We had the good fortune of connecting with Grace Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grace, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unreliable. Risk is subjective. But risk is one of those things where if you don’t take it, you’ll constantly be wondering the ‘what if’s’ in life. It’s important to calculate risk and if possible, always have a plan B. But I also believe that having a plan B to fall back on is privilege. Not everyone has the same opportunities and resources if their risky plans don’t fall into place, but it’s not impossible to build up to secondary plans.
I willingly took the biggest risk in my life to pursue my dreams of exploring the world through photography. This risk consisted of quitting my job, leaving comfort, losing friends, letting go of financial security, and not being close to family. Unsure of how things would turn out, I chose discomfort because I was curious about a life that seemed impossible to reach within my current lifestyle. Fast forward 18 months later and risking security was the best decision I’ve at that point in my life. Not only am I now living in a desired lifestyle, but I also have learned new skills and have curated relationships with those who continue to challenge and allow me to make this lifestyle possible.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a full time creative, focusing on creating travel content through photography and journalism. I got reintroduced to photography with a friend at the time, and got addicted to photographing sunsets. I used to work right across the NYC skyline and took photos during every lunch break and after work – just in time for sunset. I was so addicted to travel and photography that I traveled somewhere every weekend, if it wasn’t into the Manhattan. Sometimes, I’d even fly over to California for 24 hours just to take photos.
Embedding myself more into this lifestyle, I quickly realized that I was able to turn this hobby into a career. And although this is the lifestyle I most dearly wanted, it was not easy to get to. It required me to take a huge turn in my life, sacrifice hanging out with friends, and spent every weekend building my website and social media channels.
This process was nonetheless a challenge, as it has molded and shaped me into the person I am today. But with hard work and persistency, obtaining this lifestyle is possible. Open mindedness is important and crucial to its success, as it may redirect you towards a path you never would’ve imagined you would take.
People continue to ask me how I do it and how I’ve been able to survive traveling for as long as I have but to answer in short, I don’t have a singular method on doing this. I’m constantly networking, trying out different avenues to see what may work, and crossing my fingers that I get through the next day.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite things is showing visitors cities I’m familiar with. Growing up across the river from NYC, I’ve always acted like both the tourist and tour guide whenever friends would visit.
Depending on the visitors interest, I’d curate the route to what they might enjoy doing. If it’s not capturing sunset at iconic NYC locations, it’s taking them to tourist attractions, like Times Square, and obviously buying dollar pizza. If it’s in season, we’d go rooftop hopping and visit parks and museums.
Eating out at popular restaurants are also important to check out, but I’ll take visitors to some of my favorite hole in the wall spots. The going-out scene is also a huge, cultural thing to do in NYC as I’ll try my best to add going to the bars/show at the end of each day. Additionally, if time allows, I’ll also take my visitors into Hoboken, NJ to view the NYC skyline. It always gives a different perspective and to say the least, Jersey isn’t so bad after all!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To my loving father, who’s been more than supportive since I started gearing off the path of linearity. He’s guided me through some of my toughest mental battles, and continues to challenge me in all my endeavors. I give him credit for my wanderlust as he doesn’t hesitate to understand my why. I love you so much, appa.
I also want to give a shoutout to my best friend, Derek Liang, who’s been on this journey with me since day 1. Coincidently, Derek was visiting NYC and we met up on the last day of my full-time job. I wasn’t even sure if we’d get along, but we had a blast that weekend. Fast forward a couple of weeks and we hung out everyday for a month in San Francisco. Quickly enough, Derek has become my best friend and even bigger support. Since then, we’ve done countless trips and more sunrise/sunset sends than I can even count. Derek, if it wasn’t for you, I can confidently say that I would not be where I am. Thank you for being you and for your unending love and support.
Makito Umekita, Phil Nguyen