Photo by Your Story in Photos
My dog, Bears
So, I actually graduated from the University of Memphis (Go Tigers!) with a degree in International Business and Foreign Languages. Nothing to do with photography at all, really. I had intended on living abroad with a fancy corporate job where I wore Chanel and had super sophisticated international friends who all met up every Wednesday to drink expensive wine…I mean, why not? (I’m sure just reading this statement makes you kinda hate me…) But when you’re 22, all you can think about is making a decision RIGHT NOW, and that decision is going to be your “forever” decision, so it better be fucking amazing.
But as it turns out…that’s not my life AT ALL. While I’m sitting on my couch typing this exact statement, I’m wearing house shoes and some yoga pants in Denver, CO.
And a few years ago, when I told old acquaintances from high school that I was a photographer, I was honestly a little embarrassed of myself. (Ever see Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion…?) All of these big plans…CHANEL, people, CHANEL…and here I am working with my dad in his photography business.
I’d tell myself: “This is just for the time being, Madison. You’ll find something better.”
When I think back to this, part of me wants to slap myself and the other part of me just laughs. Because while I was freaking out right after college having panic attacks trying to decide what to do with my life, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It turns out that being “just a photographer” and working in my dad’s family business was the best decision I ever fell into and something I never thought I would want, let alone need in my life.
YEN STUDIOS WAS MY DAD’S BUSINESS, AND IT’S WHERE IT ALL STARTED.
Sprinkled throughout my site, you’ll find a million references to my dad, Rupert…or Rufio as I called him. Working with him, man, we fought ALL the time; it was just our nature. I thought I knew more about business because I had a business degree. And he thought I was too big for my britches and didn’t have a clue. (For the record – I was, and I didn’t.)
Dad taught me a lot about business and photography, though it was more of a “wax on, wax off” kind of teaching…if you knew him, you’d laugh. But most importantly, he taught me about life and all of the things that make it worth living.
After he passed away in 2015, I was left with his equipment and my memories and the shell of Yen Studios. What is Yen Studios without Rufio? What kind of business do I even have without Rufio? I thought long and hard about keeping it alive even when my dad wasn’t. I mean, how can you dismantle something your father worked 35 years on building? But at the end of the day, I just couldn’t make it my own. And I didn’t want to. It was always his, and I never felt like I could do it justice.
Finally, after 4 years of being in some sort of limbo, here I am. Where every day, I figure out that I have more to learn, more to see, and more to try. But I’m proud of this journey, I’m proud of this work, and I’m proud of this name I’m building. So, if you ask me, I’ll tell you…
MY NAME IS MADISON. MADISON YEN. AND I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER.
And I’ve never been more proud than when I get to tell people who I am and where I came from. With or without Chanel.
So, grab a glass of wine and hang out for a while. I’m glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to show you more.
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