Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun

September 8, 2009

Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun

Known for his unconventional concepts and clean aesthetic, David Byun has compiled an expansive portfolio throughout the years. Byun’s work has been featured in 42 publications from 18 different countries around the globe, and the New York based photographer shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In a recent interview with Fashion Gone Rogue, he reveals some insight into the mysterious world of fashion photography.

Fashion Gone Rogue: How did your career in photography get started?

David Byun: I started as an art director at a few different advertising agencies in New York City. I continually worked with photographers on various projects, and always felt I could do better. I bought some lights, emptied everything out of my apartment, and started shooting all of my good looking friends.

Fashion Gone Rogue: When you shoot for publications such as W Korea, do you get a say in what models are chosen?

David Byun: When I’m shooting for W Asia, or Vogue Korea, I have a great deal of say in who we shoot. I have great connections with modeling agencies in NYC, and since the publications are so noted, it’s not hard to get supermodels, especially for covers.

Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun

Fashion Gone Rogue: If you weren’t a photographer you would be…

David Byun: I would be a film maker, or would have my own magazine. I would do those things anyways, but will also always be a photographer.

Fashion Gone Rogue: A lot of your photography has an artistic flair to it with grand concepts and the like, how do you come up with such creative ideas?

David Byun: Since I was an art director, I was always able to concept very well. But honestly, a lot of concepts come to me moments before shoot time. Utilizing anything around me as inspiration and props.

Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun

Fashion Gone Rogue: You photograph editorials and ad campaigns in addition to your own conceptual images. Is it difficult to shoot in so many genres? Do you need to get into a different groove for each one?

David Byun: I have a style that I’m known for, so no matter what I’m doing my aesthetic shows in the end. That’s not something that I try to do each time, it just has happens over so many shoots. But each shoot I do is always fun, and productive, and I have the same seriousness for any style of shoot I’m doing, whether its for a campaign or my personal work.

Fashion Gone Rogue: What is your favorite job or photo to date?

David Byun: I don’t have a favorite photo in particular. But I do like the shot of the nun that I did, because It was one of the first images I took and people still really like it. I actually shot it in my living room!

Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun

Fashion Gone Rogue: Do you visit any blogs or forums?

David Byun: Only yours!

Fashion Gone Rogue: Lastly, what can we expect from you in the upcoming months?

David Byun: I will be in Europe working the entire month of September for an ad campaign and a lot of editorials. I will also be doing some exciting video work, another campaign in the US, and some more editorials as well. It’s consistently busy, and I love it.

14 thoughts on “Exclusive | Q & A With Photographer David Byun”

  1. It seems David may be in trouble do to copyright violations. I really wish him the luck he will need to come through the other side of this a viable business and photographer. As a potential business looking in from the outside, the moment you violate an individuals civil rights by publishing images of them in advertisement without a signed release or fraudulently represent what someone is shooting for; the ad agencies, model agencies, companies, and the entire industry begins to question the type of person and business they are dealing with. In an photographic industry full of talent, no one in the decision making sector of advertisement, fashion editors, model agencies, will deal with someone taking advantage or misrepresenting what one is doing in order disenfranchise a model or client of their image rights. I hope for David’s sake he can survive this career ending case. On the other side of the coin, should this model have filed a case against him frivolously, signed a model release and had a call sheet that said what company they were shooting for this case will not hurt David at all. More importantly if David can provide the receipt from the models agency that clearly describes the client as the client in question, with a description of the job and usage he will walk away from this unscathed. However, if he cannot provide the model release, the call sheet is missing the client information, (meaning it doesn’t say the name of the client on the call sheet) and the receipt of payment does not describe the terms of usage or client name David will loose the case. 




    David Byun exercises improper business schemes at the expense of models,
    agencies, companies, colleagues and collaborators.  Many of the people
    reading this that have worked with David Byun will soon realize they too
    have been deceived.

