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.
Sitting around with a group of non-photography friends the other day one of them all of a sudden asked me why I posted a “‘normal” colour photo of them on Facebook. I thought it was a weird fucking question, considering the photo was just taken while they were just standing in a stairwell after playing a local gig. I took a photo with a small camera I had and one with my phone. I posted the one with my phone as I thought it would be something they would like more considering it was more “normal” as he said.
“No man, when I saw the photo you posted I was like, what the fuck? Looks like the same photos I always see. I was disappointed man.”
I thought this was funny. All artists in one form or another the conversation quickly morphed into talking about styles and the importance of having your own.
“I think I’m going to go a different way with my photos. More naturally documentary style..”
I said this without thinking. I had taken some photos the day before of my friend’s band. The photos I took were quite normal, moody lighting and in colour. Photojournalist style, I suppose you could say. I wasn’t really sure if I liked them or not, but somehow I felt like they would be more appealing than high contrast, compact camera, flash, exposure compensation tweaked, monochrome stuff I usually do.
Another friend (pictured) stopped me as I was explaining my idea to become a little more “run of the mill” and just said,
“But, if you look at the famous guys, the Magnum guys…”
“You live in Korea where every photographer is famous only for their ability to be able to copy any style they see. They, for the most part, have NO voice of their own. You have your own voice, or at least I thought you fucking did.”
I didn’t get another word in for a while. What was meant to be a coffee to talk about plans for a concert the following week turned into an intervention. My own intervention.
In the end, what I took out of the 2 hour long conversation was the importance of not necessarily following the crowd, but following your gut. The point that in particularly struck me the most was when the guy that had been with me during the shoot the day before said,
“Yesterday, you looked quite different when you were shooting. Usually, with the small cameras you look as though you’re shooting with your heart. Yesterday, you looked like you were trying to shoot with your brain. That’s not you man, not at all.”
“Trees withstand the hardest things nature throw at them and never waver. Trees loose their leaves in winter, but they never loose their gumption. When winter comes, they stand strong as they know winter is just a part of a cycle that will once again bring spring.”
Things change, always. Things are cyclical, always.
A year ago looking at a similar scene out of my Toronto window felt completely different. Living with people but being alone. Feeling alone. Having nothing left to take this picture.
Things always come back around. A year later and I see winter entirely differently. Things are in my favor. The coming cold represents nothing more than the need for a coat.
I don’t care much for cameras anymore. Three years ago, my blog was all about gear. All about cameras. It’s true, I really don’t care anymore. I suppose a representation of something much bigger than a camera. Using an old Ricoh GRD3 donated by a friend I remembered having one before.
A new appreciation for everything now. Something as simple as a small camera represents a change in mentality. I’ve learned to appreciate.
I think that’s a word I didn’t know the meaning of until recently.
Sometimes it takes things to come around a couple of times in order to really appreciate their value.
After a bit of a joke between friends, my boy Ryan and I decided it would be an interesting experiment to double expose the first couple of photos on a roll of film. We would take the photos at different times, not together just with a vague idea of what was on the other side.
It was one of the more fun things I’ve done with a camera lately. Some of the photos we even triple exposed. While it’s not something I would say go out and do haphazardly, it was a lot of fun. Plus, a good way to spend an afternoon with a buddy!
After watching a couple of disturbing videos today, I’m fucking astonished at what’s happened to the kids of this generation. Astonished.
Seeing kids act out video games on the streets. Knocking out unsuspecting teachers and laughing about it. Really fucking funny.
Whose to blame? Probably all of us. This generation is defined by fine lines of pressure and stress relief. Video games relieve stress.
If you’re pissed off in a game like GTA, you can punch a teacher. Knock him out. It’s funny and helps relieve stress.
How can a 14 year old differentiate between the video game and real life. Why are they being asked to? A18 ratings don’t stop kids from playing these games. Ratings are a fucking cop out.
It’s easy for me to say I would have been smarter than these kids. It’s easy for me to say I would have easily been able to see the difference between the real world and the one being played out on a screen.
Nothing is easy anymore.
It’s also easy to say that the kids doing these things are hooligans or “gangstas.” Fuck that, they were all once just kids on the playground. They learned to act like this.
The kid in this photo is a great kid. I know him well.
That being said, the non nonchalant-ness of a gesture may not be that serious but I remember laughing it off as I took the photo.