A Style All Hur Own: Photographer Sophie Hur
Sophie Hur is a New York City-based photographer and director whose work has captured our attention with its dynamic use of color and motion. Cell Vision co-founder Mattie Safer spoke to Hur earlier this summer to find out more about her process and inspirations.
All images by Sophie Hur except where noted. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
I first encountered Sophie Hur’s work while scrolling through Instagram—I would see a captivating image posted in a friend’s feed or stories, look at the credits, and time after time, there she was. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Hur moved to NY in 2015 to study acting, but after graduation found herself pulled toward what she calls “an even more unstable career” in photography and directing. Having worked with brands and musicians such as Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, A$AP Rocky, and Blu De Tiger, her work is instantly recognizable, full of blur, motion, odd beauty, and washes of color. I emailed with Hur earlier this summer to ask her about her work and what it’s like being a young artist making her way in the big city.
CELL VISION: Hi Sophie! You’re originally from Brisbane, Australia, how long have you been based in Brooklyn? What made you relocate? Do you still like it, or do you feel like another change is on the horizon?
SOPHIE HUR: Hi! I have been living in New York for 7 years in September… So crazy
I moved to study acting, which is what I always wanted to do ever since I can remember.
"It used to be REALLY hard for me to stick to my guns and believe that I can make art for a living, but then I started surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who are just really going for it and I remained inspired and hungry."
CELL VISION: You have amusingly described shifting to photography and directing as an even less stable career choice. What’s it like making it out there as a young artist?
SOPHIE HUR: For me, New York is the perfect place for me to do what I want to do (i.e. what I am currently doing) and to also dream big and know that those dreams really can be made possible. It used to be REALLY hard for me to stick to my guns and believe that I can make art for a living, but then I started surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who are just really going for it and I remained inspired and hungry. I’m still nowhere near where I want to be or making the work that I dream of making, but for me, it’s important that I keep track of goals and reflect on how I felt a year ago, or two years ago because it reminds me that I am still growing and I can do it.
CELL VISION: What is a typical day like for you?
SOPHIE HUR: Ok, if I am being COMPLETELY honest it would be something like this (When I am not on set shooting)—let’s say it’s a Monday:
7:30 am - Wake up. Lately, I’ve been so tired from the weekend so it’s pretty hard for me.
9:00 am - Work out with my awesome trainer. It's been really important for me to keep up with this because I find so much joy in progressing in working out, even if it's a couple of times a week, it allows me to put my phone away and really focus on what's right in front of me.
10:00 am - Get my new fave smoothie down the street from my workout spot.
12:00 pm - By noon I am home and showered and I get to my emails and edit whatever projects I am working on for the rest of the day, take calls, make treatments, compile teams for upcoming projects, and watch some BBQ reels, lol.
05:00 pm - Around this time, I am getting angsty and either quite literally have a dance in my room with my headphones on or practice guitar!
06:00 pm - Probably convincing someone to go get a gin & tonic and pasta with me somewhere, or heading to a show!
On other days, it’s important for me to find time to work on my own personal images, projects, and ideas and remain inspired. I am often writing or cutting shit up.
CELL VISION: What kind of camera and film do you shoot on?
SOPHIE HUR: RZ67 + Contax G2 with Portra 400 or 800.
"I am just allowing myself the freedom to fuck up and experiment."
CELL VISION: One of our favorite things about your work is your bold use of single colors that seems to wash over the photo. How do you achieve that?
SOPHIE HUR: I’ve been experimenting in the darkroom!
CELL VISION: Can you tell us more about your darkroom process?
SOPHIE HUR: I’m still very much learning, which I have been loving. I am just allowing myself the freedom to fuck up and experiment. I don’t have much of a “process” right now.
CELL VISION: Did you build your own darkroom, or do you use a studio?
SOPHIE HUR: I go to Asuna’s Darkroom! The boys there are so lovely, helpful, and talented.
"I don’t want any of my pictures to look too polished. I am inspired by the mistakes I make!"
CELL VISION: We also noticed there’s a lot of blur and motion in your recent work, what is inspiring you?
SOPHIE HUR: I've always been obsessed with fucking up images and blurring things. I don’t want any of my pictures to look too polished. I am inspired by the mistakes I make!
CELL VISION: You have a lot of work that is for brands, a lot of work that is for editorial, and then some work that seems more personal, is there a different mental approach for each?
SOPHIE HUR: For brands & some editorials, there are always pretty big guidelines, which I am used to now so I kind of know how weird I can get and how weird is too weird, and sometimes (most times) I am not allowed any weird. I approach my personal work with complete honest freedom and honestly, a big goal of mine is to be able to work with brands, magazines, etc that are COMPLETELY open to me just going for it. Like Frank Lebon's work. I feel like his work is so good and he is such a genius that he can just do what he wants because he’ll knock it out of the park and it remains super weird. A huge inspiration to me.
CELL VISION: You sent us some iPhone photos and said that taking them is a big part of your process, can you tell us more about that?
SOPHIE HUR: It’s not so much a big part of my process as it helps me to look at an image from a different perspective. I like the way a printed image looks through the lens of an iPhone. I actually don't know how to describe why haha
CELL VISION: Who are some of the artists that you admired or looked up to early in your career?
SOPHIE HUR: Frank Lebon, Tyrone Lebone, Virgil Abloh, Hanna Moon, Petra Collins, Collier Schorr, Sandy Kim, Harley Weir, Myles Loftin, Kanye West.
CELL VISION: You talk on your website about “pursuing what it means to merge the lines between my film directing and acting experience and create more space for Asian-Australian/American women actors and filmmakers.” Can you describe ways that you are envisioning (or perhaps are already) putting that into action?
SOPHIE HUR: I dream of writing and directing a film with a strong Asian woman lead. I’m slowly, but surely working on that at the moment. I have so many ideas and scenes/moments in my head, but I find it difficult to put them into a script. On that note, If there are any Asian-American screenwriters out there reading this who are interested, please hit me up!
CELL VISION: Is there anything else you’d like to tell the people?
SOPHIE HUR: Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
You can check out more of Sophie Hur’s work via the Instagram link below