Reflections from Seoul, Korea

Perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve done to date is travel to Seoul, Korea for the first time with friends. Normally when I do get to travel it’s generally for work purposes or for a solo introspection trip [The Power of Time Off.] This time around though I ventured off with a couple of friends I met in college, made a lifetime of memories, and somehow along the way learned a few new things about myself as well as reigniting my passion for photography.

It’s Okay to Make Memories

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Pursuing anything you’re passionate about for a living comes at a cost: it starts to feel like work [Joys and FMLs of Freelancing.] Taking photos had become so associated with work and craft for me that I developed a creative block each time I took out my camera. In my mind every shot had to be well orchestrated, produced, and successful. I had forgotten the reason why I decided to photography in the first place: to tell stories. My stories, which emerge from the jumbling of life experiences and memories. You can always take the lovely picturesque images (see above slide gallery,) but how often do you get to make memories and silly discoveries. For instance did you know public trash cans are a rarity in Seoul?

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Or that the subways are amazingly clean and that everyone is on their mobile devices and rather not speak to one another.

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Or that you can get drunk off $1.00 USD?

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Hanging with People is Good for You (duh!)

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Especially as a photographer! I often refer back to this quote from Richard Avedon:

…I have to engage them. Otherwise there’s nothing to photograph. The concentration has to come from me and involve them…We share a brief, intense intimacy… when the sitting is over -when the picture is done -there’s nothing left except the photograph.

To engage your subject is to create a space where they feel liberated and free to be vulnerable with you. In order to do that as the person behind the camera you must be completely grounded and confident in your identity. As the photographer you create the solid foundation for intimacy by assessing your own vulnerabilities. I started to break down the wall shielding my identity earlier this year turn Improv 101 at UCB [Improv Makes You Better!] More than ever now I’m constantly working to open up my emotional intelligence.

It’s ironic how simple the solution is to be a better director. All you really have to do is be honest with yourself and be present in the moment. Not that hard right? