HomeKorean AmericanPhotographer Hannah Yoon captures our return to work

Photographer Hannah Yoon captures our return to work

By Mimi Chen, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Most of the time we like to talk about the people who are viewed thru a camera lens but this time, AsAmNews had a conversation with rising photographer Hannah Yoon and her work behind the camera.

1.  How did you get into photography?

  • “I had always been photographing my friends since middle school and all throughout high school. When I was living in Seoul, South Korea after college, I went on a trip to Bangladesh with a church group and was asked to be the main documentarian/photographer. Although I didn’t know what I was doing, I loved photographing people and what was happening in front of me. I loved seeing the end product of the photos. I went back to get my associates in 2012 in photojournalism and have been in the field since.”

2.  What kind of a photographer do you consider yourself to be?

  • “I’m a documentary photographer, but I also like to consider myself as a visual storyteller. I studied sociology and psychology in college, which led me to a place where I’ve become more curious about people, their way of living and the way they interact with one another. I think it allowed me to think about the importance of intersectionality and representation in photography. To have my educational background within those fields, allowed me to be mindful of who I photograph and the type of stories I want to see out there.”

3.  Your current project is with the brand Light + Fit and their Comeback Program to aid women re-entering the Workforce, how did this come about?

Courtesy: Hannah Yoon
  • “I’ve always been passionate about empowering and connecting women through photography and inspirational storytelling. In recent years I have covered the stories of many women and the challenges they face so I was excited for the opportunity to partner with Light + Fit on The Comeback, as I would be part of the process of highlighting each person’s story and their journey as they re-enter the workforce. The power to choose to take a break is crucial for women and I think it’s important for companies and brands to remove barriers that many women, especially women of color, face if they’ve taken a break from working. I want to see more companies come to the table, similar to what Light + Fit has done, to challenge this idea of having to hustle and grind all day, every day to be considered successful.”

4. As an Asian, how has your ethnicity defined your skill and experiences?

  • “I’m not sure that I can explicitly say that being Asian has defined my skill and experiences as I see skill being a mix of both a gift and something to develop and work on. However, as a Korean, I wanted to tell specific stories about my own community. I think being Korean allows me to have certain insights into the world and being a daughter of immigrants has shaped how I move through the world and how I communicate and connect with others.”

5. Do you see yourself being treated differently by people as an Asian photographer?

Courtesy: Hannah Yoon
  • “I’m not so sure. Sometimes I feel like I’m overlooked or assumed to be quiet and unassertive. I remember moments of people talking over me or assuming I wasn’t working because of how I look — small, a woman, and Asian. I’ve had people say ‘You’re the photographer?’ when I show up for an assignment, which is always interesting to me.”

6. What do you consider your strength as a photographer to be?

  • “I believe that one of my strengths as a photographer is my ability to listen to people’s stories. I don’t think it’s even about the photo as much as it is about hearing someone’s stories and letting that be what guides me. Representation is also very important, which is why I photograph images of the stories I want to see.”

7. How did you get to be so good?

  • “Haha thank you. I don’t know — putting in my 10,000 hours and making a ton of mistakes. I think there are a few things that have helped like looking at other people’s work, believing in the stories I wanted to tell, experimenting and not being afraid to show a bit of myself in my work. I believe this allowed me to get to where I am. Honestly, I still have a lot to figure out technically with the camera and using big lights and more. I also think curiosity and being open to feedback/growing as a photographer allowed my work to improve. It’s humbling to see how far my work has come because I had no idea what I was doing.”

8. What kind of photography do you see yourself doing in the future? Similar or different?

  • “I see myself staying in this field of photography while also hopefully being able to work on some corporate/commercial gigs that align with my values. I value integrity, openness, vulnerability, and honesty, which is why I’m excited to be part of Light + Fit’s The Comeback photo series as I was part of the process of highlighting each person’s story and their personal journey to re-entering the workforce.”
Courtesy: Hannah Yoon

The Comeback candidate criteria and program details are as follows: 

  • While Light + Fit® focuses on the challenges facing women rejoining the workforce, The Comeback program is proudly open to all. 
  • Candidates should have 3–5 years of experience in marketing or sales. 
  • Candidates must have been out of the workforce for 1+ year(s) Ideally, candidates will be within commutable distance of White Plains, NY for a hybrid in-office/remote experience, but fully remote work is an option with paid travel for an in-office visit/experience. 
  • $30/hr. Pay 
  • 6-week program duration 
  • Application closes on 4/1

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