We had the good fortune of connecting with Isabel Han and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Isabel, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
A lot of things make me happy. I enjoy time with family and friends. I love being a photographer. It makes me happy to host people at my house and make food. However, what makes me the happiest is my faith. Being a Christian gives me so much joy, hope, and peace that is incomparable to anything else, even what is listed above. There is a sense of purpose and reason for everything I go through. I think we can all agree that life is hard and life is broken, but I believe there is God who is good, who takes care of me, and is always with me. I can trust in God who has the best in mind for me, like a father who wants the best for his daughter. I would love to personally talk to you more if you are interested in hearing more!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a photographer and it has been quite a journey for me. My parents gave me my first camera as a freshman in high school and at the same time I joined the girls basketball team. After a year of playing basketball, I decided to stop playing and became their manager, which required filming and photographing the team during games. My introduction to photography started on the basketball court.
Because of my unique introduction to photography, my passion is in sports photography. After graduating high school, I went to Arizona State University to pursue my dreams of studying photography.
The hardest part about going to ASU for photography was that it was specifically art photography. The photography that I wanted to grow in was sports photography, and while there was a journalism school, I did not particularly want to study photojournalism. There was a tension I felt in my class where I felt that I should be creating art, but I desired to focus on sports.
Joining the State Press, ASU’s student run newspaper, I was able to get access to all the sports games. State Press grew my ability to photograph sports in my spare time, while in my classes, I learned what it meant to focus on art photography. Eventually, I was able to learn how to artistically shoot sports.
The biggest challenge I had was to merge both art and sports. Influenced and supported by my professor, Liz Cohen, I started to aggressively crop and reframe sports images I took to create a new body of work. I started appropriating from my own archive of sports images to shift the narrative of sports to the body of an athlete. I was able to create a whole body of artworks from my sports photographs, which I was excited about.
During my collegiate years, it was hard to learn to be an artist as I was pursuing sports photography as a career, but as I was challenged by my professors, it helped me grow in my ability to be creative and pushed my boundaries. I’ve found many professors and classmates who were willing to challenge me and grow with me, which I am grateful for.
Currently, what I am professionally doing with photography is freelancing. There have also been several opportunities outside of college to exhibit my artwork, which have been exciting. I not only grew in my ability to shoot artistically, I learned a lot of portraiture throughout college. I now have a business called IHphotographs (Isabel Han photographs) where seniors, families, couples, and organizations reach out to me to photograph them. I have learned to be more artistic, and challenge myself to grow in different areas of photography, and it all started on a basketball court from my high school. On top of photography, I am working full time at my church called Church on Mill with the college ministry, Christian Challenge. At Church on Mill I combine both of my passions in my work. I am able to share with college students about who Jesus is, photograph all the various events and activities, and also run the social media account! It is a joy being able to do what I love most at my job.
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?
As a photographer, I think of places that are fun to be at, while also fun to photograph. Here are some places to visit and to eat!
Places to check out:
Papago Park (Hole in the Rock)
Tempe Town Lake
Hike at South Mountain
Hike at A mountain (near ASU)
Downtown Phoenix (First Friday or Phoenix Art Museum)
Places to eat:
Maskadores Taco Shop
Some of the best places to check out is Hole-in-the-Rock, especially to see the sunset. It is absolutely beautiful and cool to see Tempe at a higher vantage point.
Tempe Town Lake has so many activities from riding bike, paddle boarding, kayaking, to walking around the park.
Downtown Phoenix is a fun place to be, especially during the night and during First Friday where there are blocks and blocks of artists and music.
Some of my favorite restaurants are Morning Squeeze, Postinos, and Maskadores Taco Shop. Morning Squeeze is a brunch spot with all sorts of breakfast foods and good drinks. Postinos is my go to restaurant as they have bruschetta, cheese boards, paninis, and more! Lastly, if you want a good Mexican restaurant, Maskadores has the best street tacos!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many who have been part of my support system, these are two who have been very influential and impactful. Shoutout to my family who has raised me and supported me my whole life. Shoutout to Church on Mill for being my main community who encourages me in my faith.