Connections

Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Eric came to town to visit and teach a mini workshop with me here in Seoul. He stayed for a couple of days, and somewhere during the couple of days I really had to have a think about photography. 

What it is for me, now. 

Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.

These photos were taken while we sat in an upscale cafe in the Hongdae district of Seoul. We talked about photography for a couple of hours. We often critique each other’s work. We often say don’t post this and don’t post that. 

“You post too much.”

Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.

“It isn’t your best.” 

Maybe.

But, what is my best? I’m not sure I care about what my best photos are. Photography has become something much different for me. “Finding” my best photo really isn’t what it is about. 

Not anymore. 

Cindy. Seoul, Korea.
Cindy. Seoul, Korea.

Eric’s girlfriend Cindy. It was the first time I had met her that weekend. Interesting the people we meet through a mutual hobby. 

Photography for me has become that. I don’t care about photos that don’t mean something to mean. I don’t care about photos that don’t represent something to me. 

Areum and Cindy. Seoul, Korea.
Areum and Cindy. Seoul, Korea.

A memory or an emotion. 

A feeling or a connection. 

Not someone else’s, but my own. I’ve become selfish. 

Areum. Seoul, Korea.
Areum. Seoul, Korea.

I’ve become selfish in that the photos I want to take aren’t for anyone else. I don’t give a fuck about pleasing anyone else. It isn’t the point, nor should it have ever been. 

I won’t be the best photographer in the world this way, nor do I care. I care about memories. 

My memories. 

Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.
Eric. Seoul, Korea.

A photo used to be like an object to me. It was something materialistic. Street photography was like shopping. I was just going out trying to find the best sale or product. A photo wasn’t any different to a t-shirt I bought and forgot about or threw out. 

A material thing. 

Me getting my pores cleaned. Seoul, Korea.
Me getting my pores cleaned. Seoul, Korea.

People matter. Relationships matter.

Friendships, 

matter. 

The photo above of me represents a moment I would have never thought to have captured before. Why ask someone to take this photo of me? Well, I will remember this someone and this moment. I want to remember the relationship; the moment. 

Seoul, Korea.
Seoul, Korea.
Me. Seoul, Korea.
Me. Seoul, Korea.

These photographs aren’t difficult to take. You don’t need anything. You don’t need a ten thousand dollar Leica to take them. 

The photographs aren’t difficult to take, but, the moments are fleeting. They are moments I’ll never get back.

Isn’t that why we have cameras? Photography?

Harry. Seoul, Korea.
Harry. Seoul, Korea.
Pyeonghun. Seoul, Korea.
Pyeonghun. Seoul, Korea.
Chad. Seoul, Korea.
Chad. Seoul, Korea.

Three of my favorite photographs from the past year are far from the “best.” Maybe Eric would say they aren’t worth posting. Maybe I would have thought so before. 

We have cameras to help remember. These are my friends. Important people to me. 

These moments are important. 

Because they are mine. 

And moments I want to remember.

We, as photographers, spend our time trying to find beauty and meaning in external things. We search for moments to capture and call ourselves documenters. Why? Why anguish over the search to find other people’s interesting moments while forsaking your own, the ones that should be most precious to you.

Areum. Seoul, Korea.
Areum. Seoul, Korea.

Looking for moments outside of the ones I live interests me very little anymore. Making commentaries even less. 

Distractions.They just distract me from looking at, appreciating, and photographing the things closest to me. The people. 

They really do and really will, 

mean something. 

Seoul, South Korea. 

August 2014.

Hiatus

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

I haven’t posted for quite some time. An extended Hiatus. Things have been busy, and things changing fast. Moved to a different city. I’ve been working on a couple of long blog posts that I hope will be finished soon. I’m moving a bit in that direction now. More of a story. These photos are from something called Turning Points. 

No soul searching or anything else too dramatic. Just living and working. Taking some photos when I feel like doing so. Somehow, it feels the right way to do it. People tell me I don’t post enough anymore. 

Maybe so. 

Maybe I’m just too busy living. 

Seoul, South Korea. 

August, 2014.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

 

Busan: Round 2

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I’m not sure what it is about Busan that I like so much. Maybe somehow it reminds me of home. Smell of the ocean, the salt water, the fish. People always take photos of the fish market. Me too, I guess.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Recently, I’ve been drawn to the parts of Korea that aren’t the people. I spent years here photographing all the wrong things. Going back to Busan this time, I wasn’t much interested in the people, or even the “scenery.”

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
DSC00427
Busan, South Korea.

The last time I came to Busan, I took two cameras. One was a bigger Fujifilm one, the other a small Sony compact camera I have written about before. It was one I had found in my aunt’s car. The photos from the compact – the snapshots as you might call them – were the photos I liked the most. I found myself wishing I had used it more.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I rarely talk about cameras anymore, but, I find it hard to not talk about using a compact camera. I don’t think I’ll ever use something else again and don’t think I need to. Somehow, when I use a compact camera the photo I take matches the emotion I felt when I decided to take it. I got this Sony RX100III after the Sony compact I was using before (from 2006) died. I wouldn’t have bought another one if the first hadn’t died.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

This time when I went to Busan I took nothing but a compact. I was there doing something else so I didn’t have much time but I really wanted another chance to take some photos at the Jagalchi Fish Market. This time, with a compact.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I’ve seen thousands of photos from this market. They are always the same photos of women and men working the market. I took the same photos myself. I wasn’t much interested by the people this time. The fish interested me more. The last time I had went I took photos of the people, yet, it was a single photo of some fish I thought was the most interesting.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

The market itself is full of vendors selling similar things. The “town” around the market is like a scene from Gibson’s Chiba City. The ground is covered with fish and other things to buy. The walls are covered with odd and worn posters.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Every time I came here, I ended up having photos of the people, but never was able to capture what I felt was the mood of the place. The photos I took never reminded me of the way I felt being there. I couldn’t “smell” the place.

