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Leo Kim raising $24K to publish his "St Paul Serenity" photo project

On a sunny Sunday August afternoon last year, Leo Kim waded into the stream in downtown St. Paul's Mears Park for a new angle on a scene that had become familiar to him--maybe overly so--after many attempts at photographing it.

"What if I were a squirrel?" Kim asked himself. "What would I see?"

The resulting picture--an intimate view of natural forces set into motion in the city's midst--inspired Kim to embark on a nine-month quest to capture more images of surprising serenity within the city of St. Paul.

Now he's trying to raise $24,000 to publish a book of 96 photos he's calling "Saint Paul Serenity." That's twice what his earlier photo-book of North Dakota landscapes cost, but Kim decided he wants to keep the money in the local economy by using a Minneapolis printer instead of shipping the work overseas. An event on Thursday launches his fundraising effort, which he says is so far going more slowly than did the North Dakota project. He's hoping to get enough book orders to have "Serenity" printed by Christmas.

Kim, a professional photographer, lived in Minneapolis for 15 years before a 2005 move to Lowertown near Mears Park. He found he hadn't created a cohesive series of Minneapolis images--"Someday I will," he vows--but he readily discovered the serene scenes he went looking for around St. Paul.

"The city has done a great job with the landscape," says Kim, an immigrant of Korean heritage who came to Minnesota via Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, and Austria--not to mention time spent studying in North Dakota. He says he aspired to become an architect or city planner but couldn't bear to be in meetings. Instead, he seeks out St. Paul's wild side, often finding "I have the place to myself, only a stone's throw from downtown.

"It's amazing."

Source: Leo Kim, Leo Kim Photography
Writer: Chris Steller
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