What got you into photography?
I didn’t decide to be a photographer, and I still don’t categorize myself as a photographer. I was studying fashion design in college before coming to the US, so of course, I was more interested in fashion than anything when I moved to New York at 25. I had to learn English first, but who wants to go to a boring language school? I often skipped class and spent a lot of time hanging around Soho.
Since I was into fashion back then, I dressed up every time I went there. A street photographer (and he is my friend now) asked me if he can take a photo of me, I came up with the idea of utilizing photography as a tool to talk to people. That’s how I started carrying a camera with me.
How did you build up your career?
As soon as I started taking photos on the streets, I started running my blog called “I am Koo”. I consistently posted 2-3 times in a day, kept distributing my photos to random magazines. One day I got a reply, from Stella Bugbee - editor in chief from The CUT, she invited me to her office and told me to join all fashion weeks as a street photographer for the CUT. My artist visa got approved within only 3 days, I no longer was an international student anymore. (I don’t have to go to language school yay!) I worked for The CUT 5 years after that. I’ve come across many great people on the streets, through the gigs which made my career grew. At the same time, my Instagram account kicked off while nobody was using it yet, which also helped me for building my Instagram followers too.
What is your book Likewise about?
This book is all about my memories between 2013 to 2017 - people, objects, and places I have encountered through my film lens in chronological order. It’s obvious for those who are familiar with the film camera, the logo of the title came from “Leica”. Every single photo on this book was taken by Leica, I used a total of 8 Leicas.
Tell me what you really see through your lens.
There are moments. Moments I have to capture. There are no definitions for being a special moment for me, it is a serious of coincidences- an object, scene, unexpected incidents, colors- I wait for the moment to photograph, that’s it.
What’s your vision for the future?
I don’t know. I am currently based in South Korea, though I always have a feeling of moving back here. I’m still in search of what I really desire to do. I know it’s not a goal, but I want to travel all over the world as much as possible. That’s all I know, I live this moment. Who knows about the future, nobody’s tomorrow is promised, right?