Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Jang.
Stephen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
For as long as I can remember, music brought more color to my life than the coloring books I scribbled in with crayons. With the amount of hours that I stayed home to tinker around with my guitar, it was no surprise that I learned and picked up music faster than my peers. When I saw this art form incorporated into cinematic arts through films and documentaries, I knew that my heart was pulling me towards this field.
However, all the blood, sweat, and tears that I dedicated to music certainly did not go to waste. The great knowledge and skills that I acquired from my music teachers as well as my gift in music has allowed me to create visual arts in a completely different level and perspective. Music sets the tone and enhances emotive perception in movies; without a good audiological foundation, making a breathtaking and captivating film is not easy. I am constantly motivated to utilize my abilities and gifts to the maximum to produce the best kind of content that I possibly can. I still remember the feeling of seeing a photo taken on a professional DSLR camera for the first time— a wave of speechlessness and emotion overtook my body. I never thought life could look more beautiful than it already did, and the camera’s ability to do this boggled my mind. I craved to learn more about the way the low aperture made a gorgeous buttery bokeh the subject of the piece.
During my freshman year, I had a close friend who was well immersed into photography. One day, he took out his massive, captivating Canon DSLR, and began to take portraits of me. After about five minutes, we ended our mini photoshoot session, and like any other teenage boy, forgot about this and went on with our day. I didn’t give much thought to the pictures he had taken of me until a week or so later when he approached me with my printed photos in hand. The moment I laid eyes on the first few pictures, I was genuinely amazed— not at how I looked in the photos, but the different photography techniques my friend had executed. The perfect mixture of bewilderment and shock was what instantly captivated me into the world of photography. That day when I got home, I looked for my old family camera and began to do research on it. I learned as much as I could about shutter speed, iso, frame rate, aperture, white-balance, etc., and watched as many YouTube videos as I possibly could. My love for this started just with photography, but as I learned how this cooperated with movement and music, videography began to amaze me more and more. Videography took over my world and changed the way I perceived the things around me.
I never gave much thought about why I loved capturing shots of subjects so much, whether it be through photography or videography— I just did it because it made me the happiest. As time went on and I gained more experience with the cinematic arts, I realized that the reason I want to create artwork for others is that I want others to also experience the great astonishment and wonder that I felt when I first laid eyes on that portrait. The mere idea that I can capture a moment in time and create a medium in which it would be remembered forever still baffles me to this day, and I strive to do this to the best of my ability. Being able to hold something in your hand, whether it be an actual print of a picture or a video through your phone, creates a feeling of security, ownership, and an indescribable bond that one feels with a piece of art.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. Trying to initially immerse yourself into the industry is no easy task. Yeah, sure, shooting for friends and family here and there are cool, but I was not nearly satisfied with that. I wanted to make this my definite career and make a name for myself. I’m not saying that I am satisfied with where I am now because I still have a long way to go, and think I am only 5% there. However, thinking back to where I was and where I am now still boggles my mind to this day. Definitely one of the hardest struggles while being in this industry at a young age is being stereotyped into a box and other people/clients thinking of less of me. I still remember when I first started, I was denied a job because I wasn’t old enough and didn’t have enough experience. When told this, I felt confused and angry. Why do people think that just because you are young, you cannot do the job. I want to defy the stereotypes that the older audience has against younger creatives like me. They think that just because we are younger and not as experienced, we can’t do a good job in this field. However, I want to defy those odds and prove those people wrong. In fact, I think that younger creatives like me are the next generation of powerful storytelling and visual arts. I think that we have fresher ideas and a stronger fire and passion to create. However, all these roadblocks throughout my journey is what helped me progress and get to where I am today. The solution is simple: become so good that your talents/skills are undeniable.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about SJ PRODS – what should we know?
I am a photographer/cinematographer based in the LA/OC area. I started out with photography around four years ago but quickly gained an interest for videography. I like to think of myself as a production company. I help clients from the start to finish. I believe that being on the same page as a client is extremely important. My goal when working with clients is to make their visions a reality. By listening and understanding, I am able to get a clear picture in my head as to what he/she wants, and am able to mix that with my own ideas and insight to create a beautiful work of art. As a freelance company by myself, I am most proud of the work ethic and passion that I have when working with clients. I believe that passion is important. Without the passion for the work, the finished result is meaningless. Whether you want to create a passion project, commercial for a brand, a simple photoshoot, short film, documentary, etc., I am able to work with whatever kind of ideas that you may have.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I think a lot of the credit goes to my parents. My parents have been my #1 supporter since day 1. Growing up as a Korean American, I always believed that I had certain standards and expectations to live up to. However, the fact that my parents were so supportive of me that I wanted to pursue such a risky and hard career path meant a lot to me. If it were not for their unconditional support emotionally and also financially, I do not think I would be where I am today. To add, another person that helped me a lot throughout my journey was a mentor and older brother that I have. His name is Steve Park and is also a cinematographer and has been in the industry for a lot longer time than me. Having his guidance and also having him as my role model also as a fellow Korean American was very crucial to me. He would always help me and give advice to me when needed, and I feel like especially when trying to succeed in such a hard field, having someone you trust that you can rely on and get feedback from is essential. Lastly, I want to thank the two people that started it all for me; Fabian Lee and Dylan Wong. Although they aren’t 100% in the game anymore, they are the ones that nurtured me from day 1. Dylan was the one that helped me view the world through the lens of a camera and started the entire interest for me, and Fabian was the one that taught me the basics and helped me with everything.
- 1-3 minute videography work (starting price at $250-$700 depending on various needs)
- 4-10 minute videography work (starting price at $500-1200 depending on various needs)
- 10 min-above videography work (starting price at $600-$2000 depending on various needs)
- Wedding cinematography (starting price at $1000-$2500)
- Documentary style videos (starting price at $700-$1500 depending on needs )
- Photoshoots (brand/company, portraits, family portraits, prom/graduation, real estate, etc // starting price at $100-$250)
- Phone: 5629914141
- Email: email@example.com
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