If you are familiar with Daniel Kim's work, you'll easily spot his images at first glance. With illumination being Kim's primary focus, this natural light creative portrait and wedding photographer began shooting weddings in college while studying for his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography. Daniel in action is truly a sight to see as he naturally and effortlessly glides across every venue savoring each picturesque moment on film.
Now you'll spot Daniel photoing alongside his wife, Ashley, with a tiny brown eyed babygirl strapped to his back. This on-the-go father does it all while capturing heirlooms for your family and children to come.
Photography: Daniel Kim + Ashley Kim
Hey Daniel! Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I am a photographer that specialized in film and weddings, and shoot alongside my wife (and sometimes baby). We love everything about film, and the way that it captures color. All of our work is not sent out to lab, but is rather worked on inside our home with our own equipment, and thus giving us complete control to how we want our colors instead of relying on another set of hands. We love to travel and grab photos wherever we can.
We've had the honor of being featured on numerous publications and I was recently named the 2016 Stocksy Photographer of the Year, which is so exciting!
You're a new dad! Are you loving having a new subject to photograph?
Yes! I am a new dad. But more importantly, I am the husband of a new mom. There is a lot that I wasn't able to do to prepare for the birth of our child, so the role of the dad is to be the husband first of the mom. I'm still new to the whole dad thing, but so far what I've gleaned from my experience is that the best way for me to be a great dad, is to be an even more awesome husband. I'm working on both always.
Quite honestly, I haven't shot as much of my daughter as I should have, but I'm okay with that. I do have a lot of iPhone photos though, a lot of selfies of the mornings that we spend together, photos of her trying to crawl or videos or her playing peek-a-boo with the cat and her stuffed animals. They may not be the best photos, or even qualify as a techincally competent photograph, but I think at the end those will be the ones I cherish the most.
How do you and your wife multi-task raising your growing babygirl while traveling and photoing?
Multi-tasking taking care of our daughter, while running a business and traveling and shooting is HARD. Being self-employed is a ball of multi-tasking. Throw a nap schedule, feedings, poopy diapers, and early morning wake up calls, and when you're friends come around saying lets go out at 9pm, you'll be ready to say I've already been sleeping for an hour. We're still definitely in a transitional phase where we are picking and choosing our jobs now. Before, we had the freedom to fly at the drop of a hat to wherever a client wanted to shoot, and to take on last minute jobs out of state. Now, we are quickly learning what is probably going to be the most important skill of my career, and that is learning to say No.
I've come to learn that a small job that I don't necessarily need to take, but is nice, is still a job that is taking away time from Emmy. I learned this sobering fact when I had taken a string of local small jobs back to back to back, and realized I had seen my daughter for a total of 6 hours over the span of 3 days. On the fourth day, when I went to pick her up from the crib in the morning, I noticed she looked slightly different. She grew right before me, and I missed it. So for next year, we have made a concrete decision to only take on a certain amount of work, and spend the rest of the time making sure our daughter gets the quality time she needs with her parents.
In the meantime, I am taking my wife and my daughter to any job that I can bring them on. So if I'm doing a small shoot in San Diego, I'll book an extra day or two at an AirBnB and we'll spend time out there as a family after I get my work done. When you travel for work, all of your time is spent alone. You're waiting in the airport baggage check alone, the rental car line alone, driving alone, eating alone, sleeping alone. I thought, why am I doing this by myself. If I can, I should bring my family. Even if she may not remember it, we believe that all these different experiences of going to all these natural parks, seeing flower fields, trees, dipping in ocean water, seeing the edges of cliffs and hearing ocean waves crashing, experiencing different weather, not sleeping in the same room night after night, will have an impact on her development. So it's worth it for me, even if it costs me out of pocket a bit to stay extra days. I consider it a type of investment into her educational development.
Any advice for freelance couples with their own businesses starting to expand their tribe?
Are you ready for my answer? Get your shit together first.
Anyone can make art. Anyone can be a parent. But doing both together is a different story. We're not living in a one bedroom apartment with our dreams anymore. We got mouths to feed now, diapers to buy, doctors visits to pay for. I tell young artists who come to me all the time asking these questions, and I always tell them, "I'm serious about making good work, because if I don't make good work, my family doesn't eat. It's not about just you and what you want anymore."
If you have systems in place, you're making a steady income, jobs are coming and have been for several years, you have HEALTH INSURANCE (ALL CAPS FOR MAJOR EMPHASIS). If you're looking to plan for kids, I highly recommend getting your finances in order. I'm a huge fan of Dave Ramsey who is a radio host that helps people get out of debt. I knew that before I had kids, I wanted to make sure that I would always have food on the table, and a roof over our heads. I'm a huge believer in the emergency fund, which is 6-12 months of living expenses in case shit hits the fan. Before I proposed to Ash, I made sure I had that in place. Before we decided to expand our family, I made sure I accounted for what it would cost for us to support three mouths to feed and all our bills for 12 months, and got that in place. You can talk about planning to have kids, or you can PLAN to have kids. I knew eventually we were going to have a little family, so I started as early as I could since we were married. Seriously, nothing throws a monkey wrench into a creative business like an emergency you can't afford. Half of the skills you need as a creative person to support a family, is basically just skills you will need as a responsible adult.
If you're serious about your art, you'll be able to provide for your family. And if you're serious about taking care of your family, you'll be serious about your art. The other thing is that in the end, spending time with your family is the most important thing. This is what I struggle with the most, and something I am currently improving on literally right now. Art in principle is selfish. To make good art, it requires you to give yourself completely to it, it needs time to be nurtured, and creativity needs to be fed. It'll require late nights and sleepless nights. Almost like a newborn baby. And in the same sense, a new baby metaphorically is like art. It's someone you helped create, and will need to feed, nurture, and give all your time to. So learn to say no to things that will take away your time from taking care of your art, both in the literal and metaphorical sense.
Let's talk about your work! You recently shot this amazing Egyptian wedding... Tell us a little bit about it!
This wedding took place at a Greek Orthodox Church, with a traditional ceremony. Filled with pastel colors from the murals, the traditional ceremony of the the bride greeting the groom with the the parents and pried in the foyer of the chapel and then the two walking down the aisle together to start the ceremony. They put on the robes and crown, and when instructed hold hands under a cloth for privacy. Instead of a first kiss, the two touch their crowns together at the end of the ceremony.
You captured these beautiful moments on film... What was your favorite part about this venue?
This venue had the most beautiful colors, that was naturally lit with sky lights and windows all around the venue. The white walls paired with the pastels made it a film photographers dream. Usually, when shooting in an indoor venue, there are artificial lighting which puts an unpleasant color onto all the photos, but this venue brought the outdoor light in to showcase the murals.
Photography: Daniel Kim + Ashley Kim