Archived Interviews Articles

Interview with Hye-Ryoung Min

I first became aware of Hye-Ryoung Min when I saw a fashion spread featuring her multiple exposure images. Combining fashion with a strong fine art twist, the series was complex and dense, and startling beautiful. And then I found her personal work, and more multiple exposures and really fell in love!

But Hye-Ryoung’s work is more than just multiple exposures. Perhaps her most Iconic images are of models defying gravity. She also documents scenes from New York City in a style that is uniquely her own.

Hye-Ryoung Min  Copyright © 2010 Hye-Ryoung Min

How did you get started as a photographer?

As a kid, I was always playing with my father’s old film camera. My first introduction to traditional B/W photography -and my first exhibitions- came about when I joined Han Yang University’s Photo Club, ” HY Focus”. At the time I was fascinated by fashion and advertising, so when I completed my BA in Advertising and Public Relations I enrolled in a one year intensive advertising photography school. When I completed the program I found work as a first assistant at a major fashion photography studio in Korea. Later, I came to New York for additional training in photography which I got at FIT and SVA, and also started shooting assignments for Korean fashion magazines based in NY.

Hye-Ryoung Min  Copyright © 2010 Hye-Ryoung Min

Your work has appeared in major magazines in Korea and elsewhere in Asia – and yet you live in New York City – how do you manage such an International career?

Assisting in Korea allowed me to make connections with fashion editors. As soon as I arrived in New York, I started getting assignments for subjects such as street fashion, interviewing designers, artist or fashion people, or shooting fashion week. Having completed a few jobs, the editors recommended me to other editors or ad companies. Korean fashion magazines and advertising companies shoot many stories and campaigns in this city. Most of the time we communicate through email or by phone, and I do castings, interviews, shootings, and write articles, or sometimes I work with magazines’ correspondents, or for big jobs with crews that fly here from Korea. Sometimes I get to meet with editors in person during NYC’s Fashion Week. Other times, I never have a chance to meet them until I visit Korea, even if we may have been working together for long. I think working abroad requires more responsibility, a better understanding of what is expected from me. Maintaining a good relationship is also very important.

Hye-Ryoung Min  Copyright © 2010 Hye-Ryoung Min

Your multiple exposure images are so beautiful! Do you create them in-camera, or do you combine single images in post? And how do you decide what to combine?

I used to make multiple exposure images in-camera when I shot film. Falling in love with digital, I wanted to try digital multiple exposure, which allowed me to have more control, accuracy and a greater ability to execute carefully planed concepts. My works are built on a series of layers, and I work intensively to find ways to make them true digital multiple images, not just an accumulation of layers.

My digital multiple images are interested in showing the interior worlds of my subjects: the thoughts racing through their minds, or the emotions they hold in their hearts. That’s how I see the world and that is our complex life.

For more on Hye-Ryoung Min please see her website at

Interview with John Mireles

Super cool and Americana do not typically belong in the same sentence – but in the work of San Diego photographer John Mireles the housewives, the businessmen, the beer drinkers, the middle-aged gardeners, and the rock climbers are all rendered as surreally cooler than cool. Whether the end result is commercial, or documentarian, or a fine art series, his work is always incredibly detailed and tells great stories – interesting stories – stories about the super cool life you wish you led…

John Mireles is definitely one of my favorite photographers of all time!

You balance so many types of photography – commercial, fine art, portraits, weddings – how do you do it?

This is a complicated question. Actually, I guess it’s my answers that are complicated. The simple answer is that I love photography.

For a long time, I used to think of myself as at different times as a “sports photographer” or a “commercial photographer” or a “wedding photographer.” Now I realize that I’m an artist who communicates his view of the world through my photography. It’s a fundamentally different way of approaching my work and one that’s allowed me to expand my focus.

I’m not a simple person. I have many sides to me. If my work is a reflection of me, then it should rightly have many sides to it as well.

I love photographing people. Whether it’s a kid in a portrait shoot, a bride on the wedding day, college kids partying, strangers on the street or a model on my set, they’re all people upon whom I project my view of the world. The real goal for me is to share something about my understanding of life with others. Just like most photographers switch lenses to get different shots, I use different subjects to share my larger view of the world.

I guess what I’m saying is that where you see many different types of photography, I see it as me expressing the same basic message through different channels. To me, an artist is someone who has point of view, a message, a way of seeing that they must share with the world. After many years, I’ve finally gotten comfortable with the label of “artist” because that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Besides, I get bored if I keep doing the same thing. I thrive off the challenge of doing new and different things.

Your portraits from Burning Man in particular are amazing – the image of the couple on the bikes with the bubbles, the woman with the flying hair, the guy with the goggles covered in blue paint splatters – how do you make images like that happen?

I’ll start with talking about my equipment. I only use wide angle lenses. That forces me to get in really close to get the shot I want. The famous war photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your images aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I live by those words.

I’m not afraid to violate someone’s personal space either. I’ll just get in there. I’m also not afraid to go up to strangers and ask to photograph their breasts (at Burning Man) or whatever.

This past weekend I photographed a Spring break party down at the beach. There were thousands of partiers in the water along with media and plenty of photographers. None of these other photographers even got in the water. They were on the beach with their big fancy lenses. I saw their images online and they all look the same. They’re boring.

Mine are in your face. You can feel the debauchery in your gut. I was out in the water and in the mix. People thought I was crazy shooting with my SLR with no water protection. But that’s how you get the shots. There’s a fearlessness and commitment that’s required.

What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your career?

Hmmm… when you’re getting started, you don’t listen to what anyone says so I’m not sure what would have had an impact.

I’ll say this: Photography is not about the camera. It’s about understanding ourselves. The key to becoming a great photographer lies not in the gear nor even in the practice of photography. It lies in understanding what makes us tick as individuals. Forget taking workshops, go to psychotherapy to become a better photographer. If we can tap into the deep emotions that drive us as humans and release them through our photography, we not only can create powerful stuff, we create work that no one can ever copy.

Most folks just want to copy what everyone else is doing. Yet, our own lives have such rich source material that there’s no reason to even look at someone else’s work if we choose not to, much less copy. Greatness lies within.

Granted, most people will ignore this or think that it doesn’t apply to them. Most people will never grow to their full potential nor step beyond the range of average. Don’t worry though, it took me nearly 20 years to begin to understand this and I’m just scratching the surface of my own personal journey. Being an artist is far more rewarding – both financially and spiritually – than being a photographer following the masses.

For more on John Mireles please see his website at

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