Benny Who, Photographer

Name: Benny Who
Title: Photographer
Location: Seattle, WA
Socials: Facebook  |  Instagram

"Benny's unique photographic eye and my wearable art turned out to be a beautiful collaborative relationship. She's an old soul who strives to capture moments of reconciled turmoil in both her self portraiture and photographs of others. It's incredible to work with a photographer who's consistently on board for any challenge and is able to create a dialogue with her art. Without which, art is useless.” - Lex 

Artist Statement: 
I grew up all around the Seattle area and currently reside in this rainy, cold, beautiful city. My parents bought a brick of a Canon for me when I was 16. That was in 2002 and it completely changed me. It brought me purpose and connection. Now I spend my free time photographing interesting and unique people in gorgeous settings and it's a relief to expel all my built up creative energy with like-minded artists.

Have you always been an artist? What inspired you to start creating?
I've been photographing since I was in high school. Depression actually drove me to create. I didn't feel purpose anymore really for life or an interest in anything. When my parents bought me a camera it all fell into place.

Where do you find inspiration, and what unexpected sources do you draw inspiration from?
I was always inspired by the fashion magazines and the gorgeous spreads they had. Then as I grew up, the creation of photography in its infancy, the first portraits mainly of women, were very interesting to me. I was always drawn to people. Their lives, their thoughts and what they wanted to be in these photos. What type of character. If even just themselves.

I was always drawn to people. Their lives, their thoughts and what they wanted to be in these photos.

How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?
Shooting mainly self-portraits was really the start of expressing myself first and foremost. Then I found people who wanted to share in that, which is such a blessing. I've been given a lot of truly fantastic opportunities.

How would you describe the style of your work? Do you have a preferred aesthetic, or would you say you're experimental?
I describe my work as a different world. That you find yourself somewhere else when you see them. Just like I did when I saw photographs as a kid.

What is your typical day like?
I work full time as an office manager for a web development company, so I mainly do my time there and then come home to let my mind wander.  The weekends are my creative space. I tend to paint, write poetry or set up a shoot. Something to get my week's frustrations or roadblocks out.

How do you build community as an artist? How has the creative community helped you grow and share your art?
I feel like Instagram has been very helpful in reaching out and collaborating with some amazing people. The people that have entrusted me with their vision and their shoots has been overwhelming. I've met fashion designers, makeup artists, hair designers. It's been amazing to work with so many people!

What makes a positive collaborative experience for you?
Communication and openness. I feel like a team who are down to earth, who can laugh and be themselves is truly a great thing!

What artists inspire you? Do you have favorite blogs, artists, or social media accounts that you'd like to share?
I love following [photographers] Svyatoslav Gindler and Jesse Herzog. Their creativity is so vast! And I'll always be inspired by Annie LeibovitzHer photographs in magazines I used to read created such magic for me. Earlier photographer Edward Steichen's work of women is always a great inspiration to me.

Any upcoming projects or events you'd like to plug?
I'm publishing a book of my poetry soon. Hopefully before the end of the year. I wrote poetry before I even photographed, so it'll be wonderful to see my work throughout the years in paper form and to share it with others.

How do you prevent, and how do you recover from burnout?
Me time. Always me time. I sit in a space, listen to classical or Tori Amos and just breathe. I may clean, tidy up my space. Helps to clear out my mind. Or something that really helps is a small self-portrait shoot!

What are your goals and aspirations for your business?
To keep on creating. To not let the online social aspect keep me from wanting to shoot. It's kind of a beast of its own, your online presence. And I want to make sure I don't lose focus on why I started shooting in the first place.

If you had a pet tardigrade, what would you name it?

Do you believe in UFOs?
I like to believe in magic, and I feel like UFOs could definitely be under that category.

What genre do you most read/watch?
Drama, usually romantic historical drama.

If you never had to worry about money or health insurance again, how would you choose to spend your time?
Traveling and photographing the world and its people.

Do you have any advice for artists or creative business people?
Don't be afraid to put your work out there. Don't be afraid to fail or to run into people who don't "get it". Not everyone will. But the ones who do, the ones who see your potential or your capacity for creating are the ones to keep around. Just get out there and share your work!

One last question. Which is better: the squirrel or the coyote?
Both have their charms and while I'd like to say I'm a fierce and fearless coyote, I think I really just end up storing up food and run away from cars like a squirrel.