    After hearing about the Federal lawsuit concerning David Byun aka David
    Byun Creative Inc. , I found it sensible to write this. I have known David
    Byun for years and can tell you from first hand experience that Byun is *not
    * a trustworthy person nor can I even imagine the treachery he has peddled
    to his legal representatives to assist him on this case. *(I hope they get
    paid before they put all the work in)*  I say this from having
    personally with Byun, and having been a casualty of his duplicitous way of
    working. I have been in the fashion industry for decades as an agent, art
    buyer, legal consultant, and executive. I am considered by thousands of my
    colleagues as an expert in the fashion business because of my long history
    of booking many thousands of commercial jobs.  Byun lacks a photographic
    agent in NYC because he systematically cheats his agents, does bookings
    behind the agencies back and doesn’t pay the commissions promised. He is a
    “nobody” that has rested on Korean magazines to make his phony
    manifestation a feasible way of appealing small startup fashion companies
    and even big ones into commissions.

    I can unmistakably remember *voluminous* instances where Byun has done
    exactly what is alleged in the lawsuit brought against him in Federal
    Court. Specifically, deceiving models and agents about photoshoots. I have
    far reaching and a considerable amount of friends at model agencies and in
    the fashion industry worldwide; one which has found another instance with
    striking similarity and deception; specifically, to the intentions of how
    the images of the model would be used based on emails from Byun and how
    they were used in actuality.

    *Another potential severe case is pending from a top agency & top model.
    The foundation is being formed at this very moment.*


    What I know and what friends at agencies have come to consensus and
    apprehension about Byun’s deceitful working pattern is this:

    Byun articulates usually via email that he is shooting “*small jobs”,
    tests, specs, for a friend assignments and for low rates*, promises
    beautiful photos and non advertisement usage, usually lookbooks, line
    sheets, and trade images knowing clearly that the intention of the client
    is to use the
    images for commercial consumer purposes.  Then images are
    used in websites, advertisements, ads or anything he has pledged to the
    client, Byun purposefully leaves out in attempt to purge his wrongdoing
    usage on contracts with these small companies, or doesn’t do them at
    all.  Since Byun’s clients are usually minor or unknown, the images are
    never detected as illegal usage. Byun takes advantage of the fact that some
    novice clients do not grasp the working and procedural regulations required
    to use images of models for consumer usage, such as model releases,
    contracts etc.  When Byun offers the service to his clients, he does his
    best to provide the entire creative team, hair, makeup, retouching, videos
    and models, in essence the entire production; which is totally fine, the
    issue is Byun lies about how the images are going to be used to everyone on
    the team including the model agencies *(Byun communicates to the clients
    has “connections” at the agencies, the reality is this is precisely where
    the deception starts. see *)    *for the sole purpose to profit from the
    uninformed team.  These actions are the “soul” of fraud.

    ·          *Model agencies of repute & prestige will not give experienced
    talent to a low paying company for consumer usage, these jobs could
    potential damage the models future. Byun sets up the agency to a lower rate
    so that he profits all the money possible from the client using the tactic
    explained here:*

    * A regular usage of consumer speech in advertisement for a medium level
    model with 1 year usage for a small clothing company would cost the client
    between. 5-10k for the date rate. A top model 10k-50k and a supermodel up
    to a millions of dollars depending on usage/time/exposure and client.  *

    *In the usual Byun circumstance, his client total budget base is around
    10k-20k for the entire production at best, so Byun fraudulently represents
    what the job is for to the agencies, and make statements like,  the job is
    a small company,  for: promo / a friend / test/ spec/ etc… These statements
    disarms the agencies and Byun gets the jobs categorized into non consumer
    usage/ non web/editorial/spec rates/trial/promo/etc… This allows the
    booking of a mid level model for 500-1500 dollars, all  based on trust.*

