Here at The Fashion Law we really love to foster emerging talent of all kinds, young designers, models, bloggers, photographers, etc. So, on that note, Korean-born, NYC-based Youngjun Koo (above, left), is a street style photog. to watch out for. The 26 year-old, who arrived in the U.S. just over a year ago to learn English, has shot everyone from Anna (Wintour and Dello Russo) to Marc Jacobs and Aline Weber for his own site (I'M KOO), in addition to his work for NY Magazine. He spoke to The Fashion Law (in surprisingly great English) about his style, fashion as art, and what "fashionable" means to him.
The Fashion Law – Business today is so much about branding do you feel like photographers are brands?
Youngjun Koo – Fellow photographers often tell me I have my own signature, mostly referring to the fact that I have an interesting look. I'm a blonde-Asian photographer. But in terms of my brand, so many people are trying to shoot street fashion. For me that means my work needs to be more exclusive and specialized compared to the other street style photographers.
I try to do this by featuring different photo layouts on my blog. The main page only has full-body and detail shots of people. Once you click into the blog, there are more natural and reality moment shots. For each person I shoot, I feature a full body photo, detail shots from head to toe and a portrait shot. This is like the hidden meaning behind all of my photos. I approach it like how people look at one another. Usually we look at the other person's face, then look from head to toe and check their face again. So, that's how I present my photos. I want to makes people feel like they're really looking at the other person. I also use funny titles for my blog posts. I think the titles help people understand the photos.
The Fashion Law – Do you ever worry about people stealing your pics? Does this happen often?
Youngjun Koo – It happens really often, and I can't really stop it on the internet. Not long ago, I started adding a watermark, which I wasn't doing when I started. So many people were using my photos without credit. They just copy and paste. So, I decided to add a watermark to my photos so at least it shows my blog symbol when people use my photos to their own blog. I've seen so many photos without my credit on Tumblr. I hate the situation.
The Fashion Law – Street style photographers are known for shooting "fashionable" person. What does "fashionable" mean to you?
Youngjun Koo – It is hard to say. Fashionable means to me ... someone who is interested in fashion? I don't know really. Someone who is just interested in fashion, I guess.
The Fashion Law – How do you think fashion in America is different from South Korea?
Youngjun Koo – I was born in S. Korea, and spent almost 25 years there. I think its kind of boring always seeing the same people and the same fashion because we don't really have any signature fashion in the country. I think NY, London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo all have their own their styles. I didn't feel this way in Korea and so, I really wanted to go somewhere new. I've always heard that NY is new and happening, and now, I totally agree. I am constantly meeting interesting people and always seeing different things. I just think New York is so connected with fashion.
The Fashion Law – Refinery29 recently said you're one of the top young photogs to watch. What are your thoughts?
Youngjun Koo – I'm so shy. I need more experience and to just keep doing it.
The Fashion Law – People say fashion isn’t art (which I don’t agree with). I’m guessing you don’t feel that way.
Youngjun Koo – I just want to say 'get out of here' to those people. Fashion is real art. It is one of the essentials in our life.
The Fashion Law – You have said you're interested in focusing on taking natural disaster and war photos. Are you done with fashion?
Youngjun Koo – No. No. No. I want to do both. Of course fashion is FIRST and if I have an extra time, I would love to try shooting that kind of photography, as well. It is not separate for me.