Vivian Kim / Jewelry
Vivian Kim is a self-taught film photographer based in Los Angeles. She’s inspired by the beauty of the natural world and makes it a point to be mesmerized by it daily.
Here, she talks about her experiences traveling abroad and how they’ve transformed her world perspective, what she believes our purpose in life is, and advice for aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background:
Hi! My name is Vivian Kim and I am a self-taught, film-favoring photographer from California.
What has your photography journey looked like?
Well, I think I was first intrigued by photography when I got my first camera flip phone (Verizon EnV). I loved capturing simple moments with the click of a button, and loved even more so, being able to look back at and remember those moments. I really became passionate about pursuing photography as a dedicated hobby around 2012/2013. I started looking at shots through my iPhone 5 differently, and more significantly, was introduced to film photography by one of my best friends, Dylan.
Is photography your full time job?
Yes, it is! However, being the easily distracted and hobby-loving gal I am, I still end up taking on a bunch of side projects. I’ve really been trying to refine my investments, though, and am prioritizing photography above all.
Which do you prefer: film or digital?
Film, for sure! It’s what I learned on, and it’s what I’ll continue to shoot. As we all know by now, there’s such an authenticity to film. The colors are so pure, the composition is often more thoughtful, and the result is just much more real and timeless.
Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your work.
Nature is the number one source of inspiration for me. Over all, it’s completely influenced my life perspective, which bleeds into any/every thing one creates. I fell in love with the world before I fell in love with any human, and I think it’s really the most romantic suitor in the world! Regardless of where we live, whether it’s a village in Fiji or a tiny apartment in a huge city, we get to experience and interact with nature. Wake up early, listen to the birds sing, or look up at the sky, go for a swim, think of how the tides push and pull at our coastlines… I promise, when we pay attention, we will be completely in awe with the way that our world works in perfect harmony.
You do a lot of traveling! Are you usually abroad for work? Or play? Or both :)
I do love to travel because I love to learn and am thrilled by new experiences. Because of this, I knew I’d have to enter into a career that would allow me the time and space to travel. I guess it all kind of worked out, because now, I try to include both work and play in my travels. It’s all about balance! If I know that I want to go to a certain place, I will try to book work around it to bring some work along. If I know that I have to travel primarily for work, I will try to tack on some R&R/exploration time around it.
Which travel destination (or trip) has had the deepest impact on you and why?
I think of two trips immediately. In 2015, I went to Fiji for a month on a service trip with my university. However, during my time there, I did not really partake in much service at all. Instead, I was welcomed into the most loving village community, with whom every day was spent cooking, laughing, harvesting coconuts, swimming in the sea, playing volleyball, laying down some rocks for the road or establishing other foundations for the village, etc. It was camaraderie like I’d never experienced before. The Fijians had so little, in terms of material possessions, yet were so rich in love and life and wisdom and happiness. It really made me realize that our purpose in life isn’t to succeed, or make tons of money, or find the perfect man/woman, be recognized for this or that… No, I think our purpose in life is a bit simpler than we complicate it to be—perhaps to wonder and be mesmerized by life on this planet, to delight in the countless gifts we’re given daily, and to be and spread love in all of our interactions.
How do you want people to feel after looking at your work?
I want people to feel inspired to find beauty wherever they’re at. Yes, some places are a bit more captivating than others, and some have it harder than others, but I still firmly believe that beauty is everywhere if we look for it. It may not pop out at you right away, but if you look and acknowledge the good around you, you’ll start to notice more and more every day.
Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused?
If I’m feeling uninspired, I tell myself to keep creating. Sometimes, you just have to push through the creator’s block and keep practicing your craft. Inspiration comes and goes externally, but it can also be created as a result of practiced work. It’s inevitable that as you continue to pursue your craft, you will generate new ideas throughout the process.
What influences your creativity?
I can become quite a workaholic sometimes… and get caught up in organizing details/plans/etc. It’s necessary for me, though, to prioritize my hobbies (road trips, meeting new people, surfing, traveling, reading, etc.) as they make my mind feel excited and happy and ready to create. Aiming to be in a creative mindset can be exhausting, so it’s necessary for my peace of mind to take time to just chill, as well.
What advice would you give aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career?
Set yourself up for success. Continue in your day-job, or night-job, but pursue your passion at every other moment and learn how to monetize it. You WILL eventually have created a stable (enough) income from your passion to make the jump and pursue it fully. You might be barely profiting initially, but work really earnestly to improve your craft and be a good person to work with, and the money will come.
Believe in yourself. It’s so easy to doubt ourselves and make excuses for ourselves. I realized at a certain point, If I don’t believe in myself, who will? Be your biggest fan, even if you have to fake it—because that little bit of hope, when magnified in your head to be how you feel 100%, WILL rule out those doubts you have.
Finish these Sentences
My guiding value is my relationship with God. He’s been my hope and rock and the addressee of many excited, frustrated, lonely journal entries. His faithfulness and blessings throughout all of my years has been so real to me.
I lose track of time when I’m writing. I love writing, and I think I loved it before I loved photography. I have so many thoughts in my head, and writing them down helps me to listen to myself, and reflect on situations in a more universal and less biased way. Plus, writing is just so poetic and beautiful to me—that we can somehow string some words together and create a captivating phrase, or tell an otherwise lost story.
I can read The Stranger by Albert Camus over and over again.
Here’s an excerpt for reference: “I had the whole sky in my eyes and it was blue and gold. On the back of my neck I could feel Marie’s heart beating softly. We lay on the float for a long time, half asleep. When the sun got too hot, she dove off and I followed. I caught up with her, put my arm around her waist, and we swam together. She laughed the whole time.”
I believe that we get to create the life we want to live. Think about what it is you really want, and set goals to make it happen.