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Yunghi Kim: Master Of Standing Ground

Alongside teaching, Kim is working to update her considerable archive of film photography for the digital age. After finding that several unlicensed images had gone viral on websites across the globe, she has also been working to educate younger photographers on the inherent dangers of exchanging intellectual property rights in exchange for Internet traffic. She sees that most content creators, from musicians to writers to photographers, are fighting the same fight, to salvage their intellectual property rights while still being able to promote their work.

“There has to be paid content on the Internet,” she says. “That’s for journalism, that’s for TV, that’s for anybody who creates original content. We have this trend where everything is free, everybody is getting a free ride, and I think the biggest mistake that newspapers made years ago was putting content online for free in lieu of traffic, and that’s the pitch that Google and these Internet companies a
lways advocate—you’re getting exposure. And that’s where we’re at, and meanwhile, no one is making enough money. I look at it as, ‘No one in this industry survives if they give away their content for free.'”

Adds Kim, “Everybody is going on Instagram because they want to get the followers, they think it’s going to be the subscription model. But there are complications with the terms of service with these platforms. They’re changing every six months with copyright grabs and privacy issues, so it seems like the technology is moving faster than the legal system is able to catch up. From my perspective, everybody is making up their own rules, whether legal or not. They’re getting away with it, and there’s not enough oversight. Sometimes I let people use my work when they’ve asked me and I’m okay with it. It’s when people think that they can take your work without permission. And there are ads on those sites. They think that they’re going to be profitable, they think that they will be the next BuzzFeed or Huffington Post, so the excuse they use is fair use. Everything is a fair use, now, and I think that all has to be challenged in the courts. Meanwhile, my philosophy is that I try to educate.”

You can see more of Yunghi Kim’s photojournalism at Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


What I Use

Yunghi Kim has a signature style that’s only heightened by her primary lens of choice, the Canon EF 24mm ƒ/1.4L, an unusual selection for a photojournalist, as you must be very, very close to the action in order to achieve any intimacy in a shot. But when done correctly, as Kim has mastered, the wide-angle can capture the visceral intensity of a foreground subject while adding quite a bit of background information to a scene. Kim relied heavily on this lens during her recent coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the body of work captures a gravitas largely ignored by many of the other photojournalists who were documenting the movement, who instead chose to concentrate on glib slogans, cute signs and the drab conditions. With Kim, up close and personal is a bit of an understatement.

“I don’t work with a lot of different lenses,” she says. “I have them, and I’ve used them over the years, but I like to stick with what I’m comfortable with. Because I shot the Occupy movement as sort of a personal project, I had the luxury to do that, so it’s really all shot with one lens. The 24mm ƒ/1.4 from Canon, that’s my bread-and-butter lens, and I know how to frame it really well. A lot of this is knowing how your equipment works without even having to think about it. So I know my Canon and this lens really well, and I stay with what I’m comfortable with.”

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