My name is Youngjae Lim and I live in NYC. I was born and raised in politically the most conservative city, Daegu in Korea. But thank God, I left my hometown right after graduating my high school and turned out to be a progressive. I spent my 20’s(college and military service) in the capital city, Seoul and came to the USA to pursue a higher degree in statistics. I was too busy taking care of other stuff in my life. That is, I was too much into proving myself that I succeeded at least professionally, which in turn resulted in stressing myself out. So photography was still not part of my life until 2015 when I picked up an entry level camera just to take some good travel photos overseas. At the same time, I happened to run into some random street photographers and eventually NYC-SPC folks who greatly helped me into photography. Since then, I have never looked back until now.
I make images out of whatever catches my eyes. It could be a random garbage on the street as long as it interests me. Or it could be just an abandoned chair as you can see here.
Since I started my photography journey in NYC and still live here, 99% of my photos belong to the city. However, my basic philosophy is that I can take photos wherever I am as long as I am curious about my surroundings. I feel that I often make better images when I don’t think about where I am and a specific place to shoot because I find myself more open to the environment that I am in. In relation to where I shoot, one of my goals in the future is to go back to my country, Korea and spend some time to document what is happening there with my own vision.
Whenever something catches my eyes, I try to make images out of that. I had a bad dream the other night, which made me wake up sweating at dawn. I noticed a beautiful light coming through the blinds that I’ve never noticed before. I grabbed my camera and took a shot, and then fell asleep again. It took me a while to figure out when I took the photo while I was going through images in my Lightroom. However, the recent covid-19 outbreak also taught me when not to shoot. Now I come to realize that previously I was more intense and preoccupied when carrying my camera and trying to capture some great scenes to unfold in front of me. I decided to use this weird and tough time(mentally, physically, and politically) to learn that it is ok to stop and pause and then resume whenever I am ready to shoot again.
I ask myself the same question “Why” more often than not. I would say that I want to better understand myself and photography will help me get there. I am more interested in understanding unmasked myself than the persona I created in relation to the world and socialization. Growing up with the parents who had a high expectation on my education, I became more self-conscious about how I want to be seen and perceived by others. I can understand that version of myself much better because I created it. But I would like to go deeper into myself who I’ve failed to understand – the shadow in Jungian psychology terms. Looking through a pile of images that I’ve been making so far forces me to go into the shadow and ask the same question “Why” constantly. No question, no answer.