Around Art with Ye Rin Mok

Fascinated by the homes, spaces and personalities from the pages of our favourite editorial magazines, we have had the fortune of collaborating with Ye Rin over the course of the past year. Her signature instinctual style is effortless and sincere as she photographs an individual’s essence in a truly intimate way.

Ye Rin Mok is a lifestyle and interiors photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Her work spans architecture, portraits, and beyond for clients such as Architectural Digest, Vogue, Airbnb, Apartamento and Dwell, to name a few. In Korean, Ye Rin translates to “around art.”

How did you arrive at the practice of photography?
My mom used to be a high school art teacher and my parents met through her work. Art has surrounded me from an early age and my parents have always been encouraging. I’ve always been interested in visual things growing up like fashion and films, and I studied studio art in college, focusing on photography.
How do you define what you do?
Lately I’ve been feeling like a house painter—as I’ve been shooting more interiors I see there’s a system or routine to it, specific shots I need to get and editing them after. It can get somewhat repetitive, but there’s still room for my creative input in terms of what I observe and how I choose to capture and process them and a problem-solving aspect that I enjoy. I’m learning to appreciate both aspects of my work. Depending on the subjects I shoot, but especially when I’m photographing people, I still like to shoot film because it can help you to be in the moment. I also enjoy the process of shooting film, with a limited number of shots and having to wait a couple of days to see the result, there are often unexpected surprises.

We are all influenced by certain images in our childhood or adult memory that shape and accompany the works we do. They become points of reference in our personal psyche. Which are yours?
I remember when I was young, going on long road trips with my family, visiting national parks and seeing open landscapes. Years later I remember when I saw Wim Wenders’ movie Paris, Texas that left a strong impression on me I think because that movie captures that feeling of open spaces and longing.
What creative pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve had some chances to travel by myself, to visit France and Japan. These were some of my first times travelling alone, going to new places on my own, observing and taking pictures, which was inspiring.

How would you describe your practice at this very moment?
When I started I shot a lot of different types of subjects, but I feel like now I have sort of found my focus. All of the work I did before helped to steer me in a certain direction that I’m now settling into.
Your vignettes of people in their homes (and/ or studio spaces) feel deeply personal and intimate. Do you have a favourite or most memorable experience?
Architectural Digest assigned me to shoot Bill Pullman’s house. He and his wife were so kind, and their house was so warm and inviting. When I mentioned to him that my boyfriend is a big fan, he invited us over for dinner a week later, and I brought a framed picture I took of them in their orchard for them. We had a wonderful time hanging out and getting to know them and their family. Bill even served us fresh apple sorbet made from the apples from their orchard.
How do you prepare to shoot these spaces that can feel so private and personal to an individual? What moments are you trying to capture?
I feel lucky to get invited to photograph some of these personal spaces; I try to capture the space with respect and sincerity as if I’m photographing a person. It’s not about the objects per se, it’s about the people living there that makes the space. Trying to capture the person living there, their personality and the personality of the space.

Your job requires you to travel and meet many people. Are there constants you find across settings and situations? Have you found something unexpected that unites us in our humanity?
I still get nervous before shoots, I’m an introvert and meeting new people isn’t natural for me, but people are very open and welcoming. I feel a kinship with them at the end of the long day of shooting.
From growing up in South Korea to moving to the US and now bouncing around the world for work, what does home mean to you?
LA feels like home because I’ve lived here longer than anywhere in my life, but I don’t know if there’s a specific place that I consider home. Home I guess has always meant family and loved ones. I spend a lot of time with my parents, and whenever we go to their place and have a meal together or spend time together, it feels like home.
Beyond your primary creative drive, what are you interested in exploring?
In the past few years, I have really gotten into yoga. I try to do some yoga everyday and have been working on improving my handstand. I feel that I am the strongest I’ve ever been in my life, and the focusing/calming effects of yoga have I think also helped with my job as well. Last year my dad started teaching me to play golf. It’s fun learning something new and it’s also been good bonding time with my dad.

What is your idea of intuition?
 Intuition is that inner voice that an artist needs to develop, to learn to listen to. It doesn’t matter how much theory or education you get, if you’re not in tune with your intuition and you don’t allow yourself to follow it then it’s hard to create something that speaks to you and ultimately to others.
What is a constant ritual/routine/space you carve for yourself?
During lockdown, I couldn’t go to the yoga studio where I used to practice. I didn’t think I would be able to transition to doing yoga at home, but soon I was doing it every day. I now try to wake up early every morning and do at least an hour of yoga. It’s become one of the most important parts of my daily routine.

Where do you go to replenish and inspire?
Nature always helps to replenish and inspire me. I like to go camping. It helps to take you away from your daily routine. My boyfriend and I like to go to Convict Lake near Mammoth.
What gives you hope?
I think by just living your life, you’re already hopeful. If you just take things one day at a time and are in the moment then that’s hope.

What new experiences are you longing for?
I’m eager to do more travelling. I miss visiting somewhere new and just walking around and taking pictures.
If you were to sit at a table with the most inspiring people, who would you be sitting with?
My family.
What are you sure about today, and how are you living it?
 I’m sure that I got my yoga in for today and that the mat will be waiting there for me tomorrow morning. 


@YERINMOK

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