The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Brian Oh: Brian Oh, 25, photographer and cinematographer, currently freelance.
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
BO: I own Seattle's first summer camp for adults called Camp RAHH. A lot of my extra time goes to that and meeting with my amazing team (Mayuri Reddy, Brian Chinn and Mary Hazen). I created Camp RAHH out of necessity to get out of the city and enjoy a weekend away from technology, alcohol and drugs. I felt a lot of people (including myself) live for the weekends, which usually consists of going out to bars with friends which can turn into a vicious cycle. I wanted to create a community here in Seattle of people who can find other like-minded individuals to adventure with throughout the year as well as make lifelong friendships that didn’t start at a bar but maybe during rock climbing or through art class. Also a lot of people, including myself travel over seas on vacations to try and find ourselves but in reality we have a lot of amazing opportunities for adventure right here in our own backyard. I never thought camp would make as much of an impact in my life as it has. I've learned so much about myself, the friendships I have and unhealthy habits in my day-to-day routine. I highly recommend other creatives venture into an entrepreneurial endeavor. By doing so you learn a lot about business that can directly benefit your photography business.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
BO: I have my pay the bills jobs and then I have my personal projects. I view them separately, which helps me balance the two. The pay the bills jobs allow me to pay rent, buy food, and put clothes on my back. Although these jobs may not be the most exciting jobs you have to be grateful for them and work just as hard no matter how boring they may be. Remember that these jobs allow you to continue working on those personal passion projects. My personal projects are usually self-funded projects from friends and musicians. I look forward to these projects since I can be more creative and experimental and try new things where in commercial work I typically wouldn’t have the same creative freedom.
Having both balanced will help you continue to freelance and choose the work you want to do. Choose to do less of the pay the bills jobs? It will compromise your creative work because you will be stressed on paying your college loans, medical bills, phone bills and so on. Choose to do less creative projects? It will have a straining affect on your thirst of being creative. You'll start to stress more about the work you're producing and at many times it can cause you to second guess why you're freelancing in the first place.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
BO: I feel the most productive in the evenings. In the mornings I get my busy work out of the way. I answer emails, work on social media, do research and plan out my day. If I have a shoot or need to edit a project, I prefer to shoot in the evening so that I have everything prepped in the morning and I am free to focus on my work in the evenings. This way I am less distracted with my emails and I am able to put my full attention on the project in hand. Something new I have been trying is running in the morning. During these runs I tend to zone everything out and at a certain point I focus on what I need to get done that day. The run also gives me a jolt of energy that will last long into the evening which I need since I gave up coffee half a year ago.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
BO: I love shooting and having the camera in my hand but I would like to eventually transition as a producer at an agency, production company or join the corporate world. There is only so much I can do freelancing alone. I look forward to working with a team to create things that weren't possible to make on my own. It may seem like selling out but as long as I find a job that I believe in where I have creative freedom then I am happy.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
BO: I recently released a music video with an artist named Yuna. The video was my first official VEVO video and the first-time I have been featured by Elle Magazine, which was a dream, come true. I enjoy working with friends; although Yuna is a big star she is a friend first. This relationship allows us to be open and honest which allows us to shoot ideas back and forth without feeling restrained.
I also just finished producing the official after movie for Sasquatch! Music festival for the third year. I look forward to working on this project each year because I am able to bring a group of talented photographers, videographers and other creative together. It is inspiring to first hand other people work in their craft.
I don't feel like I am an amazing photographer or videographer by any means but my advantage is the friendships I have with my clients. We are able to inspire each other in projects and by finding the right clients that work well with you is very important to your creative process. I would much rather work with someone who talks to me as a friend and is honest with me instead of dealing with some bureaucratic nonsense.
TCU: What scares you?
BO: Disappointment. I put my heart into my work and the worst feeling is having your client disappointed with your work. Although it scares me it is an important part of my process. I try to put everything I can in planning to prepare for the worst so that there is always a plan B. Also being able to take the criticism is a skill that I am still working on but taking the feedback properly is important to your growth as a creative. An arrow must go backwards to be launched forward. My failures will only make me stronger in the end.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
BO: Success for me is having the freedom to do what I want to do, spending my time the way I'd like and being able to create things that I believe in. A lot of people might say that success to them is to make a lot of money, drive a fancy car or have the latest and greatest things. But because those things will only bring you momentary happiness until the next latest and greatest thing comes out you will forever be chasing something that will ultimately never bring you the happiness you are searching for. But if you are doing what your passionate about everyday then you are successful. I learned that the hard way and my idea of success in the past was never achievable. It wasn’t until I took a step back and appreciated everything I had that I understood the true meaning of success.
Head on over to www.brianphotoh.com to see more of Brian's work and to learn a little more about this multi-talented creative.