April 1, 2016

Daniel Kim: Photographer of the Year

2015 Stocksy Awards: Celebrating the Best in the Biz. The Stocksy Awards celebrate photographers across twenty-one categories who produce truly outstanding work that not only takes our breath away, but pushes the industry forward. Visit to check out our 2015 winners and to watch the awards show video. Keep your eye on the blog for interviews with all our winners!

Daniel Kim is an Arizona based digital and film photographer, in constant search for that right light that can do film stock justice, and vice versa.

// Please tell us a bit about yourself and your path to becoming a professional photographer?

I started in college when I switched my major to Fine Art Photography at Arizona State. I had been shooting friends, when someone offered me a job to shoot an event. It was at that point that I realized I could make a sustainable income from doing what I loved. At ASU, I learned the art aspect of photography from my professors while sitting through lectures, spending time in the darkroom, and conversing in critiques. With my commercial photography, I learned the business aspect of finding out what my clients wanted, how to educate the market on my style, and how to run a business in general. These two different and completely opposite aspects have helped me to find a balance between art and business, and I wouldn’t be where I am without either.

// What does winning Photographer of the Year mean to you?

Winning Photographer of the Year means a lot to me because it shows that people still appreciate film. Outside of our iPhone photos, a lot of what we put and sell on Stocksy is film-based. It’s not just important for me, but for the entire community who has gone before me to work to keep film alive in the digital age. There’s a bigger picture outside of myself. It’s about showing people that yes, you can still shoot film, yes film is beautiful, yes people will buy your film photos, yes you can still be intentional with your process as film slows you down. This is huge because it’s showing that there is a market for film and for all the film photographers, and also it’s showing that the people who have been quietly working to keep film afloat have made a great impact on the industry.

// What has been the greatest influence in your work?

My wife. She is the one always encouraging us to travel and go out and do things, so when I bring my camera we get a good variety of settings. She also comes up with a lot of great ideas for the photos that we put on Stocksy and manages our account, curating and choosing what we put on there.

// What creative projects are you currently working on?

I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and so I’ve been working on a BJJ series of grapplers in the Arizona scene. So far it’s a series of portraits against a backdrop and action shots of people fighting, but I’m hoping to expand it into a behind the scenes view of diet, the soreness of getting up in the morning, and every day life outside the mats.

// How do you stay motivated to shoot and create?

Photography is our only income, so I know that I need to keep getting better and keep making good work if I want to eat. Adapt or die. The minute I start feeling comfortable is when I know it’s a warning sign that I’m not improving.

// What are you currently excited about?

We have our own film scanner on which we scan all our stuff, and have just acquired a developer to process our film negatives. Lately I have been dedicated to the developing aspect of film and getting my process down to make consistent negatives. I’m excited and a little scared, but more excited because it will mean that we are 100% self-sufficient.

// Anyone special you’d like to thank who has contributed to your success?

Michael Lundgren, Betsy Schneider, and Peter Bugg — my photo professors at ASU — have taught me how to create and think objectively about my work and art in general. They’re still out there making work for the art world and making sure that the gallery and museum aspect of photography doesn’t die.

Kurt Boomer has really given me a lot of motivation and support in my journey through the commercial aspect of photography. He’s one of the few that has pushed film from the start, and continues to push film.

Luke and Mallory Leasure, who are also fellow Stocksy photographers, have always been there for my wife and I. They are without a doubt some of my favourite human beings, and I believe that your soul matches your art, and they are beautiful all around.

And, of course, my wife. She is by far my biggest motivation and biggest contributor to my success. She was there from the beginning and never doubted that I could make a living with this.

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