Q&AZN: Photographer June Kim on The Unique Asian American Experience
In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, editors Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho of Banana Magazine are taking over Milk with eight different features, highlighting some of their community’s best and brightest creatives. Next up? Photographer June Kim.
When we were first introduced to June Kim, we knew instantly that we had to collaborate with her on Banana. The NYC-based photographer possesses an indescribable panache for softness and romance, not only in her work, but in her presence on set. For Issue 004, June photographs Asian dominatrixes Lucy, Dia and Yin, plus-size model P.S. Kaguya, fitness trainer Stephen Cheuk, Broadway actor Jin Ha, and queer Asian collective Bubble_T in our Gender + Identity package. June is hands-down one of our favorite photographers, and we’ll be watching (hint: you should too) as her career takes off.
Read on for more about June and how heritage plays a part in her identity.
What is your heritage?
Korean-American, daughter of immigrants who moved to the states in the late 80s.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in the Bay Area in California and made the leap over to Brooklyn exactly one year ago.
Who is an APA creative that you look up to?
Having worked on the Gender and Identity feature for Banana Issue 004, every single person I got to photograph was really inspiring through how passionate they are. Jin Ha in particular is one to watch—not only is he talented as an actor and performer, but he as a person exudes confidence, joy, and genuine kindness. I’m excited to see how he soars in the very near future.
How has your heritage played a part in your passions and in your work?
Lately, it has been central to my work whether in editorial, fashion, or art photography. When I work with teams these days, I love being able to collaborate with fellow Asian-American stylists, producers, makeup artists, and models. There are so many people out there killing it, and it’s a joy to come together to make great work.
In terms of art photography, I’ve learned that although there are so many amazing Asian photographers, there’s a lack of Asian-American photographers. I’m working on projects that have been exploring that grey area, the hyphen that creates our unique experience of being Asian and American.
When was the first time you realized, through your career or your passions, you connected with your heritage and felt that sense of pride?
Unexpectedly, I felt this the strongest right when I moved to New York. It was a perfect storm of my personal thoughts on wanting to make work about my cultural identity, meeting inspiring people like Kathleen/Vicki of Banana and other very close creative APA friends, and being in a city that cultivates creativity regardless of cultural bounds.
What are you gearing up for right now in your career? Plug in what you got going on right now!
Now that I feel a bit more situated in New York, I’m going hard with personal and professional projects. I just got back from a trip to Korea making photographs, and I’m aiming to turn it into a book by the fall. Alongside that, I’ve been planning to open up a print shop and have more open studios in NYC. I’m in a stage of laying low and making lots of work, but all the updates will be on my IG / website very soon!
Featured image courtesy of Minnow Park
Stay tuned to Milk for more from Banana Magazine.