ADEX Singapore 2016 Photo Video speaker Y.Zin Kim is one of the most widely-known photographers in Korea, and the very first female sidemount cave diver in Asia. She is introducing high-quality underwater photography techniques and underwater modelling education to her home country. Y.Zin has also worked on posters and commercials for movies, soap operas and magazines. UW360 spoke to her about her career, and the stories behind her famous shots:
What made you want to become an underwater photographer?
I pursued a career as a commercial photographer, and I now take photos for advertising and marketing campaigns. However, I still work on many underwater projects, aiming to deliver a different kind of message to readers. Every project I undertake has a different story and message.
Your first underwater shoot?
My first underwater shoot was the main poster for Korean TV drama Obstetrics. It was a shot of a model who embodied the image of embryo.
The story behind your most memorable underwater shot?
I met a giant turtle in Sipadan, Malaysia, and I believe we shared some similar emotions as we stared at each other for a while. It’s my most lasting and most beloved memory of all [my underwater experiences] so far.
Where is your favourite dive destination?
I often explore the underwater caves of Mexico, sourcing new information and a deeper affection for the underwater world.
The site you’d most like to dive, but never have?
Maybe the Bahamas? I really hope I can stay there for long enough and have the opportunity to work on some great underwater shoots.
The weirdest thing you’ve seen underwater?
I once had a rare encounter when I dived in the Maldives. I met a whale shark and manta swimming around me and at that moment, I can say I felt some energy – like Nature’s force from the depths of the ocean. After I got out of the water, I was sitting bewildered for a moment because the image of the whale shark in cobalt blue was still stuck in my mind.
What camera equipment are you currently using?
I mainly use the Nikon D5 and D810 with Seacam housings. I use GoPro for shooting video.
What is the highlight of your career?
I am currently working with National Geographic Korea, and I am also the Korea Ambassador for GoPro. The highlight of my career was probably when I achieved the sidemount 101m world record with my husband, who is a top TDI (Technical Diving International) trainer.
…And the low point?
Well, I can’t think of any but if I had to pick one, it would be that I have been too busy to have a baby, due to being incredibly busy travelling the world!
Is there any particular shot that you still want to get?
I am working on a project to promote Jeju Island and the Hae-Nyeo (old female freedivers of Jeju Island) in Korea. I hope to shoot a unique portrait of the Hae-Nyeo, one that exemplifies and captures their spirit.