A lot of people have been asking where the “O’Chung” in O’Chung Photography comes from, so I thought I’d fill you all in on the story! 🙂
It all began… well, in a lot of different places. Which is kind of the story of my life. About 4 years ago I was in Michigan visiting family and friends in-between stints teaching missionary kids with Wycliffe in East Africa. I took a trip up to Holland, MI to say goodbye to some good friends before heading back overseas, but when I got there, they had a surprise.
“So… there’s a guy coming tonight that wants to meet you… wouldn’t it be funny if you hit it off?” my friend asked.
“Seriously?” I was incredulous. “No way! I’m leaving in a week to teach in Tanzania for TWO YEARS!” I couldn’t imagine how anything good could come of this.
Turns out we did hit it off – and spent almost two hours that night talking about our faith. But despite this, I was leaving for Africa and really didn’t know if or when I’d be coming back to the States long term. It wouldn’t be fair to try to start something under the circumstances. And besides, I just knew this amazing guy would be snatched up long before I got back to American soil! So despite his kind, friendly and prayerful Facebook messages over the next 18 months, I pretty much ignored him and tried to focus on where I was.
Unbeknownst to me, the guy had his own interesting back story. Several years before our ill-timed introduction, Sang Mark and his brother had moved to Seattle from Seoul, S. Korea to do a study-abroad program. When his family immigrated to Canada a few years later, the people translating their birth certificates got a bit confused and left it to the family to choose a single spelling for their last name. Although Jung would have been a lot more phonemically accurate, they settled on the popular spelling of Chung. (Who goes for accuracy when there’s a new culture to assimilate into, anyway?!)
Fast-forward a few years and over a couple continents. After those 18 months of learning more Swahili, teaching amazing kids and actively ignoring that friendly Korean who I’d met just before leaving, I realized that I’d most likely be heading back to the States permanently. I figured it might be time to see if said guy was still around and interested in talking. Turns out he was, so we started emailing, and texting… and then dating, once I was back on the continent. And eventually this sweet, patient guy with the last name of Chung asked me to marry him, and I said yes!
Soon after announcing our engagement, my mom made a cool 3D-printed key chain for me as a gift with my soon-to-be last name. When she showed it to her middle school students, they all looked at her and asked, “Wait! Her new last name will be O’Chung?”
Upon hearing the story, my now-husband SM and I laughed, and realized it was the perfect blend of his Korean heritage and my own European but almost non-existent Irishness. The name just seemed to stick, and when it came time to create a name for my photography business a few months into our marriage, the answer was obvious.
The name O’Chung encompassed not just a fun blend of last name mix-ups, but also the mixture of cultural experiences, international friends and multicultural lives that our marriage (and my passion for photography!) brought together. And just as we had both been welcomed in by families and individuals around the world when we were far from home, I hope that people from all languages and backgrounds will feel equally comfortable and completely themselves both in our home and in front of my camera.
So no matter where you’re from or how YOU spell your last name, we look forward to welcoming you into our lives as both clients and soon-to-be friends! Until then, I’ll be here editing pictures and practicing my pitiful Korean skills in a cool Irish accent… 😉