If you say you like having your picture taken, you’re probably lying. None of us do, unless we have complete control over how photogenic we may look. For instance, I was in the bookstore on campus today, and there was a professional photographer in there taking pictures of students in line. Naturally, I did everything in my power to avoid this. I’m not sure if I was successful or not, but I guess we’ll find out.
My point to all this rambling is that, if you do need to be photographed against your will, you have to find someone you can trust that won’t make you look like that middle school year book photo you probably tried to forget about until just now. You need someone like Eunice Yu, who is completely committed to the craft and the people around her. I’d trust her to photograph me.
CC: Can you please introduce yourself?
EY: My name is Eunice Yu, and I’m 22-years-old. I’m a fifth year at Tyler School of Art, majoring in photography K-12 Art Education, and I’ll be graduating in May 2013.
CC: How has being schooled in the arts helped, if at all?
EY: Going to a Fine Arts school, it really pushed me to look at things that I wouldn’t normally look at and evaluate things. All the classes that I’ve taken at Tyler, they’ve all helped me to develop time management and really pushed my level of effort in creating artwork, and I think the persistence and determination I’ve developed at Tyler is something that I don’t think I could have learned otherwise.
CC: What makes you special?
EY: In terms of my photography and artwork, people have told me that I’ve been able to make the personal universal, which is a really important concept for me because I want to make art that’s important to me, but can also apply to the general public too.
CC: What are your plans for turning yourself into a business?
EY: So I don’t have a solid plan for turning myself into a business but I’m slowly working on figuring out what kind of business I would like. And that has to do with what I enjoy creating and photographing. For the upcoming year, I am focusing on applying for grants, residencies, and exhibitions. My plans for establishing a business includes first focusing on making and promoting my fine-art work. I am interested in photographing people, cultures, nature, and landscapes. I hope to promote the combination of my interests and my photographic approach, to clients or organizations that can appreciate or connect my style. I would love to be a photographer for National Geographic and travel to different places and be immersed in a culture. I’d enjoy the challenge of exemplifying the experience of the culture through one photograph. But I also want to work as a freelance photographer taking portraits of people and places that I can spend more time with, without time constraints. With both routes, I want to use my photography to share with viewers an experience and a story.
CC: What inspires you to create what you create?
EY: I have two different approaches to work, and one is I look back on all the things I’ve photographed and I evaluate why I photographed those things, so I have a series where the theme is layers, accessibility [and] transcendence in space and for me, those are about how I feel and how I feel within society. So I think [of] photographs as an outlet to understand myself – it keeps me going. And my other approach to photography is, I like to photograph people in a more documentary and narrative style and to tell stories. And my first body of work, within an image there’s layers of information, but my second approach, photographing people, there’s a lot of images that need each other – like in the context of each other. So those are more layers of the story, so I like to photograph people to appreciate them and understand them. I like to create work to understand myself and others.
CC: What are you afraid of?
EY: I’m afraid of wanting to do so many things that I’ll lose focus on completing one project. I don’t want to spread myself out too thin. I want to do good work and I want to make great photographs and great artwork, but I don’t want to become distracted by my own ambitions or determination to get everything done.
CC: Have you ever gotten to a point where you felt like quitting and how did you deal?
EY: I have not and I hope I never will [laughs].
CC: What are some do’s and don’ts of photography?
EY: If you have an idea, don’t become discouraged if someone else has already done your idea because we’re all different and our approach to photographing something is gonna be different so make an idea your own and don’t be afraid to pursue it. Photography is a very visual medium, but do record – like write down your ideas, because we always forget things. Do explore other mediums too, like drawing and painting, I think it really helps to get out of that restrictive practice of taking pictures. Do network, get to know your peers. Get to know the work of people around you because they will become your contemporary artists. Don’t be afraid that an image won’t turn out the way you want, because it’s part of the learning experience.
CC: What are three things that you think photographers should do to get better?
EY: Print your work and see it on a wall. If they haven’t already taken the time to do this, play with sequencing work. Every little tiny adjustment in a sequence of photographs will tell a different story. The third one, present your work. Present your work to friends, family, people you don’t know. In our Senior Seminar Photography class this semester, you have to make a presentation to the class about your development and growth as an artist, and a lot of times people have said that they’ve learned so much about their own work through the process of making the presentation. You find out a lot about yourself when you start to pull images out of your own database, put them together and see where similarities are. Don’t just hide your work. You’ll realize things you haven’t when you present them.
CC: How has your ethnicity shaped your perspective on the art you create, if at all?
EY: It’s funny because my most recent body of work, which I had a BFA show on, it’s about my great grandparents. They’ve been married for 81 years and they are both 99. They came from Korea, about I think, 30-40 years ago and as a 1.5 generation Korean American, I’m very culturally different from them. I’m very Americanized, there’s a cultural barrier and language barrier and I think that really relates to how I feel, not just to my Korean culture, but society in general because when I started to photograph them for the project, I was very intimidated and I had a fear of not being able to communicate with them and photograph them in the way because I always want to maintain the dignity of my subjects in the images so I think the divide in my own ethnicity – experiencing two different cultures, it’s definitely created a challenge for me but in the same way, it’s help me grow as an artist.
CC: Which of your works is your favorite and why?
EY: My most recent project called “Because of Her: 81 years.” The project of my great grandparents has been my favorite for many reasons and through this project, that I was really able to practice making the personal universal.
CC: What are your future plans?
EY: I’ll be graduating in May and I did apply for a grant last semester, and I’ll be hearing back on the results anytime between March and June, so if I get that grant, I’ll be able to travel to another country, New Zealand, for ten months working on my own photography project there. If I don’t get the grant, because my other focus at Tyler is Art Education, I hope to teach at Art Centers or other non-profit organizations before committing to being an art teacher at a school. I hope to become an art teacher in about four or five years after I’ve gained more experience and grown as an artist, so I could be the best teacher I could be to those students. Other plans are applying for artist residencies, and continuing to apply to contests and exhibitions.
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(Posted by Kate Trowbridge)