I think I just thought too much about it.

Busan, South Korea. July 2014.

Stills

Hongdae district, Seoul, South Korea.
Hongdae district, Seoul, South Korea.

Been a while since I’ve posted anything, and will probably be a while before I do again. I often say I’m going to take a break and rarely do, ha. Definitely needed this time though.

Working on too many things and not nearly enough time. No time to shoot, no time to post, no time to look for models, no time to time in general. As a wise man once told me its best to live first, take photos of yourself living.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

I realized that while I spent my first four years in Korea photographing the people I missed too much. Rarely did I stop and see the shit around me that made this place unique. When I went back to Canada and reviewed the photos I had taken in Korea something was seriously missing.

I couldn’t feel the place.

Many “photography” people I know don’t get photos like the above. The don’t get photos like the below. The don’t get why I’m taking it when I do and they don’t get that I can’t explain why I did.

I take them, because they will remind me of walking in Korea and being here. They are what I saw and in some ways how I felt. The buildings, the signs, the adverts. The dirty streets and the clean ones. The food, and of course, the people.

Still life photos were never really my thing, but I find myself taking them more often then anything else these now. Maybe there is a project there, I don’t know.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

I need to take some time to figure it out.

Peace for now ;)

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

Mobile

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

People often talk about carrying cameras all the time. Or mobile photographers often say “the best camera is the one you have with you.”

The same, really. I don’t think it matters much as long as you have a camera available when you feel like taking a picture. Lately, I haven’t been doing much street photography. I’ve been too lazy to carry a camera around or to take one out even if I do have one.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

Got me to thinking a little bit. I had taken some photos with my phone over the past five or so months in Korea. I hadn’t even bothered to look at most of them.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

Weird that. It wasn’t for any other reason than that I had forgot about them. My friend was looking through my phone and said something like “some of these are pretty decent.”

So I started having a look. I would maybe take one photo with my phone every couple of weeks and then forget about them soon after.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

Perhaps no masterpieces, but I’m not sure that is the point. Looking through the photos I really started to remember the things I’d done over the past couple of months. All of a sudden I was remembering doing things and going places just by one photo I took that day.

Near Seoul, South Korea.
Near Seoul, South Korea.

Thats sorta the point of mobile photography for me. Taking photos as I walk around or go from place to place. Its just about the only street photography I do anymore.

Its ironic that mobile phones make photography much quicker and it took me months to go back and look at most of these. That said, glad I finally did.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Not much of a point to make here aside from the fact that I will probably take a little more photos with my phone or carry a camera around a little more. No excuse not to aside from laziness.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Maybe none of these are my best photos, but I do like some of them. I like what they represent. In a lot of ways they represent the way I used to take photos before I got “serious”.

I kinda like that.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Over the next couple of days I’ll add a mobile photography set to my projects page.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Crazy these fucking things. My whole life could be run from there, ha.

 

Contacts: Hongdae Portrait

Near Hongdae District, Seoul, South Korea.
Near Hongdae District, Seoul, South Korea.

The second in a series of mini contact sheets. In this case, it was a portrait I took near the Hongdae District of Seoul at a pretty dingy little bar I happened into. This guy, was sitting on the side of the table opposite this poster. I’m not sure why, but I thought the lines of his face worked pretty well with the opening of the “mouth” of the poster. Being another foreigner in Seoul, I had an immediate in so I just asked if I could take a photo with him and the poster. He just turned around in his seat at first, so I asked him to get on the other side of the table moving the friends that were already there. By this point, everyone was laughing and trying to figure out why I wanted to take a picture.

I was using this small pocket camera that you might have seen in previous posts. I had it around my neck, but I’m not sure the guy or his friends thought much of it. I told him I thought he kinda reminded me of someone from a Scandinavian crime drama, ha.

Hongdae district, Seoul.
Hongdae district, Seoul.

After the first picture that was a little further back, I knew we were comfortable enough so I got much closer and grabbed his head gently and put it at a bit of a different angle. I told him to try and not smile like he had in the first but maybe just grin a bit.

Near Hongdae District, Seoul.
Near Hongdae District, Seoul.

I was happy with the second and as his friends were starting to get impatient I thanked him, bought a round, and in fact we have become quite good friends. For that, it has become one of my favorite recent photos.

Seoul, South Korea.

The Benefits Shooting Both Film and Digital in Street Photography

Click to read more
Digital. C/ Jt White

An article I did for my buddy Eric, on his website. The original article can be found here:

http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2014/06/02/the-benefits-shooting-both-film-and-digital-in-street-photography/

This guest blog post is by JT White, a street photographer based in Seoul, Korea.

JT: I get asked a lot about film versus digital.

I use both film and digital cameras. Which, depend really depends on a lot of things. It can depend on my mood or on the lens I want to use. I don’t think I really have much of an aesthetic style as opposed to a way of shooting. I decide what camera to use depending on what I have and what my subject is going to be.

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