Joyce Kang: Embrace The Grain

I'm so excited to have Joyce Kang on the blog today!!! For those of you who don't know, Joyce is a fantastic family photographer from Texas, and the creator and teacher of the awesome Embrace the Grain, An Intro To Film Photography online workshop through In Beauty and Chaos.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of shooting film, and so naturally, I was excited to see that Joyce was teaching an intro class.  I wanted to find out a bit more about the class, and about Joyce, so I sat her down for a little interview!  So fun!!

And when you are finished reading my interview with Joyce, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to find out about winning a free Holga!!  Woohoo!!!


Sandra: How did you first get into photography?

Joyce: I started shooting film when I was in college when my uncle gave me a classic SLR camera, Nikon FE and three prime lenses.  I didn't know how to properly use it at the time but I knew the images from this camera were stunning.  I didn't know what bokeh was back then, but I knew I liked what I saw.  I used to travel a lot before I got married and had kids.  I would carry a film camera (either a point and shoot or the Nikon FE) everywhere I went.

Sandra: So were you self taught?

Joyce: Yes.  Besides a few online digital photography workshops and Jonathan Canlas' FIND workshop, I am mainly self taught.  This is especially true with film photography.  I learned through trial and error and lots of money and bummed rolls.

Sandra: What is your favorite subject to shoot?  What inspires you?

Joyce: My main inspiration is love and family. Like most mom photographers out there, my main subjects are my children and my family. I lost both my mother and father from cancer in the last 7 years. I remember my parents always wanted to have a family portrait done, but they never got around to it. Losing both of them in 7 years made me realize that our time on earth is short. So this is what started me on the photography journey. Capturing love and turn it into a tangible memory is my mission!

Sandra: Why Film?

Joyce:  Why not film? It is gorgeous. It has vivid “alive” colors. Its grain is smooth like butter. The bokeh is to DIE for! Oh my gosh, I can go on and on…It just feels real and raw to me. Film means simplicity.  It means that I can load film, meter and shoot.  I don't have to constantly worry about blowing highlights or frequently chimping at the back of the camera.  This might be surprising for some of you but with film, I feel I can actually be “present” when I am out with my family.

I always compare different film stock to chocolate truffles (my favorite).  Each is uniquely delicious!!  I love that about film!  I can pre-select the color palette, the tone contrast and the grain characteristics of film before going into a shoot and create gorgeous images as I had envisioned.  Seeing my vision come into fruition when downloading my scans from the lab is pure satisfaction!

Besides that, I get to spend more time with my family instead of spending hours culling and editing on the computer. My family actually gets to see me, not the back of my head!!

Sandra: Tell me about the workshop!

Joyce:  Yes! I am teaching a five week online workshop, Embrace The Grain, through In Beauty and Chaos forum. This workshop is open to everyone who is interested in learning more about film photography. I will cover different types of film in detail and how to expose them correctly. I will not only share my own tried and true methods, but I will walk you through the steps on how you can develop your own unique voice through film.

Sandra: Is it only for beginners?

Joyce:  This class is for anyone who desires to dig deeper into film photography. If you want to have more consistent exposure to your film images, and if you are struggling to translate your vision into film, this is the workshop for you. The last run of my workshop, my students consisted of ones who have never touched a film camera to those who have been shooting film for a few years.


Sandra: What kind of feedback are you getting from your students?

Joyce:  My heart is full hearing all the fabulous feedback my students have given me. You can read some of them here!  And, my students enjoyed the workshop so much that there is a talk about planning an Embrace The Grain Film Retreat by the lake here in Austin Texas in 2015!

Sandra: What is your favorite thing about your workshop?

Joyce: Oh this is hard! There are so many favorites! If I must pick one, I would say “seeing” the light bulbs lit up when any of my students gets it. And then seeing their vision materialize through each frame they shot with film. It warms my heart and makes me teary every.single.time.

Sandra: When does the next one start?

Joyce:  The next workshop is scheduled to start on June 15, 2014. The registration started this Monday, May 26, 2014!!

Sandra: Is there still room?

Joyce:  There are only 30 full participation seats available. and they are filling up fast!!

Sandra: What is the one thing you would like others to know about you and what you do?

Joyce: “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” from C.S. Lewis pretty much sums it up for me. Without failures, I could never be who I am today!


Because Joyce is so awesome, and wants to inspire others to shoot film, she is giving away a Holga to one lucky Little Bellows reader!!!  To enter the drawing, just post an fun, whimsical image to Facebook or Instagram and mark it with #embracethegrain_LB.  The winner will be announced next Monday here on the blog!!

Have a great day!