Justine Chiu: Working with Hues and Human Resources

Justine Chiu, Human Resources Management ‘12

These days, I scroll through a page of Facebook news feed faster than 1/125th of a second. I never know what I’m looking for, and I get bored quickly. But, a couple times, a photo has stopped me in my shutter-speed tracks. The photo had a hazy, romantic quality to it. The colours were soft and dream-like, but unlike the universal Instagram filters, this glowed in a special way that seemed unique to the photographer. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen her watermarked name.

Justine Chiu graduated this past summer, but her shutterbug presence still lingers around Ryerson.

What did you study and why?

I originally came to Ryerson to study Accounting under the suggestion of my parents. My mother had dreams for me to work for the Big Four and becoming a Chartered Accountant. However, I had a heavy interest in cultural anthropology and political science as a result of attending University of Toronto for a year before coming to Ryerson.

After a year at the Ted Rogers School of Management, I chose Accounting as my major but switched over to Human Resources (HR) in my third year. I made that decision because I found the study of HR to be built on many theories and concepts found in my anthropology and political science experiences, but with a business perspective. I guess you could say I found “the perfect medium”.

What extracurriculars were you involved in?

I joined Jeux Du Commerce Central (JDCC) in my second year of university as VP of Marketing. It was my first experience with event management in a team of high-calibre students. It was also my first taste of Ryerson student life, and it was there that I learned the importance of extracurriculars in an undergraduate student’s experience.

My involvement with JDCC was all consuming, to the point where my academics were suffering. The next year, I didn’t join any student groups and focused on improving my grades. It was a lonely existence, and I longed for some sense of community. I decided that in my final year that I would add a dash of extracurriculars to liven up my nose-to-books life, and I am so glad I did.

I joined the Organizational Behaviour Case Competition and it was my first experience presenting in front of a panel of industry professionals. Professional presentation skills, I learned, are a critical skill to continually develop. I’m glad I did it.

Later, I joined the Human Resources Students Association as a website administrator because I have built modest websites since I was 10 years old.

I also used my photography skills to shoot some student group events, and through that I kept alive my passion for photography.

Where did you go after graduation?

Within a week after writing my very last exam of my undergraduate career, I interviewed for and landed a job at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, but in HR. You could say I pleased both my mother’s dreams of my working at the Big 4, and my own dreams of working in HR. Everyone’s happy!

I noticed you’re involved with TEDx this year?

I originally joined TEDx as an alumni member, as an event and marketing photographer. I joined before I knew I’d find a job after graduation. But when I landed a job, I didn’t want to leave because I really cared about the brand of TEDx and I wanted to be part of the experience.

What’s your role and the responsibilities with TEDx?

As a marketing photographer, I created some photo essays on select speakers (mainly due to my availability) and they’re published on the TEDxRyersonU blog.

How did you become interested in photography?

I developed an interest in photography in high school when I had a lot of friends who played in bands. And by association, bands play in dark, low-light settings like bars and clubs. I began to work part-time in retail and acquired all the equipment that was necessary to shoot concerts. Eventually I moved on to photograph sports, events, and portraits because I loved interacting with people.

My greatest joy is transforming someone who hates having their photograph taken, to someone who can’t stop being in front of the camera.

How do you help a camera-shy person feel comfortable?

I transform a person by simply talking to them and finding a common ground to expand. The conversation and interactions come first, the picture-taking is secondary.

Who inspires you?

I look up to Lara Jade because she is, not only a very talented international fashion photographer, she is a great teacher and really understands photography as a business first, which I appreciate because it is a realistic projection of the industry.

The dreamy, hazy imagery are inspired by the work of Brooke Shaden, who does a lot of conceptual art that are very fantasy-like and just other-worldly. I also appreciate that she shares a lot of her journey on her blog, so I like that she stands for a higher level of transparency.

Follow Justine with her photo essays at http://justinechiu.com/