The Minis: YJ Lee - Photographer and Dental Student
How did you become interested in photography?
I grew up looking at photos my dad took while he was in still living in South Korea, which initially sparked my interest in photography. Even though the photos were from a different time and place that I was unfamiliar with, it was so nice to see his perspective of the places he visited and photos of my mother.
You have an interesting story, because not only are you a creative person pursuing creative passions, but you are in dental school. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background?
I’ve always loved art and science and am very keen on design, which I believe is where the two meet. Dentistry is also a balance of art and science, because it not only involves many biological processes, but also requires the dexterity to shape teeth in an esthetic manner. I’ve always wanted to become a dentist, so I majored in Biology, because I love learning how and why things function and appreciate subtle details. It’s crazy how one tiny cell can have such drastic consequences, in the same way that the smallest details are what separate one person’s art from another’s.
How do you manage a school/life balance?
I’m still trying to figure that one out! I used to prioritize school over everything in undergrad and regret that deeply because it flew by so quickly, and I realized that I didn’t have many enjoyable experiences aside from some traveling I did during the latter part. From that experience though, I started prioritize seeing my friends and making time to do the things that I love like photography, running, calligraphy and reading. I think it’s important to know that school is not 100% of your life, and it is absolutely essential to schedule in breaks to prevent burnout and to be more efficient with your time.
What do you look for when you take photos? Are you drawn to particular details?
I look for subtle details when I am taking photos. The way the light moves back and forth at certain angles or distinct moments that are fleeting - certain elements that won’t be there if I came back to take the photo a day later. When I travel especially, I take a lot of time to think about the composition. Many people have cycled through the same places and have taken photos of what I am seeing, but our experiences are completely different. I try to take photos in a way that the viewer will feel like they’re seeing it in my perspective and hope they have a more visceral experience instead of a purely visual one.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
Nayyirah Waheed, Vivian Maier and Ray Eames.
How do you deal with stress?
I primarily run to decompress from stress, but I do find it helpful to talk to my mom and my friends and spend time alone reading a book while a candle is burning.
What are some of your short term goals?
I’d like to become more involved with projects, take on some photography jobs, improve my calligraphy and have a better school-life balance.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together, lifting each other up, and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support other women?
It is extremely important for women to support each other, because I believe fostering a community to help each other and to build off of one another makes a great environment for growth. It’s often easy to be discouraged and feel like things are a competition, but it’s not a competition. The overall goal is to create, and I believe that unity, support and community are the best tools for making and creating.
We love all things women. Do you have any favorite women created media?
I am a big fan of Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry, FKA twigs’ music and the podcast, History Chicks.