Daniel Yoo – That One Thought

When he’s not studying for his pre-med coursework, Daniel’s off capturing moments which elicit that one thought in a viewer – a powerful and emotional response that has a unique meaning to each person. Check out his story and beautiful work below.


Say hello to Daniel:

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Atop a Mayan temple in Belize

Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I’ve spent half my life in Minnesota and half my life in California – the weird combination that made me. Many of the photos on my Instagram and website show where I have been, which include Belize, South Korea, Canada, Honduras, and most of the United States.


What’s your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite place in the world – this is the hardest question to ask a travel-loving photographer. I will say that there was one place that took my breath away – I was a middle-schooler and had gone to South Korea into this place in the mountains. We hiked for an hour before we reached this amazing, surreal, almost unrealistic fantasy world. The clouds were rolling over the mountain tops and the trees – almost a haunting beauty. I do not have a photo, but I will definitely return to this place one day.


How do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many sources, but mostly from music. I’ve been instrumental since kindergarten, so it is a big part of my life. Sometimes, I would be out driving or walking listening to a song, and I would get that “eureka” moment and have a new idea.


Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

I actually started out in high school randomly. My father had done photography, and I picked it up and tried shooting. The first pictures I took were terrible. I would watch YouTube videos and read articles on composition and lighting until I got better. Professionally, I only started a little over a year ago. That’s when I bought more equipment and started my Instagram and website.


What types of photography do you do?

I don’t do a particular type of photography. If you look through my Instagram or my website, I don’t adhere to landscapes, portraits, etc. I simply shoot what I love, and what I hope my followers will love, as well. I do have a particular affinity for lights: Christmas lights, LED lights, bokeh lights in the background. There’s just something about it that brings a magical feeling to the photograph.


Of the photos you’ve taken – what are your three favorites?

I was walking around in Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea and I saw this group of people tripping and stumbling near a tree. They were trying to take a picture of a little native bird that was flitting from branch to branch. Naturally, I gave it a shot as well. I slowly crept up with my camera and it stopped on a branch. I got closer and it turned and saw me – I froze. It kept staring as I got the shot ready. Immediately after I took the shot, it looked away, and flew off – it was as if the bird was posing for the photo.

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This is of my sister. We were in Belize for a mission trip and she wanted me to take a photo as a memento of the events after all the hard work we had done. We found this little picnic table on a pier after we docked onto a small island. The water was amazing – the color unreproducible, although I tried my best. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

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This photo was also taken in Belize. I had just finished a day of dental assistant work, as well as helping for the children’s camp. On the way back, I looked out the bus window and saw a perfectly clear sky and just knew. As soon as we headed in, I grabbed my camera, pointed it up into the sky, and took a series of long exposures. It may not be very special to some people, but this is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken.

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Photography is competitive.  How do you stand out?

To be absolutely honest, I have no idea. I just put out my best work, and the work I love. If I’m not happy with a picture, I won’t post or share it. I’m a firm believer of quality work than quantity.


What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Ask, ask, ask. If you have questions, ask. If you want to know what camera to buy, ask. If you want to learn a technique, ask. Photography, from what I’ve encountered and how I operate, is a loving community of individuals who help each other. The people here will help you and give you advice if you need it. Feel free to message me for advice or anything you may need. I’m always willing to help.


What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?

Just be natural and communicate well with the photographer. The poses can be uncomfortable or the model may not be comfortable with the pose itself. Simply asking or telling the photographer can make a huge difference in how smooth the project is and how well the photos turn out.


Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

I want to give a shoutout to one of my friends, Jonathan Thomas. He is an amazing photographer and is working with me on many projects. Two models that I worked with who were absolutely amazing were Venn and Klarissa. I had to give them very little instruction to achieve the look I had envisioned. Wonderful people and wonderful photoshoots to add to it.


What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?

My philosophy is simple. Quality over quantity. Post what you love and don’t settle for mediocrity. Don’t let anyone tell you that your photography isn’t good enough. Just post what you put the effort into and you can be proud of showing.


What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?

Time. Time is the detriment to most goals in life and it is the same for photography. There’s such a finite amount of time in a week and being a pre-med college student, time can be hard to find. So when I do have time, I have to decide how to use it. If you have a passion, then you will find time and sleep will be a secondary need.


How do you express yourself through your photography?

The name I chose, that1thought, actually explains this pretty well. I believe that photography isn’t about simply taking a pretty picture or something cool. It’s expressing the feeling of the moment, capturing that fragment of time not just visually, but also emotionally. The best pictures are the ones where even without the description, the viewer simply knows. This is what I try to express in my work – the single thought I had and the waves of emotion I felt in that exact moment.


What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?

It might be a bit cliché, but I went to an art gallery and happened upon a landscape shot by Ansel Adams. It was a half dome picture printed with silver method. It gave me the goal of taking a picture one day that inspires that kind of awe.


What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?

Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos. What I mean by this is, you don’t have to do the “one shot kill” photography. Take a lot so you have the selection. You can get the right micro expression, the right body position, the right feeling and glimmer in the eyes.


What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

  1. The BIGGEST advice I could give anyone is to ask. Simply ask others for help, and of course, be open to their advice. You have to get rid of the mindset that criticism is all negative rather than constructive.
  2. Never. Stop. Innovating. Try new things, seek out the impossible, travel to the unknown. Find the beauty in life and share it through your camera.
  3. When you start out, you don’t need the $4,000 camera and the $10,000 lens kit. You need to learn about composition, lighting, how to have models express what you imagine, and how to edit your work. Equipment will only do so much, knowledge will propel you forward.

What’s one of your biggest fears?

Heights, which is a terrible fear for photographers because many of the best views are from the highest heights. I like to think of it as my passion helping me overcome my fears, literally.


What will you be doing five years from now?

Being a premed college student, I get multiple variations of this question everyday. To be honest, the only thing I want to be doing is anything that will make me happy – that’s all that really matters. However, I can definitely say that photography is most definitely in my future.


What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Totally want to go skydiving, and later, squirrel suiting. If anyone is down to go, hit me up and we’ll talk!


For anyone that wants to get in touch with Daniel, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Website: www.that1thought.com

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @that1thought

Flickr: Profile


Daniel, thanks for taking the time to interview with us! It was a joy getting to know you!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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