BPW Student Spotlight: Joon Kang

It's time for the latest BPW Student Spotlight, where we highlight a different member of our talented community to learn more about how our students turn their passion for photography into freelance work, fulfilling hobbies, or even full-time careers. This month: street photographer Joon Kang!

©Caitlin Manning Photography

South Korea native Hyuck Joon Kang (just “Joon” to his friends) came to the United States in 2003 to pursue his doctoral degree in molecular genetics at the University of Tennessee.

He is currently a research instructor for Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studying developmental control of epigenetic gene regulation during development in fruit flies and mammalian stem cells. But when he’s not in the laboratory, he can often be found taking photos—particularly high contrast street photography.

Taking it to the Streets

Kang’s first introduction to the BPW came from his wife, Heather Kang, who has been taking classes with us since 2016. She had been teaching him how to use his camera in manual mode and encouraged him to take the Better Composition: Photo Walk in Salem, MA, because photography had developed into a shared hobby for them.

“During that class, I realized that light and shadow could be used to produce so many different moods, and I wanted to make use of that in my own photo style,” says Kang. “The praise from Chris, Anthony, and Gabi about an image in which I used sharp contrast also encouraged me to continue looking for diverse ways to use light and shadow in my photos.”

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Since that first class, Kang’s true interest in photography began. Because of his time-intensive job as a scientist, he didn’t have many opportunities for travel to places with beautiful landscapes. So, he looked to the city in which he lived for inspiration.

“I became interested in street photography first because it’s a good exercise to train my eye to look for new and different images and moods that others might overlook in very familiar surroundings,” says Kang “It has also helped me change my view of things from one of seeing photos as spoiled when people walk into a carefully composed image, to finding it valuable to use people in my photos to create more beautiful image where people exist in harmony with background.”


Kang also finds that street photography in a city with tall buildings provides a great way to practice using light and shadow in the environment he sees every day. While he doesn’t have plans to become a professional photographer, he has spent the last several years honing a very vibrant and atmospheric style with high contrast. 

“Photography has become an enjoyable outlet to escape from my daily stress, and it is most helpful to me as a hobby that increases my happiness by allowing me to shoot what speaks to me personally.”