process of mourning the loss of my father. He is the reason why I work hard and drive myself to do the best work I can, and to be caring, kind, compassionate. I know that you never really finish mourning the loss of someone so integral in your development as a person, but it has been a very introspective time in my life as of late. When I'm not at my day job, I often do my best to rest and to take steps in improving my craft and passion, photography. I want to make sure I am doing the things I need to do in order to live a fulfilling and long life for myself and to make him proud.
A perfect day to me starts with a good cup of coffee and being able to have the day off from work and to be able to think about concepts I want to shoot or testing new equipment that will help widen the type of things I can shoot and improve my skills. The creative process of planning a shoot brings me a lot of peace, and I often listen to music while doing so for inspiration. A slow type of day where I'm able to do things at my own pace and create is always a perfect day to me.
As a Korean-American which did not have many other Korean-Americans around growing up, my perspective and experience on my culture comes mainly from the food. Many of the things we eat emphasize the importance of time and waiting. Kimchi takes time to ferment and become what we often define as ripe. It takes time to have flavors of soups and stews to be considered optimal to eat. So for me, my culture is about patience for the best results. This translates to how I approach life as well, with patience and hard work, the simplest things become wonderful.
I would say it's a relationship on the mend. I didn't really embrace my culture until I was older, there was a lot of external influences which caused me to be afraid to appreciate it for what it was. These days I try my best to learn more about it, especially the art, food, and history. The catalyst for doing so was definitely to feel more connected to my father and to understand my mother. It has helped me be more forgiving for things which I used to be frustrated at with them.
I'm heavily inspired by editorial fashion photography, it has helped to develop my ability to think about how multifaceted a photo is and the work that goes into it. It is the driving force of my desire to create a concept or a story and to convey it within photos.
I'll also get inspired by music and colors I see when I close my eyes as I listen to music which usually is the foundation of the type of story I wish to convey in my photos as well.
Most important of my inspiration are the wonderful photographers I've had to privilege to connect with. They inspire me to continue creating the way I do and influence what it is I want to express in my work because of the meaningful things they express with their art.
To me, being an artist is to let yourself be vulnerable with people. As someone who didn't necessarily grow up being encouraged to express myself in whatever way I felt was right, being an artist is a risk. It's risk that is thrilling to take because you end up learning about yourself and connecting with people who you never expected to connect with. Being an artist is ultimately connecting with yourself through others and the inner child whose dreams and imagination you're finally getting the chance to be able to convey.
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