What images come to your mind when you hear the term “identification picture?” Stuffed face, tight mouth, white background. You might think of these kinds of images. Unlike selfies or snapshots, ID pictures can be considered awkward with its fixed format and firm face. But there is a person who has broken this stereotype. It is photographer Si-hyun at the “Sihyunhada” photo studio. She became well-known for different background colors for each person’s ID picture and now it is popular enough to close reservations after 30 seconds of opening new sessions. And here’s another surprising fact. She is still a university student in the Department Photography at CAU. CAH met and talked with Kim Si-hyun who dreams of becoming a nice sister at the photo studio.
CAH: The 1000 People ID Photo Project has finished recently. Describe your feelings about it.
KIM: I thought this project would take two or three years since I was planning to take twenty or thirty people each year during my school days. It is an honor to finish it within a year thanks to a lot of support and attention. It was really great to know that there were so many beautiful and awesome people in Korea. Everyone takes a portrait at least one time, and there are many more people than I expected who have traumas with it. I think that’s why my project could receive more interest from people. I hope that my work can remain in history to show that these kinds of people existed at this time when we look back about 100 years later.
CAH: The progress starting from project task to business could never be easy. Did you have any difficulties?
KIM: I didn’t mean to earn money but I started it to experience beforehand so that I could have a feel of my job and take to photography as a business. I didn’t expect that this project would get this big, so honestly everything was difficult for me. At school, I only learned how to take pictures and I had no knowledge of business, or how to treat customers. Everything was the first time so I was clumsy at expanding the work. At this point in time, it's a burden to me that I always have to be the first place, NO.1.
CAH: I heard you grew up with a camera in your hands and frequently took pictures of people around you. What were the most impressive pictures you took when you were young?
KIM: The most impressive work I’ve done is my high school’s graduation album. It was a small school with only 40 students in one grade. As I met and interacted with 40 students every day, I got to know them really well. I thought I could make their beautiful looks more conceptual. Giving two pages per person, the first page was the picture that I took with my intent and the next page consists of a picture that my friend wanted. Originally we had no graduation album, but I completed it of my own accord and with the help of friends, so it is the most memorable work that I’ve done during my schooldays.
CAH: Why did you enter the Department of Photography at CAU?
KIM: In fact, my dream is to have my own photo studio not to be a professional photographer, so I had no interest in entering university. However, my mother told me that it would be better to go in and judge whether a university education was necessary or not. I agreed with my mother so after preparing really hard, I could study at CAU. As I wanted to open my photo studio, at first, I considered majoring in business administration. But I wanted to learn photography more technically, so I applied for the Department of Photography.
CAH: How does/did CAU help your current work?
KIM: Although I entered university without any expectations, it was so nice that I could experience what adults could do within the parameters of student learning. By talking and doing work with friends, I learned a lot from them. Especially, with the abundance of high quality of pictures, I could do all kinds of experiments. And on the basics of learning at CAU, I could also plan and conduct the 1000 ID Picture Project.
CAH: How did you get so good at handling cameras and Photoshop?
KIM: As an only daughter, I stayed at home a lot when I was an elementary school student. While I was alone, I played on the on-line community site “Say Club”. It is similar with “Buddy Buddy” and “Cyworld”. At that time, I got to know about Photoshop and learned how to use it by myself since it was really interesting. I also listened online lectures. With university students, we made a group and designed our homepage. In these ways, I learned it while playing, so I could approach it more easily.
CAH: You are taking portraits with different background colors reflecting people’s individuality and needs. I wonder how the color is decided and the most important point you focus on when you choose the color.
KIM: Before the customers visit out studio, we send a text message to think about the color. And when they come, I gave them a paper to find some words to represent themselves. Moreover, considering what they wear, their make-up, skin tone, characteristics, and personal preferences, I recommend the color in detail. I go into the camera and I adjust it more precisely. The most important point that I focus on is the atmosphere that customers wanted to be shown, and the question “What kind of person am I?”.
CAH: On Social Media and your website, there is a quote “Show from the smallest to the greatest.” What does it mean exactly?