    * Now in respect to an international makeup campaign in various countries;
    because of the nature of the exclusivity required by high end cosmetic
    companies contracts rates can range from 200k-to multi millions of dollars
    even for relatively unknown models, especially over a three year period or
    if the images are used in national magazine advertisements with point of
    purchase scenarios such as in a retail stores and webpages worldwide. This
    is where the deception and treachery of
    Byun is so apparent in this
    particular case. Byun in essence has prevented a model for the last three
    years from being able to procure a cosmetic contract, basically irreparably
    damaging her career.*


    The larger more reputable agencies and even smaller ones have fixed onto
    this deceitful pattern, and will never work with Byun on commercial jobs
    with reputable models, moving forward.  A few agents in consensus with
    models have suggested   playing imprudent to the deceit and sue Byun when
    images are used illegally, Byun is well on the way to becoming victim to
    his own deception.

    Now, moving onto the way Byun has survived in business, Byun (Sung Byun) is
    a native Korean and capitalized on the expanding commercial viability of
    magazines such as Korean W and occasionally Korean Vogue. These magazines
    have given Byun a bargaining chip with the reputable agencies for the top
    talent, he has
    obtained the models usually paid 150.00-1500.00 dollars for
    a cover/editorial based on the magazine reputation, not his own. This is
    the going rate for an editorial, as everyone knows in the fashion
    industry. You will never see Byun cross over to the American, French,
    Italian versions of these magazines, for the sharp fact that these
    magazines would never work with him because he lacks the proficiency of a
    Mert & Marcus, Mario Testino, or Steven Meisel, not only technically but
    more importantly as a human being. Also key agents at the top agencies in
    the world will have nothing to do with Byun working with top girls,
    especially with what has come to light.

    That being said, Byun has created a large magnitude of one time disgruntled
    clients like, Nieman Marcus, Saks, and many more, including myself.  Byun
    also once worked with Naomi Campbell for Harper’s Spain in 2004, then in
    exchange for consideration in
    future shoots gave her images to a “not so
    good” (as he stated) magazine in New York City. This pretty much ended his
    relationship with IMG once Naomi was represented there a few years later.

    As time would have it, the Korean magazines that Byun bases his fictional
    “top” photographer prestige on, have also moved clearly in a different
    direction. The magazine editors have found other Korean photographers that
    are just nicer and more talented to work with. For this specific reason W
    Korea magazine did not work with Byun on the last anniversary issue. Its
    more then likely that his continued work with these magazines will also
    terminate rapidly given the circumstances of this case.  Clients just don’t
    like working with Byun, he has no ability to take criticism, is not open to
    a team work environment and systematically tries to eliminate anybody from
    the photoshoot that would be able to see his pedestrian skills.
    Byun has
    been falling in a descending spiral because the years of miserable and
    deceiving business tactics, and alienating everyone that comes in contact
    with him for an amount of time. I am sure in his mind, the photography
    industry is a dying business; but in fact it’s an emergent and vastly
    developing industry that he is being left out of.

    Moving on to this case, When I came across the complaint I instantaneously
    knew he was guilty of the charges. I am confident Byun did not tell the
    plaintiff what the images were for ; nor the agency, as he states in his
    declaration. *(this is proved below see email **)* He  more than likely
    twisted and omitted emails that he claims are “real” in his declaration.  A
    huge incongruity is very evident in the call sheet and receipt of payment
    by Major Model Management. The documents (call sheet, receipt) make no
    reference to the cosmetic company or usage agreement, on the
    contrary the
    call sheet appears like the model had been sent to a “test” product shoot.
    Furthermore, Katia Sherman president of Major Model Management is a
    absolute professional that supervises all cosmetic agreements, her 20+
    years in the industry would never allow this shoot to have happened, she
    takes pride and safe guards all her models from this sort of trickery, no
    single agent could confirm a international cosmetic campaign without
    Sherman’s input at Major Model Management.  All the agencies including
    Major Model Management have a fiduciary duty to the model to state what the
    shoot is for in writing, and to put this into the callsheet and clearly
    into the receipt of payment, in Byun’s case this completely absent. There
    is *no* way the agency cheated the model, it makes no sense they would be
    cheating themselves.

