INTERVIEW WITH JINNA YANG @projectinspo
In just over six years, Jinna has built a successful career as a full-time photographer. Writing GET PAID TO SHOOT, an e-book on how she has built her photography business while travelling the world. While also self publishing her own beautiful photography book Eleven Tides.
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jinna - I’m Korean-American, lived in NYC for 6 years before deciding to travel full-time around 4 years ago. I’ve been a professional freelance photographer for four years. That first trip is actually what jump-started my photography career and gave me the confidence to pursue photography full time.
When did you first start your photography journey?
During my last year in university, I became a bit tired of my coursework and decided to try to teach myself how to use a DSLR camera. I rented a camera from the camera department at my university and the journey of trial and error began. That was almost 9 years ago now.
What time of day do you prefer to shot at?
I love shooting at sunrise and sunset, when the lighting is phenomenal.
Among all your work what is the most memorable moment you have captured?
This is maybe too difficult of a question to answer! Haha. I would probably be proudest of my work swimming in heavier waves in Western Australia.
There is something about the lack of control + need for confidence/training that comes with underwater / heavy surf photography that makes the end product so much more memorable.
Can you tell me about your blog and how you decide on your content?
Project Inspo started as a travel journal - it was personal and raw storytelling, complete with photographs of my very first international trip throughout Europe.
I wanted to bridge the gap between informative + aspirational travel content. I saw a need for more travel blogs with useful travel content and high-quality visuals.
How has moving photography into the ocean changed you?
About two years ago, I started to feel myself becoming less and less passionate about the direction of where my work was headed. My creative purpose has always been to tell stories that shift perspectives and bring positive change into the world. However, I wasn't so sure that my work was reflecting my reality anymore. Enter, instagram's let's-document-everything-and-travel-just-to-take-photos-at-pretty-places craze, and I found myself thinking, "there has to be more than this?" and craving authentic inspiration.
I began spending months soaking in the work and reading the stories of underwater/ surf photographers. I became nothing short of obsessed. Not only do these photographers possess the technical prowess, but lack none of the physical and mental strength necessary for the environment in which they create.
This isn't just about having the right equipment on the right settings to get the perfect shot. This takes a lot more. Shooting in a studio can present its own challenges, but shooting in the ocean is a feeling like no other.
How do you continue to educate yourself to be become a better photographer?
I ask questions. I work with other photographers. I google, everything. And most importantly, I get out there and try new things. Some of my biggest creative accidents have led to my most special pieces of work.
When you travel what must have equipment do you take?
I always take spare batteries, lens cloths and extra USB cables. I also recently bought a new hard drive so I make sure I have two with me.
What is the most memorable country you have visited?
Iceland will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first place I ever took a trip. It completely changed my perspective on my place in the world - I was surrounded by such a huge landscape - one that I had never even seen/felt before.
My problems thus became much smaller, and my hope for my future much larger. I would love to go back.
What country are you dying to shoot in but haven’t had the chance yet?
I would love to go to Western Africa and Tahiti.
Lastly what is one piece of advice you would give someone starting out in photography?
Just start. Don’t feel like you don’t have enough schooling or talent. Photography is an art form, it’s a storytelling form - it’s subjective.
It’s not a club of elites who won’t take you in and show you the ropes. Be authentic in what you do, be passionate about what you create - and people will be able to feel that through your work.