Senior runs photography accounts on Instagram

January 25, 2018 — by Callia Yuan and Kaylene Morrison
Photo by Ian Kim

Senior's shares his passion for photography on social media. 

Senior Ian Kim was driving up the road to Castle Rock State Park at 5 a.m. last summer when he saw something. Awestruck by the morning light, Kim took out his Fujifilm X-Pro2 and ran into the middle of the road to snap a couple photos — despite the danger of oncoming traffic.

This kind of commitment to taking striking photos is nothing new for Kim. In fact, his passion for photography began in sixth grade after he saw an old camera shop in Switzerland. At the time, he was unable to afford and operate vintage cameras featured in the shop, so instead, he began taking photos of Switzerland’s rural villages and mountain ranges with his iPad mini.

“Before, photos were just a thing in picture books and stuff but after developing my skills since being inspired at Switzerland, I finally saw photography as an art form all on its own,” Kim said.

As his photography skills continued to develop, Kim needed a place to post and preserve all his photos, so he created a photography account (@ianminkim), where he posts his most  aesthetic photos.

“I thought Instagram was more accessible and less exclusive,” Kim said. “I could get more live response and interaction rather than VSCO or other platforms.”

One particularly arresting photo features the illuminated cityscape of downtown San Diego.

“I had to take it from a hotel room on the 13th floor through a window, and it was just such a pain to position the camera,” Kim said. “It also took about 25 minutes to take, because every time I hit the shutter, I had to wait for about 2 minutes for the long exposure. If anything moved unnecessarily, I had to retake the shot.”

Kim also runs a separate Instagram account, which he calls his “food account.” It features a variety of foods ranging from sandwiches and gourmet burger joints to sweet treats from Korean dessert counters. Kim said his food account used to be his personal, everyday account, but it naturally developed into a food account due to the frequency of posts about food.

As a high school student, Kim’s schedule is packed with academic responsibilities and doesn’t give him much time to hunt for restaurants in the Bay Area. Oftentimes, his photos come from restaurants in Southern California, which he often visits to participate in a variety of cello camps and competitions.

Although Kim’s account may suggest that getting a good photo is high on his list of priorities when choosing a restaurant, according to Kim, it is actually not something he considers when picking restaurants.

“I go to places for food to eat, but I always bring my camera,” Kim said. “I never go to restaurants for the visual appeal; I go to try the food and post the pictures I take.”

Before posting, Kim normally edits his photos of food on his phone through the Instagram app, while photos that go on his primary photography account are edited with Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. Additionally, photos on his photography account are taken with his higher quality camera, a Fujifilm X-Pro2, rather than his Google Pixel.

Prior to owning the Fujifilm camera, Kim used a Canon 80D, but decided to make the switch because of the Fujifilm’s compact size and lighter weight. It also has a quick shooting speed, which enables moving objects to be photographed rapidly, allowing him to snap photos of a site bustling with people while undetected by those around him.

While owning a high-functioning camera is essential for avid photographers, it can be difficult to obtain one, which Kim said is one of the only negative aspects to photography.

“Gear costs a lot of money, and my parents are not willing to dish out thousands of dollars worth of lenses, tripods and camera bodies,” Kim said.

Besides the high cost, however, Kim’s family appreciates his hobby.

“My friends and family actually love it, especially because they think they can use me like a personal photographer,” Kim said. “They take it as a given now [when I run into the middle of the road to take a photo], but they still always worry a little of course.”

Recently, Kim has begun to charge customers for photo shoots. He also prints out enlarged versions of his photographs, which will possibly be for sale in the future.

One of his recent clients was senior Hannah Yoon, who was planning on applying to theater colleges that required headshots to be sent along with applications. During the hour-long photo shoot at Wildwood Park, Kim ended up taking more than 30 photos.

“The photos he took really shows that he knows how to deliver his clients' specific requests,” Yoon said. “Usually, I would have to pay around $500 to get these types of photos, but [Kim] delivered professional quality headshots for a fraction of that.”

Though Kim does not plan on pursuing a career in photography, he plans to continue doing it for the rest of his life.

“I’ll probably have my main job and then have photography maybe even as a side job — but you never know,” Kim said.


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