Made You Look, In Conversation with Photographer Angella Choe
Photography by Angella Choe
Interview: Isis Nicole
Photography: Angella Choe
Model: Jawni Vidal
Thinking back on her childhood at 10 a.m. in California, Angella Choe gives thanks to her family first and foremost. By way of Los Angeles, the photographer and creative consultant says that it was her parents who encouraged Choe to express herself freely. “They were musicians and artists in their own craft, so experimenting with my own talents and imagination was highly encouraged as a child,” writes Choe through email.
She started off with an interest in interior design and styling, repurposing a lot of clothes that she took from her family’s closet. Today, she’s recognized as a force of many trades behind LA’s creative scene having styled for the Joyrich x Playboy collection to shooting for fashion house, No Sesso.
Isis Nicole: How has living in Los Angeles changed your life?
Angella Choe: Living in Los Angeles has been great. There are a lot of subcultures and interesting people here contrary to the stereotypes. Growing up, I would dream of moving to major fashion cities like Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo, but now I really love being here because Los Angeles is the next fashion city where forward-thinking people reside. There is a really cool fashion community here now.
IN: What’s a busy day in your life like?
AC: A normal day for me is shooting and editing mostly. A busy day would be when I’m backed up on a lot of editing and deadlines are coming up, running errands, meeting with clients, et cetera.
IN: I found this series to be absolutely stunning one late night on Instagram. Thank you so much again for sharing this with us. What’s the story behind this shoot?
AC: This shoot was shot in Los Angeles with one of my favorite models and friend, Jawni Vidal. I was following her for a while on Instagram and we finally met a couple years ago for a shoot. She is someone who has a similar artistic vision and motivation as me, and that’s why I love working with her. She brings so much to the shoot in terms of artistic direction and it’s really a collaboration between two artists. It’s been so cool watching her grow. We shoot every once in a while when she comes to town, and for this one, I literally whipped out pieces from my closet the night before and the shoot was done in one hour the next morning. You can prepare and plan all you want prior to the shoot, but the real chemistry and artistry happens on set between you and the model.
IN: In your experience as a photographer, what does it take to bring an image to life?
AC: For me, bringing an image to life means evoking an emotion. If the image makes the viewer feel or think something, then I have done my job. Everyone has a unique story and I want to bring that to life through the image in an unconventionally beautiful way. I usually cast interesting looking models, and want to empower them through images - no matter their gender, age, color or where they’re from.
IN: When you think of the word ‘increase’ what comes to mind?
AC: I imagine the word ‘growth’ when I think of the word ‘increase.’ It’s so important to not remain complacent in life. There is never an end to learning and absorbing knowledge during your time on Earth. I always want to expand my mind. I want to increase other people’s perception of beauty through my images as well.
IN: What keeps you motivated and refreshed?
AC: I’m on the Internet on my phone and laptop a lot to be inspired by images and information. But an overload of data is very overwhelming at times. To keep refreshed from that, I need to step away and spend time with nature, my family, friends, human contact, and alone time, as weird as that sounds. Having a positive mind keeps me motivated. I have a strong belief that anything is possible and you have to do everything you possibly can to achieve that. I hate people who make excuses for not doing something. So surrounding myself with other positive and motivated people keeps me refreshed, too, when I’m feeling uninspired.
IN: What would make you all happiest when everything is said and done?
AC: I would be happiest if my work inspired or touched others. The success, health and happiness of my family. And also dachshund Instagram accounts. [laughs.]
IN: Did you imagine that you’d be where you are today?
AC: I actually imagined I would be a CEO somewhere in an office someday because that is what society tells you to work towards. But I’m so happy that I am able to freelance and be an artist in my own right. I still have so much more growth and learning to experience, but I am happy where my path is going at this moment.
Originally published in IN #7, Fall 2018