Kim Kyoungjin – Distilling Light, Form and Movement

by Kim Kyoungjin

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Kim Kyoungjin

Kyoungjin is currently the official photographer of Universal Ballet, the premiere ballet company based in Korea. With her own extensive dance background, Kyoungjin’s creative interpretation of ballet photography has won her many accolades.

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1. Please describe your photography style and why you've chosen this as your specialty. 

I specialize in ballet photography as ballet is a beautiful and sophisticated form of creative expression. I am in tune with ballet’s flow and cadence, so it is easier for me to capture the energy and emotion of the dancers.  I am also inspired by the rich tapestry of Seoul and frequently incorporate royal palaces, cityscapes, and even busy street scenes into my photography.

Alpha 7R III | FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM | 35 mm | 1/320 sec | F2.8 | ISO 200

Photo by Kyoungjin Kim ⓒ 2021 UNIVERSAL BALLET All rights reserved

2. Tell us more about your photographic journey. What got you started?It all started with my love for ballet as a child, and that drove my interest in capturing it via photography. I became adept at this genre and won an award in a dance photography contest. Soon after, I joined Universal Ballet and started my profession as the in-house photographer. Even though I am not on stage, I was happy just to be among so many talented dancers and capturing their artistry.

3. The world has been enriched by the diversity of photographers today. What are the key challenges you face at work, and how do you overcome them? Artists are constantly evolving, and I am no exception. Whenever I work on a new project, I try out new ideas and techniques. It can be stressful because of the uncertainty but I embrace the challenge. My aim as a photographer is to improve each day.

Alpha 7R III | FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS | 135 mm | 1/400 sec | F5 | ISO 200

Photo by Kyoungjin Kim ⓒ 2021 UNIVERSAL BALLET All rights reserved

4. Tell us about your favourite photo or photos series. Why do you like it?  

I like to show what it is really like behind the glamour and prestige of the stage. There are moments of joy and anxiety that the audience are not aware of. These scenes are not always perfect, but they show the dedication of the dancers.  I try my best to capture it with empathy and authenticity.

Alpha 9 II | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM | 24 mm | 1/200 sec | F3.2 | ISO 10000

Photo by Kyoungjin Kim ⓒ 2021 UNIVERSAL BALLET All rights reserved

5. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?  

My advice is to know one’s mission. Focus on establishing your identity as an artist. Once you have that, set out creative objectives and lead your life accordingly. With this in place, your creativity will naturally flow. 

6. What's in your camera bag? 

I always have the Alpha 9 IIFE 70-200mm F2.8 GM, and FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lenses in my camera bag. 

Movements in ballet can happen very quickly and I rely on the Alpha 9 II’s fast and accurate AF function and noise-free high ISO images. With Sony's Real-time Eye AF tracking function, I am assured of tack sharp images as the camera intelligently locks focus onto the dancer’s expressive eyes.  

The FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM, and FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lenses are perfect for dance photography. I particularly love the way the G Master lenses handle the colour of the stage lights and offer excellent resolution across the frame. I shoot wide open frequently and the creamy bokeh helps to make the dancers stand out. 

Alpha 7R III | FE 16-35mm F2.8 | 35 mm | 1/320 sec | F2.8 | ISO 160

Photo by Kyoungjin Kim ⓒ 2021 UNIVERSAL BALLET All rights reserved

7.  How has the Sony Alpha system helped you to achieve your vision?  

My vision is to capture the pinnacle of a dancer’s form. That moment of perfection may happen for just a fraction of a second. To freeze these fleeting moments, the Alpha 9 II’s 20 frames-per-second capture is indispensable. The artificial intelligence in the AF tracks the movement of the dancers flawlessly, keeping them in focus as they traverse the stage. Achieving my creative vision is now well within my control. 

 Alpha 7R III | FE 24-70mm F2.8 | 51 mm | 1/320 sec | F3.2 | ISO 400

Photo by Kyoungjin Kim ⓒ 2021 UNIVERSAL BALLET All rights reserved

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