What We Learned This Week: Yunghi Kim Captures a Turning Point for Asian Americans

By David Schonauer   Friday April 2, 2021

Yunghi Kim has seen her share of conflict.

Kim, a veteran photojournalist, has covered wars and crises around the world for more than three decades, from Rwanda to Kosovo to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the past decade, she’s focused on protest movements in the U.S., including Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. But for Kim, who immigrated from Korea to New York at the age of 10, recent weeks have brought a new story to cover — one, she told Politico, that strikes closer to home.

“I have never seen the Asian American community galvanized like this,” she said.

In the wake of the shootings in Atlanta that took the live of six people of Asian descent, Kim left her home in Brooklyn to take pictures of a vigil at Union Square for the victims. “I treated it as going to a protest to cover like any other,” Kim told Politico, “but when I got there, it hit me as a Korean American that there was a shift in how the Asian American community was reacting to this.”

She later joined demonstrators at a number of rallies, shooting for several hours a day. ”It was not just a protest against what happened in Atlanta,” she told Politico. “I saw it as a wider discussion about where Asians fit in in America.”

Anti-Asian sentiment and violence has been on the rise nationwide for the past year, fueled by racist language and rhetoric promoted by Donald Trump and others that falsely blames Asian people for the coronavirus pandemic, noted Politico. New York, in particular, has seen a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.

For years, Kim said, the Asian American community has been difficult to photograph. “Usually people would say ‘no, no.’ Older generations tried to assimilate into communities and didn’t want to bring attention to themselves,” she noted. But after Atlanta, attitudes, noted Kim, were different.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:

1. He Spent 12 Years Making a Photo of the Milky Way

Finnish astrophotographer J-P Metsavainio has released an astonishing 1.7-gigapixel mosaic of the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, and, noted Science Alert, it took him only a dozen years to complete it. “The reason for a long time period is naturally the size of the mosaic and the fact that the image is very deep. Another reason is that I have shot most of the mosaic frames as individual compositions and publish them as independent artworks,” said Metsavainio.

2. A Trip to Nick Meyer's Hometown

New England-based photographer Nick Meyer’s new book The Local is about his hometown — but, noted BuzzFeed, it’s also a bit about yours. “His work captures subjects that are familiar to many: issues with addiction, housing insecurity, an overall sense of small-town decline. It also opens up questions about what it means to love a place and what we owe each other,” wrote BF photo editor Kate Bubacz. “[T]here are these two sides to this place. From one to the next, the socioeconomic makeup of each town is almost completely different,” said Meyer.

3. In Pursuit of the Black Panther

“Just what did I think I was doing? Did I really expect to get a photograph of a single, special leopard that the guides at Laikipia Wilderness Camp had only caught glimpses of on a handful of occasions over the past few years?” That question is asked, and answered, by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in his fascinating new book The Black Leopard: My Quest to Photograph One of Africa’s Most Elusive Big Cats, which was excerpted at Atlas Obscura. The book describes how Burrard-Lucas fulfilled his dream.

4. Michal Chelbin's Fascination with Uniforms and Identity

Throughout her career, photographer Michal Chelbin has sought to capture the emotional ambiguities and fledgling contradictions that are so distinctive to young people, noted AnOther. Her new book, How to Dance the Waltz, takes us into the matador schools of Seville, the military academies of Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region and the school grounds of Kiev on the eve of prom. “Uniforms are symbolic of the adult world,” said Chelbin. “I’m fascinated by the tension between this outer world and the inner lives of children.”

5. Rare Images by Henry Fox Talbot To Be Sold

Almost 200 images by one of history's first photographers, William Henry Fox Talbot (above and at top) are going under the hammer in New York next month, offering collectors a rare glimpse at early Victorian Britain, noted CNN. According to Sotheby's auction house, which is handling the sale, the collection is "arguably the most important lot of 19th century photographs to ever come to market.” The images depict indoor and outdoor scenes, spanning architecture, botany and daily life in the 1840s. Talbot also produced various portraits of family and friends.


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