Ever since moving to Iksan, I have been spending a lot more time with Josh than I ever did before. We have known each other for few years and hung out in Seoul mostly on weekends. One of the first questions that students and colleagues in Iksan asked was how I met Josh. How did we meet?
Frankly, neither Josh nor I remembered right away. All I remember is that we clicked right away and started collaborating and just hanging out a lot more back in Seoul. Josh dropped by my place after work yesterday to grab a beer. We talked about life as a photographer and a director. Then I really started to wonder how we met.
So I did some research on my end. By research, I mean digging through my memories and any tangible records (such as FB messages). I failed to find any Facebook messages or KakaoTalk messages from when we first met. However, I started to remember how we met, somewhat clearly.
It was back in 2014. I had just moved to Korea and was looking for camera shops. I realized from the past that it was nice to have a single shop that I build a solid relationship with. I don’t remember how but I read Josh’s post on Facebook about a small camera shop called Hi-Camera in Seoul. I remember calling Pyeonghoon, one of the owners of Hi-Camera and asking about a camera. At this point, I had already messaged Josh on Facebook telling him that I liked his pictures. But I remember asking him more about the camera shop. (Back then, I wasn’t so sure how people developed friendships online and thus didn’t really imagine getting close to someone via FB chat). Even still today, Josh seems to be pretty good at responding to random messages in regards to photography. On the contrary, I suck at it (even the news interviews are hard for me).
I remember meeting Josh near my house one day. It was a sunny yet slightly chilly day. I believe it was sometime in March or so. I remember meeting him and thinking ‘he’s much shorter than I thought!’ We shook hands and sat on a bench in front of Gasan Digital Complex subway station. This part gets slightly fuzzy: I am somewhat certain that I met him on that day because I bought a Ricoh GR3 from him (which I later sold it back to him). From that point and on, I remember shooting a lot with him in Seoul.
Surprisingly, Josh keeps photography very “low-key” in Seoul. He doesn’t show off or advertise his pictures or do workshops. He lives a chill life in Iksan, a small city three hours away from Seoul, and continues his thing. He doesn’t seem to be really bothered by what other people think. Such confidence, I can only imagine, comes from having his own definite style; something that won’t change because of a camera or a place. It’s a long process of trial and error and just experimenting with one’s color palette to find a style. On the other hand, I have been messing around with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras mostly for travel photography. The only ‘street photography’ I took barely came from my chunky cameras; most of them were from my iPhone.
After selling my beloved Fuji X-Pro 2 to Josh, I felt relieved. I sold it because I was saving up money for my upcoming film (wonders of an independent documentary filmmaker. Yay). At the same time, I wanted to really transition in to street photography. The cameras that I use now – Leica X1, Canon IXUS 900TI, and Ricoh GR – are all from Josh.
He is someone that I could proudly vouch for and I believe he will and has done the same for me. When I wonder about my life, life as a film director and a photographer, he answers with advice as not only as a close friend, but as a *hyeong (형).
*hyeong is a Korean word for older brother.