When people ask my what kind of photography I specialize in I usually say, Environmental Portraiture but I shoot pretty much everything: teens, food, gardens, interiors, dogs, bio tech labs, garbage, kids, crafts, Reagan’s funeral. I love photographing people because It forces me to slow down and look, to be more open and generous than I would be in my daily interactions. I ask a million questions of my sitters because I want to understand my subjects and because I am just plain curious. I consider my portraits collaborations because I wouldn’t be able to make them without the subjects’ input of ideas.
My Origin Story? I was born in Seoul and immigrated to New Jersey when I was 5 so I consider myself a Korean-American-Jersey girl. I studied photography at RISD, moved to New York and got hired straight away by Albert Watson as his first, full time, female assistant. In NY, I assisted fashion, portrait, still life, interiors, travel and food photographers before getting my first shooting job for The Face. I was one of three photographers The Photographer’s Gallery in London took on based on my work Mendham, New Jersey which documented teenaged, suburban girls who were students at on my old high school. While I enjoyed working with some of my favorite magazines (Teen Vogue, New Yorker, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, Domino, Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Time, W, Details, Jane, New York Magazine, Glamour, Elle Decor, Monocle, Dwell, Wallpaper* and T Style). I always shot personal work on subjects that were close to me: portraits of my two boys while they slept, the nuns who taught and terrified me when I attended St Joe’s Catholic School, Korean American seniors’ funerary portraits, our relationship to garbage, and the future of waste management. And lots of young people. I have an affinity with young people. I like talking with them and feel lucky that they open themselves up to me, sharing personal stories. Maybe I have this knack because I vividly remember what it was like to be an awkward adolescent. I know these young people are questioning and searching, trying to figure out who they are. I try to be someone who takes the time to see them.
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