Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Yuen.
Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My family survived a horrible genocide while dodging landmines and cruel soldiers, suffering from heat, exhaustion, thirst, extreme hunger, and unspeakable acts of cruelty by strangers — all the while my mother was pregnant with her second son. The strong will to survive for the love of their children compelled them to never give up, be humble and thankful for anything good that came along the way, be kind to others, give their best in everything they do, and always try to see the positives in every situation. Their story of love, strength, and pain had been a guiding light in the way my siblings and I have grown up.
I initially became a photographer because of my passion for the great outdoors. The art form was a way for me to find beauty in the World, and capture it the way I felt at the moment. My parents had always enjoyed seeing the mountains, lakes, grass, clouds, and moments of love, joy, family, and friendship that my images attempted to capture. Seeing their smiles made me happy because for a brief moment in time, I imagined that they could escape the pain they had gone through in their younger years. Over time, my life motto evolved into finding that Life Is Good and to always Be Inspired. Happiness and peace — no matter how bad things get — can often be found with a simple adjustment to one’s attitude towards what is around. Where there is despair, there also is hope.
Today, I have been organizing many events and get-togethers to introduce friends, family, and strangers to the outdoors hoping that they, too, would find beauty (and themselves) in the vast ocean of distractions that surround us. My photography has expanded into weddings, birthdays, and family sessions — places one could truly find love, joy, sadness, anxiety, inspiration, hope, and happiness — all emotions I love photographing.
For the opportunity to witness and capture beauty, optimism, positivity, tenderness, laughter, perseverance, and the wonders of life — and every chance to do so — I have been very much thankful and blessed.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Photography was not an area I thought I would find myself practicing as I was growing up. The family struggled financially throughout much of my childhood, and my siblings and I were raised to be thankful for whatever we had. Making photos with a camera was perhaps rather seen as a luxury that we could not afford. I grew up watching other children having new toys, but somehow, I was happy with what I had.
I had always been inclined towards creativity with dreams of becoming an animator or creating Worlds as a computer game programmer. My wild imagination was perhaps fueled by the fact that I did not have many material things, but one day, my parents took a chance and bought a computer to encourage me to learn how they worked. “Break it, fix it, upgrade it,” they said, knowing that one could learn a lot by making mistakes, even if it would cost more money to repair.
The mindset that “making mistakes is okay” is important in photography. One cannot get better by being afraid and not even trying. Every assignment that comes along results in me becoming anxious and nervous, and the perfectionist in me often storms me from falling asleep the day before a photo shoot. But that is okay. Get out there, do your best, and whatever mistakes you may make, deal with them as best as you can. Whether through continued practice or education, seeking critique that can nerve-wreckingly hurt, or just taking a break… taking a step forward is another step towards becoming better.
yuen Studios – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
yuen Studios is a photography company that exists primarily through word-of-mouth. We seek joy, hope, laughter, love, and other emotions with our cameras so we can help our clients remember through carefully-crafted video slideshows and images the moments we were privileged to have been part of.
What sets us apart is that photography is not a business for us. Rather, we enjoy making photos as a passion, a work of art, and the opportunity to witness moments we often taken for granted. We truly love being part of our clients’ lives, and for the trust they put in us, we are truly thankful. We treat our clients like family and aim to be part of theirs.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Becoming a dad. I know that this has nothing to do with my photography career, but it is important.
Being a father has been helping me see what my parents felt when they gave birth to my siblings and I. The fears, hope, love, and perseverance they experienced for their children to have a better life have been growing within me, and I truly hope to be able to raise my son (and future children) to be as strong, loving, and caring as my parents and my wife’s. If I can show my children through my photography that beauty, peace, and hope can be found wherever they look — that strength comes from within — that is all I need. That would be one of the proudest moments a parent could ever have.
- Website: http://www.yuenStudios.com
Michael Yuen, yuenStudios.com