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Issue No. 16 - Chaos

Meet the Photographer: Young Sam Kim

Young Sam Kim

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Young Sam Kim is a photographer, living both in Long Island City, New York and Busan, Korea. He was born in Busan, Korea in 1978. With an unknown etiology, his hearing became profoundly impaired at two years of age. At age three, he began drawing and painting lessons, using visual language as a form of communication. Kim studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York, graduating in 2002. He recently exhibited his first solo show, “A World in the City”, in New York at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in Chelsea. 

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How does the creativity and photography differ between Korea and the United States?

I learned painting at a Performing Arts high school in South Korea. I then went to SVA in NY and switched my major to photography. Most of my work has been done in the US so it’s very hard for me to make a comparison between South Korean and American photography. I’ve only done a few exhibitions in South Korea. The US has a lot of famous galleries unlike South Korea and that definitely influences me in terms of helping me to have a creative life.

Do you remember your first drawing?

I started to draw things when I was three years old so I can’t remember what my first drawing was. According to my mom, I began to draw circles.

Who or what is the first subject you photographed?

I first did photography when I went to school at SVA in 1998. During that year, I took my camera while walking around the Manhattan streets to take images of the city’s landscape.

What inspired you to move to New York City and pursue photography?

I don’t like to stay home all day; I would rather go outside and look around the city. The city and people in the city fascinate me. To complete a drawing, you usually stay indoors, but that’s not the case with photography. You can travel anywhere and immediately take pictures of whatever inspires you. When I take pictures with my camera, it has terrific composition. You can’t have that kind of composition through drawing.

What made you become part of The Korea International Organization to help hungry children worldwide?

I have a cousin who worked for the “Food for the Hungry” organization. While I was working as a professional photographer he asked me to take pictures of hungry people in Africa, which lead me to volunteer with them.  After I came back from Africa, I realized that I have to let people know how serious the situation is and that’s why I continue to work with the organization.

Where is your favorite place to travel?

The nature in Kenya is beautiful. Even though people in Africa are suffering a lot, they always keep their heart pure and don’t give up on their hopes. I took a lot of pictures of children there, and they were happy to help me even though they were starving. This is something that I will never forget.

What camera do you photograph with?

I have five different cameras that I use in different situations – aCanon 5D mark II, Mamiya 645, Canon 1N, Sigma DP2, and a Canon PowerShot G1X. Recently, I started taking pictures with a lighter camera. In order to capture good quality pictures, speed is very important but it’s much more comfortable to use a lighter camera.

Does it take a long time to edit each image?

To edit each image creatively, it usually takes me one to two months. I normally take hundreds of pictures and then pick the one that I need to use, which requires a lot of time and effort.

How important is post-production to your work?

Very important. You may not see anything wrong on the computer screen, but when you print the image, you can see the stain and noise. Sometimes, I get color images that don’t come out as I expect so I do a lot of post-production to perfect the work.

What is the vision you have for yourself?

As far as I know, there is no famous photographer that also happens to be a hearing impaired person. I would like to be first one. I may not hear things, but God gave me the light. I can see things that other people might not see and I can feel things that other people might not feel. My joy is in expressing my emotions and thoughts through photography. I would like to give hope and strength to those people who may be struggling with their own weakness.

What advice do you have for other photographers?

This is my first time having a gallery opening in Chelsea. I still have a lot of things to learn. To be honest with you, I have no advice to give. But, I would like to mention one thing: don’t compare or judge someone else’s work too quickly. All artists’ work has to be treated with respect.

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