Geneva Boyett on Asian-American representation, sustainability, and telling stories through photography
"Seeing people that looked more like me and were cooking foods that I remembered from my childhood made me more comfortable with my culture. It made me miss it and want to reconnect with it"
G: Thank you so much for being here with us today, Geneva. We're so excited to chat with you. To start, can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are?
My name is Geneva. I am a 27-year-old Chinese-American photographer living in Chicago. I was born, and spent most of my life, in Houston, Texas, where my family still is and where I met my partner, but we moved up to Chicago five years ago because he was pursuing a graduate degree in architecture. So I took a chance on launching my wedding photography business here around the same time.
H: You mentioned earlier that through reflection, the relationship you have towards your identity as a Chinese-American has shifted, can you talk to us a bit more about that?
Yeah, so I am a second-generation Chinese-American. My parents immigrated here first in their twenties and then had me in the states. When I was younger, that identity was a part of me that I didn't want people to pay a lot of attention to because I kind of just wanted to blend into a predominantly white world, but as I've gotten older, and especially in the past couple of years of doing some reflecting, it's really been something that I've reclaimed and I've become proud of.
G: Thank you for sharing that! I’m curious if there are any particular experiences, tools, or resources you have used in the past to reclaim that identity?
Honestly, transitioning the content that I consumed from being predominantly white creators, movies, films, and artists to bringing in more Asian artists and seeing people that looked more and more like me made me want to reconnect with it.
Seeing people that looked more like me and were cooking foods that I remembered from my childhood made me more comfortable with my culture. It made me miss it and want to reconnect with it. Anyone who knows me knows I love to cook, and I believe food, and Asian food, in particular, is a huge part of how I relate to that Chinese identity. I do think there's a direct correlation between the representation in the media and how I personally grappled with my Asian identity. I’m very influenced by the content and media in front of me, and when I was younger, that made me want to minimize my ethnicity.
I watch a lot of YouTube, and now I've been watching a lot of Korean creators, Chinese creators, and other Asian creators on YouTube, as well as in books and movies. Even just seeing them live their lives has been a really sweet experience for me. I don't know these people in real life, but just having that visibility in front of me has made me want to take more ownership of my own ethnicity and culture.