    The plaintiff claims in the complaint that she was not paid for the
    makeup campaign. This claim is valid she was paid for a
    product test shoot, and the client was David Byun Creative Inc. She did not
    sign an agreement or model release with Byun and the supposed emails Byun
    claims to have, are more than likely stringed together emails, *(***see
    footnote)* and lack the standards of electronic discovery. The 1500.00 rate
    is what an agency would charge for a test shoot of products, with *no*
    usage.  I also noticed that Byun claims to have paid the plaintiff 150.00
    for a previous shoot in Sept of 2009, this rate is considered a symbolic
    rate, agencies do with photographers for small non consumer, editorials,
    lighttests, linesheets, & lookbooks for internal usage of a designers
    collection to present at market week in or internal trade. *(its important
    to remember in 2009, some agencies that had not caught on to Byun and
    wanted to help)*  These shoots are not to be used in
    consumer speech. I
    even have a copy of the agreement supplied by yet another disgruntled Byun
    employee in reference to this exact shoot, the agreement clearly doesn’t
    state anything about web usage, ecommerce or a usage period. Even
    mentioning it in Byun’s declaration especially since I can see that the
    client is still using the images on her webpage to date may have
    inadvertently opened a can of worms. Complicating this issue the images
    have been used in ecommerce, a form of consumer usage, which I am sure the
    plaintiff was not paid for. Furthermore, neither the agency nor the model
    signed agreements in regards to commercial speech. Usage of a models
    likeness on a webpage for products available to the general public for
    purchase is: commercial speech. Generally, Byun’s “C” level clients cannot
    afford this on 10k budgets; while still making Byun a profit, so he just
    lets it happen. I have mountains of

    Given the nature of Byun’s well documented atrocious business tactics, his
    untruthful statements to everyone that he works with, his perjurious
    declaration and growingly frantic efforts to swindle talent, agents and
    artists and more than likely his legal representatives – the persona of
    Byun’s repulsive, cruel and premeditated actions and fraudulent
    representations will come to light in the federal court.  His skilled
    career of unprincipled bad conduct has irreversibly ended all future
    chances of success in the fashion industry.

    I truly don’t think *any* respectable model agency; artist agency or
    fashion/beauty companies are going to want to work with Byun, Nor should
    they just due to the fiduciary duty to their models, artists and companies.
    Knowledgeably working with a thief would in essence make one culpable
    should  future litigations arise.

    Frankly, I feel so bad for his legal
    representatives, hopefully Byun made
    fraudulent statements to them while procuring services and they can get out
    of the case, I doubt they will get paid by Byun. Defending him will be
    arduous & time consuming venture for any lawfirm.

    *Now to the provable factual stuff:*

    Enclosed below (**Email)is an email between Byun, and Lucy Fox a friend and
    person that later worked for Marie Claire Magazine, this email is in
    reference to the LASplash job, shot one week later *(the pending Federal
    case)* and represents a small sample of the fraudulent activities involved
    in this case, this email was given to me along with thousands more on a
    harddrive from a former Byun employee in 2010, whom Byun also cheated. The
    important significance of these emails being in hardrive form on a mail
    client based program archive is that they contain all the raw headers,
    making them provable as electronic discovery showing they were
    and sent through Byun’s IP address. Unfortunately, I only have from 2010
    back to 2005, about 60,000 emails.

