Profile – Debra Josephson, Photographer



ARTISTIC STATEMENT- I look at the world and I see the opportunity to take a moment that might be ordinary and make it extraordinary. I see the beauty in all that is around me, even in hopelessness. I take it, feel it, capture it and express it as that. I understand visual communication and how to interpret what I see, think and feel through a camera or other traditional medias like drawing & painting. The world around me makes sense through these forms. It connects me to humanity in the most honest yet most vulnerable way. When I do my art or go to a gallery, it’s a meditation and a way to filter out the truth from all the empty, trivial information that bombards our daily lives. I strive and hunger to be as genuine to myself and those people and places that cross my path in life.

BACKGROUND- I got my B.F.A. in Studio Arts, specializing in Drawing & Painting at The Ohio State University in 1995. A couple of years later, I went on and continued my education for my M.A. in Studio Arts at New York University in 1999. In addition to exhibiting and being part of a thriving art community, in the past decade or so, I have had the privilege to use my skills and knowledge in various creative industries such as Mattel Toys, Inc.- assisting with designing and styling Barbie’s hair and product line; Bloomingdale’s Headquarters- as the Visual Coordinator within the Signing Department; as well as starting up my own photography company, “D Meryl Photography”.  In 2005, a personal awakening forced me to start living more to my truth, an honest life living abroad to explore myself, my art and to be of service to people around me.

For convenience and affordability, I use a DSLR (developing film is too costly now). I just upgraded my camera from a Nikon D70 to the Nikon D300s. The first camera I bought was Nikon N6006  and will continue to be loyal to Nikon’s great quality, service and reliability. However, I would love to get out and play with my Holga and Rollei film cameras for artistic and technical purposes… but they are in storage back in the US.

I have been shooting since I was a teenager (a couple of decades now). I was inspired when my father passed down his Canon AE-1 manual camera to me and able to express myself (I had difficulties verbalizing my thoughts and feelings as a child). I  still use the original Canon camera strap to take him with me everywhere I go.

I always have fun doing my work, either for professional or artistic ventures. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. To start out professionally, I learned about the wedding industry and was the second photographer (PJ-photojournalist-style)  to capture the emotive / artistic perspective of the day, rather than the traditional photos of family and studio portraits. My Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are from Fine Arts studies and learned the spectrum of photography there. In addition, I did start my own business with doing intimate events like weddings, birthdays, communions, etc… but it’s not the type of work I believe are my strengths and interests. I want to produce art for exhibitioning but really want to do documentary work (newspapers, magazines, online venues). Storytellling is my specialty.

PROJECTS- I just started my second semester, working as a Lecturer at Chinju National University of Education in Jinju. It’s two hours by bus directly east of Gwangju. It’s a school for students becoming primary school educators. Very quaint and charming place and get to know our students more intimately. It offers me oodles of time to photograph and invest in community hobbies that are very important to me.
Living here in Korea and being fortunate to be able to travel around Asia, I am working on developing my travel and journalism portfolios to apply for opportunities that incorporate both my skills and passions together (National Geographic, Lonely Planet…) In addition I want to start getting my own business related to that together to help our planet!

INSPIRATION- I find my inspirations purely from my day-to-day life, my surroundings, routine, cultural events, the people that pass in and out of my journeys.  I am always inspired. I always see art around me, everyday. It’s  all about the little moments, simple pleasures and show how beautiful and precious life is. Also, what we do as humans that leave a bread trail or fingerprint that still make my heart sing.

With over 20 years of developing my eye, it’s a training exercise just like any skill. I have to be methodical. Everyday, with or without my camera, I practice looking at my surroundings as a piece of art. Searching for the masterpiece. Something that really encompasses that place, emotion, culture… I never stop. I can’t.  I am deeply involved in the environment I am in at that time. To be great at anything, I believe, you have to immerse yourself in it,  mentally and spiritually.

Korean photographers that interest me-

One, from Damyeong is a renown traditionalist named: Bong-kyu. He is able to capture Korea culture, primarily historical and cultural that just take my breath away and make me sooo envious! I met him at his restaurant there where he has his own gallery space (lucky him!) In addition, here in Jinju a local artist who owns his own cafe filled with eclectic pieces of things. Using medium format film and then scanning into photo programs, he captives his audience with his ethereal, haunting  technique and subjects.

DETAILS OF FAVORITE PHOTOSMy trip to Thailand has created more favorites. I grew more with my photojournalistic work while shooting hours daily for a month.  What I realized this past year is that I still needed to work on building confidence with personal space between myself and people. Great photojournalists / artists can’t be afraid to step over boundaries to get THE shot. Many times my conscience will dominate the goal… and then I lose a moment that I can never get back. Therefore, I put myself to the challenge. Rather than putting my telephoto lens on I kept my standard lens, 17-50mm, on my camera and took some deep breaths to build some courage. It wasn’t easy. So, now the shots where I was able to have eye-to-eye connections with my subjects are currently some of my greatest photos. For example, while on the sleeper train traveling north to south through Thailand, I walked through the cars to get the connections with the culture, both workers and travelers and out the window.  It drew attention to me… “the gringo with the big camera”. Scary and exhilarating.

EXHIBITIONS- Although I need to take more initiatives on opts for exhibiting, I am currently collaborating with a few artists in Gwangju, an international and Korea influence to do a show in the Spring or early summer. The theme is “Happy Moments” and I’ve got a few ideas in mind to use mix mediums, incorporation photos, drawing and painting. Looking forward to see how we can also create one piece with all 4 of our perspectives. I’ll keep you posted on place and dates!


Thank you Debra. Please scroll down to view her work.

“Tree”- Near dusk, I shot some of the landscapes on a tour of the Kao Sok dam. The dam was created to generate electricity for the region. The river of unsalted water runs many miles.

“China Mask”- In Chiang Mai. I shot details in the Chinese Pavillion just before a performance celebrating Lunar New Year. This is a multiple exposure.

“Tattoo Melon”- An ecotourist with my group at Elephant Nature Park. I liked the contrast of the watermelon with his body art.

“Family”- Photo taken at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Just like humans, they will create a family unit, even if not blood related.

“Dragon”- Just a phenomenal detail telling the story about the Buddhist culture and their passion for their beliefs.

“7UP”- While waiting for some delicious food, I enjoyed seeing the soda bottle with both Thai and English. A multiple exposure to show both sides at same time.

“Waiting With Crogs”- Flower Festival in Chiang Mai.. these parade marchers were waiting for the next bus. Contrast of past/present.
2 Responses to “Profile – Debra Josephson, Photographer”
  1. Mark Eaton says:

    Beautiful work!

  2. koreamaria says:

    Stunning work as always. Waiting to see what Thai company picks up your photos!

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