Local award-winning photographer on display at ASU

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Montgomery, AL (WSFA) - A local award-winning photographer was on exhibit Thursday and Friday at Alabama State University, but the story behind the photographer is just as impressive as the pictures themselves.

Kumi Cho came to Alabama nearly five years ago after her husband was transferred to the Hyundai Plant in Montgomery.  She was born in Japan, but after marrying, moved to Korea.  English, she says, is her third language.

Not long after moving here, she decided to take up a new hobby, photography, and she enrolled in a course at Auburn University Montgomery.  The photographs she's taken since have won several awards, including one from the Alabama National Fair.

Kumi is also a talented musician.  She plays traditional Korea drums, and that music is what led her to a dear friend, Kamilah Long.  Kamilah taught music at BTW Magnet High School, and Kumi showed Kamilah's class the instruments.  Their friendship grew from there, meeting once a month for lunch.  In many ways, she helped Kumi transition to life in America.  Kamilah says, Kumi's photographs were inspiring.  She said her pictures were so expressive and wonderful that she said it was the soul of Alabama.

Kumi and her family will be moving back to Korea later this month.  She hopes to use these photographs to show her friends and family back home the beauty of Alabama.

Kamilah says that when she met Kumi, Kumi said that she was amazed at the beauty of Alabama.  In Korea, the skies looked gray.  But when she got here, she saw blue skies and landscapes, so taking pictures was the only way to show her family what her new home looked like.

Kamilah also says, the pictures made her realize that she was taking the beauty around her for granted, and that she now sees Alabama in a whole new way.

And for Kumi, her time here, she says, will be in her memories forever.  Her pictures are a way to take a piece of Alabama home with her.

Earlier this week, Kumi also had the opportunity to meet with Prattville Mayor Jim Byard.  She says, he helped her spread the word about her exhibit.