I've lived all over the U.S. and East Asia but currently call Seattle home. Growing up a bit of a nomad, I needed to document the fleeting worlds around me in words and pictures. My camera has been my constant companion, capturing the places and people who've helped fill in the details of my life: from loud nights with my large family to quiet mornings in coffee shops with friends; through my time as an anthropologist, working in tourism to one of the most isolated countries on Earth, a Japanese preschool teacher, and now parenthood.
My family could never afford a nicer camera, so my budding photography career was always limited to Kodak disposable cameras until I turned 23 and bought myself a Canon EOS 30D. Growing up, I was always on the move — usually relocating across the country, but often accompanying my mom on a business trip, or going on a plane by myself back to Southern California to see my family. This left me with a kind of existential feeling of flux, knowing that everything around me was impermanent, and photography was a good way to combat that. I could photograph my friends so I wouldn’t forget their faces when I moved again in three years. I could photograph the lake down the street where I would just sit on the shore and feel at peace. I could photograph the places I travelled, to remind myself that I was there.
I came to decide on professional photography through my other previous careers. While in university and grad school, I lived and studied in Japan and South Korea, and also worked for a time in tourism in China. I know that sounds like a bit of a u-turn from academia, but my specialization was on the history and anthropology of tourism, and specifically, tourism to North Korea. After leaving the tourism industry, I worked for a brief period of time as a Japanese preschool and kindergarten teacher here in Seattle. I also enjoy translating print and visual media, and only wish there were more hours in the day so I could devote more time to it.
So then, why the switch to photography? As I’ve grown, and especially since having my baby, I am more acutely aware both of how quickly the days pass and how precious every day is. I love travelling, and I love photographing new places, but at a certain point, it all just felt like kind of the same thing over and over again. Having my baby and seeing him grow up, I was struck by how desperately I wanted to capture every moment, and how challenging and rewarding it is. Pretty buildings and tranquil landscapes are all well and good, but there’s a special kind of joy in chasing around a small human and capturing their joyous grin on film.
My love for photography grew out of a need to transcend impermanence, and it has helped me to connect with people across states and oceans, in a multitude of languages. In “The Art of Travel,” philosopher Alain de Botton talks about how we should approach our daily lives with the wonderment we usually reserve for travel; in other words, to find joy in even the most mundane, everyday activities. (There’s the academic in me; can’t even get through a self-introduction without quoting a book). I believe photography is a fantastic way to keep that wonderment alive. My goal as a photographer is to capture life in all its forms, from a lazy Saturday morning making pancakes in your pajamas, to a train trip up the coast.
I speak English and Japanse fluently, am conversationally fluent in Korean, can get by in Chinese, and speak a decent amount of Irish and Norwegian. I'm also fluent in understanding what you're saying in Spanish, though I'm bad at responding. If you or anyone with you would be more comfortable speaking in any one of those languages, please don't hesitate to let me know.