    *** footnote: I found it incredibly interesting that the supposed emails
    that happen in early Jan of 2010 between Byun and Major do not exist on
    this original archive in an original email or in there entirety. It looks
    as if strings were added, omitted, deleted in the declaration emails.*


    *From: *”pictures@davidbyun.com”

    *Subject: LA*

    *Date: *January 2, 2010 3:28:57 PM EST

    *To: *lucy fox

    *Reply-To: *”pictures@davidbyun.com” pictures@davidbyun.com

    hi lucy

    another reason why I think having them at the set is a bit tricky is that

    I’m inviting some of the best talents in new york as more of a personal

    with really
    low rate.

    if there is a client then they would think that it’s a real job and that
    will create a very strange energy and also possibly ruin my relationship
    with the talent even after a long explanation.

    lets try not to have them here in nyc

    david byun


    001 917 407 5513

    This is just one email, but I have thousands of provable *(to the rigorous
    standards of electronic discovery, unlike Byun’s patched and more than
    likely fraudulent email strings)*emails that confirm a horrific depiction
    of Byun fraudulent business tactics, in particular him lying continually to
    clients & agencies to secure a job, at the expense of others.

    This example is just the tip of an extremely enormous iceberg. Once the
    documented proof is out, Byun’s believability,
    credibility and business
    will be compromised.  Byun calculated efforts to disenfranchise models,
    agencies, magazines and companies are soon to become public knowledge and
    perpetuate a never-ending onslaught of new lawsuits. This is purely because
    it is not the only instance he has done this to a model.

    Most seriously, Byun has also conned the government of the United States of
    America, in regards to his financial earnings, not declaring his income
    appropriately in his tax returns. I have hundreds of documented
    transactions that are not declared in taxes over 5 years, his deceit and
    unquenchable greed has even perpetuated to cheat the government that has
    offered him the opportunity to become a citizen of this country and do
    business here.

    So that it is clear, I plan to go public with all this information and make
    myself accessible to the plaintiff in this case and cases in the immediate
    future. I have
    absolutely no fear of retaliations from Byun, this is not a
    defamation case or libel, *all* the *facts* presented are *true*, Byun will
    never be able to prove otherwise. This statement will go out to nearly
    30,000 contacts through out the world of fashion, beauty, artistic
    management and model management industry in early September when everyone
    returns from summer holiday.

    68 of  137   – Illegal usage. Purposeful misappropriation of images,
    Civil Rights violations, False Endorsement, unfair competition.
    On March 26th 2012,  client Redken a subsidiary of L’Oreal wrote via
    email to David Byun letting him know they had interest in purchasing
    images shot by Byun from a recent editorial cover shoot for American
    Salon Magazine.
    The clients intended usage was to act as “supplement” to the Redken
    Chomatics Advertisement Campaign, “to show consumers” that the images
    were created using “Redken
    Chomatics”. (In essence consumer
    advertisement, POP, Trade, WWW)
    Terms were specified as:
    1 yr US usage,(no specificity, “buyout”) to images of three models.
    As of now, These images are used in in-salon posters, and on the
    internet worldwide as supplementation to the “Chomatics campaign”
    showing what products were used to create the images; “consumer
    Evidence shows Byun knew that he did not have the rights to sell usage
    of these images for consumer advertisement, and Byun never confirmed
    in writing that the images were actually secured contractually from
    models, agents,  Redken/L’Oreal.
    On the contrary, Byun implied all was well by repetitively requesting
    and negotiating payment, he deceived Redken and more importantly
    agreed to the terms of L’Oreal contract making himself culpable for
    his wrong doing.
    The images clearly fall out of the scope of an editorial cover shoot
    for American Salon because Redken expressed clear intended consumer
    usage when purchasing the images from Byun. Byun knew this was
    unsuffentant and still went ahead with the sale. Putting the name of
    the magazine on the images, does not erase the encroachment.
    The commercial assignment of the likeness would need a contractual
    agreement between the models and the cosmetic giant.  Thus, violating
    the rights of the models pictured in the images.
    Byun sold the images in Aug. 2012, they first appeared on the website
    for Redken shortly there after.
    The models pictured in posters and website are:
    Agent : Andrew Partington – Wilhelmina Models, New York City
    Agent: Jeffrey Kolsrud – Q Model Management, New York City
    Agent: Eric Granwehr – Major Model Management, New York City

    Attached is the link to the images:

    For samples of the posters, visit a Redken salon near you.


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