My most recent trip was also one of my milestone trips. It was my first time to Asia and I had always wanted to go to Korea. I was there to shoot some videos of the main tourist spots so it was helpful that the shot list was all the places I would want to visit on a trip anyway! In between shooting the video, I was able to capture a few photographs that focused on three areas.
1. The Magic of Markets
2. The Perfect Light
3. Stillness in Tradtion
Now normally, I wouldn't post process a set of photos differently for a country but I thought I would play on these ideas.
Like most places, I fall in love with their markets and that's one of the main areas I wanted to focus on. I think you can get a real sense of the culture by visiting a market or two. Seoul is known for their many, many markets wether for cheap fashion, food, electronics, or used lightbulbs. You often get lost in the many alleyways or non-linear construction of the markets.
With my approach to photographing it, I wanted to play at these condensed stalls and shops filled with a variety of products of different smells, colors and sizes. A little magic in everyday life. Therefore, the Gwangjang Market photos you can see have lifted blacks, increased vibrancy, high contrast and depth. I wanted to bring the ordinary to life- giving each booth its own personality. Digging in to the shop owners and their workers as something out of the ordinary in their ordinary lives.
I took a slightly different approach when shooting street photos, specifically the morning shots. That's always the best light in my opinion. Waking up with a city, having the vacant buildings only as structures, with light beginning to reflect and creep up on them. How are we to interpret that beautiful feeling we get when we wake up with the light slowly hitting your face? I went out with my insanely horrible jet lag one morning around 5 am and took those photos. I brought them back to my hotel and lowered contrast, boosted highlights, lifted shadows and played around with the green and blue curves.
There is always a beauty in stillness. Photography is still as an art form, but when a photo has a mood that's still- it is a different interpretation of the art form all together. I feel I can capture that beauty when I look at my photographs and want to know more about it. Therefore, in contrast to my other photographs, I wanted to have a completely different defining look with the traditional shrines and temples I visited. Since they are all quite touristy now, it was a challenge to capture it in its silence and quiet moments. I took away all the color, so we could focus.
You can focus in on stillness, looking at each aspect of it and a monochromatic look, in my opinion, sometimes helps with that (depending on the scenario of course!). It takes away color for you to see light, shadows and the subject differently. You begin to pay attention to the minutia- the ripples of the water, the curve of a tree and the symmetry or dissymmetry in composition.
All in all. I think these three different styles sum up my trip to Korea and first trip to Asia. Magical, hectic, busy but a specific time for stillness and reflection amongst all the chaos.