A Close-up Shot with Julie Yoo, Photographer

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By Langley Topper, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee

Meet Julie Yoo, our speaker for the upcoming February 28, 2015 Mother-Daughter Photography Workshop. Julie answers a few of our questions and gives us a chance to learn a little more about her. Check out her website and view her work at www.julieyoophotography.com.

1. Where and how have you studied photography?
For the most part, I am a self-taught photographer. I’ve taken few courses in the past at various art schools where I learned technical aspects of photography but my main academic background is in literature which I think shapes the way I see images to tell stories about my subjects. Most importantly, I am constantly learning through artists’ workshops, books and museum exhibitions to stay inspired.

2. What types of photo projects do you typically do?
I am a family portrait photographer. I take pictures of children, families and high school seniors, using natural light and meaningful environments for the subjects. There are many projects and products I offer but I always encourage my clients to consider albums and wall displays as they become tangible reminders of their families and their beautiful relationships. There’s nothing like holding your memories in your hand.

3. What is your favorite part about being a photographer?
Besides the part of making beautiful images, my favorite part is meeting and working with various people and helping them to preserve their memories. It’s an incredibly rewarding journey for me. I also love the fact that as a photographer and an artist, you never stop learning and creating. I’m always learning new things with each client I work with and try to push myself creatively.

4. How does being a photographer affect how you view the world around us?
Naturally, as a photographer I tend to see the world in visual terms. It is instinctive for me to notice, for example, how light falls in a space or on someone’s face or figure out how a setting becomes a “scene” that has a power to tell stories, even if it’s only in my mind. As I am always looking at my surroundings to find interesting light, color, texture, etc., my definition of “beauty” undergoes a change. What is beautiful to me is not necessarily what another might consider so. Additionally, since I try to see connections between people, I think I have become much more emotional and sensitive to feelings than I was before. I think photography makes you more aware of how people feel and react to other people.

5. How do you think photography can be an instrument of change?
A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say. A picture has a power to move people emotionally and influence the way they look at certain things or people. Of course, such power of photography or images is very powerful on a larger, social and political scale. As a portrait photographer, however, I work on a more intimate scale, creating family moments, building relationships and giving people the freedom to express themselves in images. These moments become a catalyst for defining one’s own sense of self and their place within their families and society. I like to think these changes bring positive outcomes for them.

5. Do you ever feel that photography is an impediment to living in the moment?
Sure. I think that’s a legitimate concern in this era of hyper visualization and documentation. In fact, I think there is research to suggest exactly so and that people who are constantly taking pictures and documenting their lives may actually have a lower level of memory than those who do not obsess over taking pictures and documenting their lives. When I am with my family, I am very aware of being present in the moment. I try to step away from a photographer’s role and try to engage with my family on a personal level. And when I do take photos, which I do of course, I know that I will remember the moments I captured on a photograph as well as those I did not.

6. How do you recommend getting started in photography?
There are so many ways. To photograph is to see, foremost, so training your eye to see is imperative. I would recommend exploring history of photography and learning about artists as a starting point. Of course, there is the technical aspect of using a camera and processing your images but I think those follow how your mind creates the images you want to make. Then it’s practice, practice and practice. Don’t get caught up with having the best equipment because it’s not the equipment that makes a photograph.

6. Are there any social media sites on which we can view your work?
My website is www.julieyoophotography.com and my facebook is www.facebook.com/julieyoophotography. Come visit and say hello!

We look forward to the upcoming mother-daughter photography workshop with Julie on February 28, 2015. We hope you can join us!