KIM: I actually took that quote from a Japanese animation. When I was young, I really enjoyed watching animation on television. There was an animation that I was really into and the quote “Show from the smallest to the greatest,” was actually the main character’s motto. I was so inspired from the main character’s motto that it eventually turned into my motto as well. So, I decided to follow the quote while I work on my portraits too. ID photos themselves have a lot of rules and regulations to follow, which I believe to be the smallest values. Therefore, I wanted to keep those things in mind but also turn them into the greatest quality possible and make it a great work of art for individuals. This is how my motto is used in the creation of pictures and portraits.
CAH: After the project, it changed from the ID (identification) photo to “one person portrait.” Please introduce us about your “one person portrait” that you are currently working on.
KIM: “One person portrait” basically has a wider spectrum than the ID photo. As you know, ID photos have strict regulations such as showing your ears and other rules to suit as ID photos. However, a “one person portrait” is more of a natural picture that can be taken more comfortably. One can tell how they want the picture to turn out. Also, individuals can be more harmonious with the color, nature, and the settings as well. I really like the project that I am currently working on since it has fewer limitations and therefore I can freely show my spirit into it.
CAH: How and what made you open a photo workshop for everyone?
KIM: One of the biggest reasons that I opened a photo workshop is because I wanted to share photography with everyone. Since a photo studio is a place where it gives the output, the photo, I wanted to give the best gift to them. Moreover, I always wanted to work with a lot of people and make master pieces together as a whole. I believe that doing this not only helps individuals who want to learn more about photography, but also it helps me in that I can learn from their passion and their philosophies. So overall, I wanted to make my photo studio as a place where memories can be shared among by numerous people.
CAH: Is there any lecture class or professor that was memorable during your university life? If there is, please tell us why.
KIM: Yes, there is one professor that actually helped me a lot in making this project. The professor’s name is Soo-sik Lim and he changed my perspectives about ID photos. When we were just drinking coffee at the café, he told me that any type of photos or portraits can be truly mine once there is my effort that is put in the work. He also told me that there are numerous ways that the photo can be displayed. Photos that are in the galleries show their beauty and the photos or portraits at the museums could show history. From then, I thought that little ID photos could become or make the history of our country. Professor Lim totally changed my mind about photography and taught how a photo can be something much more.
CAH: When you take a picture, do you have your own philosophy or principle that you apply to your work?
KIM: I always try to make the camera capture all the individuality of a person. I believe that the camera must capture all the things that I can capture with my eyes. The beauty that I see with my eyes should also be also shown through the camera and the picture. In order to do that, I revise the photo multiple times until one is satisfied with his or her photo. I try to make each photo to the fullest and to the greatest at all times.
CAH: We can definitely see and feel your passion toward your work. But, is there another field that you are interested in other than photography?
KIM: Another thing that I really enjoy other than taking pictures or working on photos is traveling. I just love to travel and I do go on trips often. I am a type of person who likes to go on a vacation whenever there is time to spare. Just last December, I went to Iceland. There, I saw a beautiful aurora. I love to travel from different countries to new countries.
CAH: What is your future plan or after graduation plan after taking time off from school?
KIM: I currently do not have any future plan. I try to only focus on the project that I am working on. However, even if I would like to work and go to school at the same time, I cannot. Since my campus is in Anseong, it is very hard for me to go from Seoul to Anseong. So, I just decided to work hard and build more experience as much I could.
CAH: Please give advice for Chung-Ang University students in general that may help them to achieve their dreams as well in the future.
KIM: I want to tell everyone that each and every one of you has a special and unique personality. Do not be depressed because you have complexes about yourself. Having a complex simply means that something is different from the standards or norm. It’s not weird or anything. So, love yourself. Be yourself. Be proud of yourself. To do that, it is crucial to take time and really get to know yourself. After taking that step, you will recognize that you are already truly loving yourself.
“Sihyunhada”, photographer Si-hyun’s photo studio, basically made a new history in the world of ID photos. Si-hyun, a young but talented photographer, changed people’s perspectives on photos and portraits. This amazing and intelligent girl is now on her next step to becoming an historical photographer in South Korea. CAH will always anticipate Kim Si-hyun and her photo studio to become the next top photo studio in the world.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >