As an art driven entity, we are always aiming to inspire our audience with unique talent. We are excited to introduce Vivian Kim as our next "Inspired By" feature with Slowtide. She is a director and photographer between LA/NYC. Spending much of her time outdoors, Vivian is inspired by the simple, yet intricate beauty of the natural world. Her work reflects her attention to detail, as she captures the in-between moments that look and feel effortless and refreshing. She values collaboration and brings a fresh and motivated energy to each project and set, to produce truly impactful work. A few clients she has worked with in the past are adidas, Casamigos Tequila, HOKA, Monster Children, Nike, Outdoor Voices, Reebok and Vogue Magazine.
When did you start diving into photography and creative direction?
I’ve been fascinated with cameras ever since I was a teenager. I was obsessed with the camera on my phone, webcams, etc. I loved toys and figuring things out. My high school best friend and I started playing around with a film camera from his grandpa. It was so fun to figure out how to use the settings of a camera, and the concept of a camera exposing light onto film to create a color image is still mind-blowing to me. All that to say, I was obsessed with taking pictures of everything around me. Directing came along with this. I told a boyfriend at the time that I really wanted to shoot on a movie film camera, and he gifted me a Super 8mm camera. With this, I made little movies for myself of road trips, surf days, etc.
What or who inspired you to start creating?
For me, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly inspired me to start creating. I think that we are all creative in some way or form, and for those of us who exercise that muscle more frequently, it feels as if I have no choice but to create. Art is an expression of self, and I think we are all looking for ways to express ourselves in a way that feels cathartic and fulfilling. I’ve always loved capturing moments on a camera, but I also love to write, play music, etc. as a way to connect with my deeper self.
What or who are you currently inspired by?
Inspiration is everywhere for me. Here’s a very random list of things I’ve really enjoyed lately:
- Just Piano (album) by FKJ
- Organic/industrial architecture and design
- Place Beyond the Pines (film with great cinematography and colors)
- Tyrone Lebon + Frank Lebon (amazing directors/photographers)
- Lotta Volkova (creative director) at Miu Miu
- FRUiTS (Japanese street style magazine)
- Little Simz (love her music)
Any advice for aspiring photographers or creative directors?
Know what you’re inspired by, and know what you like. Some artists love creating imaginative, extravagant worlds. Others take a more realistic approach, and capture the world exactly as is. Some have a preference towards shooting in studio, and others would rather be outside or on location. You don’t have to do it all, and it’s unsustainable to try to be everything. Now more than ever, we are exposed to the creative works of others, and I often feel a pressure to be able to story-tell in all these different ways. A quote I love is: "No one is you, and that is your power.” In being yourself, you have a privilege. We all have a unique point of view, and I think that learning about yourself to know what you like will allow you to create your best work.
When you're not creating, what are you up to?
I love to be outdoors! Surfing, going for walks, spending time in nature, hanging with friends, and running around the city are all things I find myself doing often!
What is your dream trip?
My dream trip would be on an island with lots of trees and sun, where I could surf perfect fun sized mid-length waves, and ride dirt bikes, then come back to shower and make yummy food. Honestly, I can do that in a lot of places, so I’m not picky… For me it’s more about the people I’m with! :)
Photo for Adidas Originals x World Cup Soccer campaign. I really loved the styling for this shoot, and I got to combine one of my favorite brands with one of my favorite sports.
I love making friends through photography. Katriel is one of my favorite models, and she has a really cool car. We just drove around Honolulu looking for a place to shoot, and ended up at the gas station!
This photo is from one of my first projects with Adidas Originals, for a book that the Global Creative Director was making for the brand. This was a particularly cool project because it gave me so much creative freedom and was just very fun.
Photo from my book ISLAND TIME. This photo was taken on my favorite beach on Kaua’i, and it just feels timeless. I love the foreground of the car window, and the timing of the shot was perfect as I was in a moving car.
This represents a lot of what my personal work looks like. I love photographing my friends, who are all very different and unique. I love the interesting people I’ve gotten to meet throughout my life, just by staying open and curious. I love that I can hang with friends who are in the fashion industry, and then go meet up with my skater friends, then go fishing with some uncles, etc. Life is so fun when we welcome all types of people into our lives.
This photo to me feels like a more refined version of what I grew up shooting. I would just photograph friends, strangers, lots of beautiful places, and just special moments in time. It’s very natural, very real, and I love that we can capture and hold onto real life moments. Looking at this picture, I can remember who I was at the beach with, what I was feeling, and everything I didn’t realize would follow after.
I love spontaneity, and this is reflected in a lot of my personal work. I almost always have some sort of point and shoot on me, and I love capturing whatever I feel inspired by in the moment.
A portrait I took of Bodhi, on Kaua’i, as well. I remember I was bummed it was raining that morning, but I love the moodiness in the skies. This has turned out to be one of my favorite images.
I love this photo because it just encapsulates everything I love about youth — being carefree, having salty skin and hair, natural beauty, and spending all our time in the sun!