Based in New York City but originally from Brisbane, Sophie Hur’s catalogue amounts to a beautiful range of images that document her journey from acting to photography.
We spoke to Sophie about her journey so far, her love for film photography, and her opinion on social media and smartphones.
“I mainly shoot film because I am in love with the process and a lot of it stems from my love for the imagery and history of the late 60s and 70s New York music, art and culture.”
HAPPY: You’ve moved from Brisbane to New York. How would you describe the difference in the creative industry?
SOPHIE: I find a lot more inspiration and desire to pursue a career in the creative industry in New York because I’ve met so many more people who are in the creative industry and they willingly help guide me and inspire me. Because there are so many more people pursuing creative careers, I’ve had the opportunity to work with like-minded artists who [also] want to keep practicing their crafts, therefore it’s been an authentic way to network.
HAPPY: Do you think it’s harder for people to make it in big cities, like NY or London?
SOPHIE: Honestly, I think it completely depends on the strengths and skills of the individual trying to make it. Some artists thrive in big cities because perhaps it’s the competition that drives them. In the same way, another may thrive in a small city because they have the capability of building strong relationships with an intimate group of important local creative people.
HAPPY: Did you always want to pursue photography as a career?
SOPHIE: Pursuing photography seriously never even crossed my mind until the end of 2016 when I was close to finishing acting school. Acting had always been my biggest dream ever since I can remember, but somewhere along the line I shifted from loving being in front of the camera to being behind.
HAPPY: Whose work influenced you the most?
SOPHIE: When I first started photography, Petra Collins was my biggest inspiration.
HAPPY: What’s it like to be a photographer in an age where everybody owns a smartphone?
SOPHIE: Smartphone culture can make me feel overwhelmed sometimes when I feel like my hard work and images are getting lost in the void of Instagram, but honestly, smartphones and Instagram are creating more jobs and careers for photographers my age. Photographers are not just fine art photographers now, there are artists specialising in social media or promotion, touring with bands, creating international campaigns with real people and this is because of the use of smartphones and social media.
At the end of the day, there are so many young film photographers because we are in love with the process of it more than instant gratification, and it’s important to me that when I am shooting, that’s what I’m thinking about – not how it will look on my smartphone.
HAPPY: What’s your opinion on showcasing your work on social media and how important is it?
SOPHIE: I guess my last answer ties in with this question. I don’t necessarily agree with using Instagram as a portfolio to showcase specific work because a lot of the time, it isn’t the right medium to do it justice (and then I feel like it gets lost in the void). However, that being said, it’s 2019 and I don’t want to disregard the fact that it is the culture we live in and if it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue what I am pursuing and met the creative individuals that I have met today.
HAPPY: Why do you mainly shoot film?
SOPHIE: I mainly shoot film because I am in love with the process and a lot of it stems from my love for the imagery and history of late ‘60s and ‘70s New York music, art and culture. My style is very tangible, and film is the medium that I feel most at ease and trusting in. I am so bad with digital cameras!
HAPPY: You also take 35mm photos at gigs and concerts. How many do you usually take and how do you know they will turn out right, in terms of lighting and movement?
SOPHIE: I bought a DSLR for the main purpose of shooting live gigs because on the road, it’s important to pump out fast content, but I do like to shoot a few rolls of 35mm because it is where my passion lies the most. I can often tell if the image will come out depending on the lighting situation on stage and I love anticipating the performer’s next move to capture the moment. I’m still learning the best way to shoot film at live concerts.
HAPPY: Do you think your acting experience has helped you in the industry?
SOPHIE: I love the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ attitude, when I first started photography, I just had to pretend I knew what I was doing! I guess I still do this and maybe I’m better at faking it because of my acting training (laughs). In all honestly though I really appreciate my acting training because it’s given me stronger skills in relationship building and a higher awareness of my relationship with the subject. It’s also inspired me to pursue creating films next! I really want to make movies and integrate my love for acting and photography!
HAPPY: Among your own work, what’s your favourite photo?
SOPHIE: This photo of my ex-boyfriend who actually introduced me to photography. He moved back to London and cut me out of his life completely without a warning and we didn’t communicate for almost two years. He messaged me out of the blue one day with, “Guess who’s moved back to NY” and I was completely shocked. I met up with him for a drink and knew I had to take my camera.
I took this photo when I was very drunk and he told me it was too dark and that the photo wouldn’t come out, but I insisted I knew my camera and that it would. We spent the night together and a few days after that I blocked him and haven’t spoken to him since.