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.
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!