A couple of days ago, I wrote about not identifying with being Canadian. I wrote about being a Newfoundlander first, a Canadian second. I wrote about loving Seoul and Korea.
Yesterday, Canada experienced something that it hadn’t at least since I have been alive. I studied about a similar event in the 70s during school but that isn’t the same, surely.
I wrote on Monday about not knowing what made me Canadian.
Yesterday, maybe I figured out that I am more Canadian than I had thought. I sat in a cafe just outside of Seoul glued to my laptop watching Peter Mansbridge from the CBC giving updates on a situation that was ongoing. I hadn’t heard Peter Mansbridge for a long time. I had forgotten what a great anchor he is.
I watched at first as a matter of habit. I listened while I did other things.
After twenty or so minutes I couldn’t do anything but watch. Listening to stories of the deceased reservist who had dreamed about being a real soldier. Listening to the story of a 29 year police veteran turned security official who took out the gunman before he had a chance to reach members of parliament. I listened, and I watched.
Before I knew it, it was 5AM and I was still watching.
While I said I struggled to feel Canadian on Monday, I had no trouble yesterday.
I love where I am and what I’m doing. I love being in Korea. I love the bustle. I love the hustle. Everything about this place screams at me to stay.
And I will.
Even with all that, it will never be Newfoundland. I used to dream about leaving when I was young. I always felt maligned by the fact I was born in such a place. I hated it, even. Wanted to lie about it.
There is really something about it. When I went back last summer I remember sitting on this beach and just looking at the water. I don’t know why, I had been on this beach thousands of times since childhood.
Easy to take such things for granted.
Living abroad, people always ask me where I’m from. I never say Canada. Of course, I’m Canadian, but I don’t necessarily feel Canadian. I don’t know what distinguishes me as one. I never start a sentence with, “well in Canada we…”
I do often start them with,
“In Newfoundland we..”
It took me a long time to figure this out, but as much as I’m certainly a Canadian by law,
As much as I hate talking about cameras, if I could only have one, it would be this one. I don’t feel that excited about taking photos anymore. In fact, I rarely even do. Just a lull, I suppose. Even in saying that, every time I pick up this camera I wanna do nothing else but take photos. People often misunderstand me that I hate cameras. I don’t hate cameras, in fact, I love this one. I rant about gear because I don’t think people need to have every camera they see. Cameras don’t matter, in that you don’t need the newest and best to take a good photo. People’s cameras are more often than not better than they are no matter what they use.
I really do love this camera, because it makes me want to take photos. Through all of the cameras I have owned, it is the only one that has remained. Broken LCD and hardly any paint left it still keeps on taking photos. It still makes me want to take photos.
I’ve got nothing to say, anymore. No words to write. I’m sorry I don’t post much, just nothing that needs being said. I don’t carry my camera with me often or even at all. The only photos I take are with my phone. I guess that is how it goes sometimes.
I went through something similar a couple of years ago and I ended up shooting one of my favorite groups of photos, Labyrinth, in Toronto.
I don’t hate colour. I even occasionally shoot in colour.
This photo for example. I like her jacket. I like those colours. Reminds me of being a kid in Newfoundland, where every dude around wore these colours.
Plus, she just died her hair. She asked for a colour photo.
Colour, black and white, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I kinda just go with it now. Sometimes I dig colour. Sometimes I dig black and white. Most of my photos are black and white, sure, but they don’t have to be. Just happens to be how it turned out. Not really a decision I made somewhere along the way.
So, I do shoot in colour. Sometimes.
Oh, and for those who have emailed me and asked if I’m really using a Samsung Galaxy S2 to take some of these photos the answer is, yes. These two for example.
Why? Because my iPhone took a bath. Can’t be bothered to carry around a camera. That Sony RX100iii is too fat for the pockets of my jeans these days. I’d rather not walk around with a bulge that I wasn’t born with.
I’ve been busy. Busy with what? I am not even sure I know. Cooking ramen?
I’m a big fan. This one is of the black noodle variety.
It was good. It is always good. Maybe not busy with that so much.
Just busy living. Life.
Working and eating and all that.
I learned a bit of paper folding. That has been fun.
I’m not that good, though.
I broke my phone. Been using an old Galaxy S2 (these photos are all from that). How is it? I’m not sure. I’m not sure I care, ha. It has made me realize I care about as much about phones now as I do about cameras.
Sometimes I walk. Korea isn’t all big buildings it seems.
Sometimes I see fish. When I walk.
I usually eat those, too.
I usually drink coffee after that.
I drink a lot of coffee.
I got a letter. That was exciting. It is from the Eric Kim. You might not have known we are quite close.
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.
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.”
“It isn’t your best.”
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.
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.
A memory or an emotion.
A feeling or a connection.
Not someone else’s, but my own. I’ve become selfish.
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.
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.
People matter. Relationships 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.
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?
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.
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.