A Chat with Joel Yum of The Image Interview

Joel Yum of The Image Interview
Joel Yum of The Image Interview

I got a chance to chat with photographer and creative mind behind an online art initiative called The Image Interview. Joel Yum started the image based interviews in 2010 as a way to expose the artists lives through a lens. Now picking up steam and having bookings filled for months in advance he is looking to further expand the website and the creative people involved.

The Image Interviews goals are to:

-Expose talented creators. It’s not easy to get yourself out there, we want to help.
-Promote creativity through personality. Afterall, it’s where your creativity comes from.
-Inspire others. Let’s learn from each other.
-Connect us all together. Pay it forward, pass it on, spread the word. Let’s help each other out!

What is the idea behind ‘The Image Interview’ and how did you come up with it? (also include when it started)

I originally came up with “The Image Interview” in 2010 as a portrait project when I first started getting serious about photography. I really wanted to show the world that beauty comes from personality, from individuality. I was having a hard time finding subjects but the more I kept on, it naturally progressed into showcasing creative people. Your personality is in your art, your lyrics, your dance etc. It’s a direct reflection of your personality. You can be the shyest, most introverted person but when it comes to your creativity you lay it all out. That’s what I absolutely love about creativity.

Who are the people involved and what do they do?

Right now it’s just me and Sury Kim. She came on board this spring and has been helping out with everything! She does all the write ups, helps with scouting features and spreading the word, and provides a creative eye on my overall design.

What is your background in photography?

I took a part time certificate course at Ryerson but it wasn’t the greatest experience. I would consider myself mostly self taught. I have to learn everything the hard way! The more I grow as a photographer the more it make sense with my personality. You can watch a tutorial on post editing, see “how I shot it” video’s, read up on composition but when it comes to photography you really gotta go out and shoot.

Where do you find all these great creative types?

We get submissions on the site but we pretty much have our eyes and ears open all the time for potential features when we’re surfing the web, at an event, or just out in general. Referrals are big too. The creative talent pool is so great in Toronto. There’s always a bunch of people our features are willing to send over our way. Spread the love!

What types of creatives do you have so far?

Our general categories are in art, comedy, dance, design, fashion & style, food, music, photography & video, tv & film, writing. But we also want to feature creative people that aren’t necessarily in the spot light. There are so many other creative people that are so integral to the creative process but are never seen. Storyboard artists, set designers, lighting technicians, casting agents, the list goes on!

How long does each article take? (stages of a preparing a post and length of each stage)

I spend one night doing the post edits, and another night storyboarding. I usually have to step away for a bit then come back with a fresh mind to make sure I’m happy with everything. It’s about the same with Sury for the written portion. Since our features’ hand written narratives are more conceptual, her written portion needs to be more structured. Between the post editing, story boarding, and the writeup, the whole process usually takes about a week. The biggest obstacle really is just timing. Everyone is really busy hustling so it’s really a matter of finding the time. Sury and I both have regular jobs as well but when you love it you make the time!

Do you have thoughts of expanding? Maybe adding new interviewers/photographers to increase the frequency? New cities?

Yes and YES! Ideally we would want “Image Interviewers” all over the world! It’s in the works 😉

What is the idea behind submitting an image interview that is coming soon?

We eventually want to have this as an open site for people to submit their own Image Interviews. Photographers, writers, videographers are all welcome! We would provide the basic layout for it but we want to have Image Interviews shot and written in different styles. We also want to incorporate local businesses to help them out as well. So it’s different interviewers promoting features incorporating a local business. We want to create the creative circle of life!

What gear do you use? (Your Camera and favourite lenses)

Alright, let’s get techy. I’m a Nikon user with a 35mm f/2 and a 50mm f/1.8. They’re my only lenses and my favourite lenses! The 35 has practically zero barrelling, and the 50 (G not D) is so sharp wide open at 1.8. Although if I had the choice I would shoot everything on film. Nothing beats the look and feel you get from film. It’s edgy and romantic at the same time.



About Joel Levy 2551 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography