The Hustlers: Yewon Kim

January 06, 2014 BY OBI ANYANWU


When it comes to "making it" in any industry, one can't deny that talent trumps all other factors. This can't be more true for photographer, Yewon Kim. Having lived in four cities spanning two countries, Yewon Kim discovered and embraced her natural talent later in life despite her original life goals and aspirations. Yet another thing talent trumps, although that does not mean her goals won't be met or her wishes won't come true through photography. She has been on the industry's radar for quite some time, and her recent work with Gap and VSCO cam's recent campaign is enough proof that 2014 will be her year.

We had a chat with this week's Hustler, Yewon Kim, about how she fell in love with photography and made it her career.

How was life growing up?

I'm a third culture kid; I grew up in three different countries, and moved around quite a lot. My parents are from Korea, but I spent most of my childhood and all of teenage years in Northern Virginia (where I spent most of my time sitting in the DC traffic)

When did you initially get into photography?

I grew up watching my parents taking photographs every now and then. My mother photographed for a world-renowned magazine, and going to galleries for her exhibitions definitely opened up my eyes. It wasn't until 10th grade when I picked up a DSLR and started shooting around. I played around with different subjects and concepts for a very long time; however, I sold the beloved camera when I moved to Chicago for school. I just really wanted to focus on my academics.

Was there another career path that you considered following?

Despite the fact I studied Industrial and Organizational psychology, I really wanted to go into counseling for addiction. A part of me still does.


How did you work your way into the industry?

I left my full time job and went freelance this May. I was burnt out, and wanted to do something creative. When people heard I (finally) had time to take photographs, I received a lot of requests and project proposals from PR agencies, publications, and even small businesses. From there, they introduced me to others, and we shook hands and signed some paperwork to work with each other.

What are some of your accomplishments in the industry?

Some people say seeing their photos in magazines or on billboards is their biggest accomplishment, but getting contacted by one of my favorite brands was, and still is, a major accomplishment. Ever since our first shoot, I got booked a multiple times, and we still keep in touch for more projects. Seeing my photos on their social channels and website still brings me back to the first email I received from them.


What else do you hope to accomplish in the industry?

One of many things I love and am passionate about is traveling, so I would love to photograph for publishers, companies, and/or brands while traveling (or get sent out to different countries to capture their beauty). Along with that, I would like to shoot more lifestyle-based photos. Probably combine those two.

What's the next step in your career?

I just moved to NYC from Chicago, so it is important for me to strengthen the relationship I have with the people I know here, and develop new ones as well. I would like to be that "go-to" person for certain photos in this city first, and see where that takes me.