I associate myself with the color gray the most. Gray is the color of indecisiveness, neutrality, and serenity. I lack a strong sense of self, and so I am often indecisive and uncertain. In most social situations, I am quiet and calm. It is difficult for me to be vulnerable/open and share my emotions with others, especially if I am not close with them.
It's been a while I've known Grace- but I think it's an interesting relationship because we have spent a lot of time as a photographer and a model. I don't know why exactly but I thought her appearance features were fascinating and the mood she has seemed to attract me because it seems like she had a story to tell. Thankfully, she was willing to answer my personal interview questions and reveal herself deeper than I expected. The photoshoot was more than a photoshoot, it was a great opportunity to get to know her deeper.
I actually did not know the film inside my camera was B&W; I bought three rolls at once and forgot one of them was B&W. The B&W films take about two weeks to be processed which I also forgot that it was faraway. But it was perfect since I had intention to capture her black and white, as she chose gray to be her color. The color was a surprise to me, maybe I was expecting a different color that she would describe herself. But as I read her whole interview, and met her for a photoshoot and planned the whole set up, it became more clear that these B&W film was eventually perfect for her.
It's already the third photoshoot with her, and I strongly felt this time for sure that photoshoots with her is very calming. Her energy is very still, so firm that I sometimes check if she is breathing (laugh). She stays still just as I give her directions, and she seems to dive deep into the emotions I let her feel and express.
The inner quality that I like most about myself is my ability to empathize with others. Empathy is the capacity to understand another individual’s emotions/experiences from their perspective, and I think that is important to have to care for others.
The word empathy was the strongest vocabulary I remembered from her interview; which I put most effort for this set. Unseen connection, I connected the flowers with transparent string, and let her softly dance around the flowers.
The black and white photographs digital versions look for sure as if it cannot reach the beauty of the films; but because I actually almost never shot in black and white except for back in London, it was a good challenge to have in my practice. In Spring quarter I learned about Sally Mann, and It was first time of actually being mesmerized of black and white photographs. Probably for next black and white I'd go for a film even though it's a bit pricy.
Although I am of two cultures, I often feel that I belong to neither. From a young age, I realized that I look different from both sides of my family; I do not have blonde hair and blue eyes, but I also do not have straight black hair and dark skin. I also have been told by my peers that I am not “White enough,” or “Asian enough” in regards to my appearance and mannerisms. I am sure the people who have told me these things did not mean any harm, but their remarks and treatment have affected the way I view myself. I know that what others say about my identity should not matter, but it is difficult for me to feel secure and wanted/valued when I have been told and/or treated as if I do not belong. I love and value various aspects of my two cultures, but at the same time, I am not entirely sure of who I am or how I want to express myself.
I actually never knew she was half German until recently. Even though I am full Korean, somehow I connect to her isolation between the two different nationalities. I felt like I never belong her neither in Korea. Visiting Korea was more of a travel, seeing my root culture from a far distance. Oklahoma was like home, but it was difficult to find people like me. It took time, but it was definitely a unique experience that created an unexpected form of identity. Whatever Grace feels relates to all of us who live in a country where it is very different from our original roots. But it seemed as she was slowly just letting her thoughts be flowing, staying, and hopefully she will find the right middle point just as I did.
One thing I would like to change is my perfectionist mindset. I often set high expectations for myself, and when I am not successful, I am overly critical of myself. Though perfectionism has motivated me to complete my work and strive for more, the tendencies that I have because of perfectionism are toxic for my overall well-being.
I do not think other people see me the same way that I see myself—at least I hope they do not.
When I look in the mirror, I see things that I do not like about myself. I tend to fixate on certain parts of me, and I notice small details. When I was younger, I hated my hooded and uneven eyes, large nose, and acne-prone skin. These parts of me were insecurities, and I wanted to change them so badly. I have learned to accept my appearance more now, but I still struggle to feel neutral towards it from time to time.
The mirror shot was the finale, also one of the most exciting set I was looking forward to. Her answers were pure revelation to me, because I know exactly what she felt in front of the mirror. And I was more than certain that not only me and her, but all the females think like her in front of the mirror many times. So my purpose was not to capture her vulnerability, but her bravery. She was being strong and determined to share her own 'face' in front of the mirror. And it was powerful.
Her prayer request and hope was clearly delivered like a love letter to me. Preparing the shoot, it was a time for me to reflect upon what kind of a person she is, and how her words echoed in me as well. The thoughts became to a prayer, and I was grateful to create a beautiful collection just for her.
I really thank her for always being so cooperative to my works. She does not talk a lot, but her eyes and mouth says a lot to me as she stares at my eyes when I talk. I really appreciate Jon, for being part of my project again- he was willing to be part of it until the last moment even though the shoot got longer. Thank you :)