Sophie Hur: Photographing Character

Sophie Hur is a New York-based photographer and director from Brisbane, Australia. Inspired by her background in acting, Sophie’s work explores physicality, character, and human personality.

Riley Gunderson
Production / Direction

Hello! Can you start by introducing yourself and the work that you do?

My name is Sophie, I am a photographer and director. I am from Brisbane, Australia and am based in New York.

How would you describe your photography?

I shoot all film, except for the occasional digital when I have to. I shoot film because I like the messiness of it and how in-the-moment it is. When I shoot digital, I tend to overshoot but with film, you have limited shots on a roll which I like.

I do a lot of mixed media and collage as well. Post-production is where my work comes alive. I like to live in that tangible environment.

How long have you been photographing?

I started playing around with photography as a hobby in 2017. I graduated from acting school then and decided I wanted to take photography more seriously. At the start of last year, when quarantine started, I was in a position where I had to find a job so I started accidentally freelancing. It worked out for me and I have been doing that since.

How do you think having a background in acting influences your photography?

I think it influences how I interact with the subject. Having that experience as the one being shot gives me insight into how to create an environment that is comfortable for the talent, and with that comes authenticity. I also think my acting background has influenced how I want to work with moving images and directing films.

Can you talk more about directing and how that has been for you?

I have directed a couple of lo-fi music videos which has been really fun. It’s doing a lot myself in terms of filming, conceptualizing, and everything like that.

I’ve recently worked on my first big project. I had the opportunity to hire my friend as the Director of Photography and I got the chance to work as a real Director. That project made me realize that film is definitely the world I want to be in. Hopefully, when the project comes out it will open doors for me and I can direct more.

Do you think you’ll continue with photography or want to move solely into directing?

I want to do everything. I switch every day between the many things I want to do. This year I am reminding myself that I can do anything I want to do. I don’t want to limit myself. I want people to work with me because of my ideas and creative vision, not because of my skillset narrowed down to one occupation.

Was the transition from photography to directing seamless or was there a big learning curve?

I am still learning. I was humbled to even be brought onto the last project I worked on.

At the moment it seems like a natural transition from photography to video. I also do so much collage and I think the point of collaging is to have that tangible experience. I like making things very alive and physical and the next step would be moving those images.

Can you talk more about your post-production process and collage in your work?

I think when I am shooting something or even before, I am always thinking ahead on what the post will look like. I’ll have a vision in my head so on the day of the photoshoot I am working with that in mind. It is really a full circle, there is no rule or one way that I do it. My post-production is having fun, trusting my gut, and not overthinking.

I noticed you mainly shoot images of people, what do you think influenced that to be your main subject?

People are just so interesting. The reason I love New York, in particular, is because of the type of people that I get to meet and experience in the day-to-day. People the most interesting to me, and the most dynamic. I like playing with character and how their personality influences how I edit or collage a photo.

How do you think moving to New York from Australia affects your work?

I moved to New York to study acting which was a dream come true. Since I was nine years old I knew I wanted to be an actor. It’s weird to me that I fell in love with photography after being introduced to it.

I think coming from Australia to New York has really pushed me because I quite literally wouldn’t be able to be here if I didn’t have something to show for my photography. That is how I got a Visa to stay and work here.

I’m lucky to have everything here but I feel so far away from home sometimes. In a work sense, I am so grateful but in a personal experience, it is very strange.

What are your biggest sources of inspiration?

Music is my biggest influence. I listen to music every single day, I can’t collage or edit without listening to music. I am also inspired by friends, New York, the people that I get to meet, crazy nights and fun times, interesting people doing creative things, and other artists that I really look up to.

Does that love of music show up in the projects you want to work on?

I love working with musicians. I think I love working with musicians more than anything else. I love fashion but I love music. I definitely want to do more directing of music videos.

What projects are you working on now or looking forward to in the future?

I am excited for the film I spoke about to be released. Before I got this gig, I was upstate New York dedicating a week to writing. I’ve been writing a feature film which is something I would really like to direct in the future. I’m excited to get back into that.

I would like to focus more on film, still working on photos but really honing in on film. I would like to be on set more, speak to other directors, and really learn as much as I can.

Do you have a favorite part of working creatively?

I just have so many ideas. My brain is just filled with ideas that I want to come to life. I’ll be sad if they don’t come to life.

I am constantly being inspired by things that surround me. Even when I feel a lack of inspiration, I stay creative by the millions of ideas that would happen if I had an endless budget and resources. To get that though you have to keep working hard which keeps me going.

You can follow Sophie Hur on Instagram at @sophiehur.

Words by Riley Gunderson

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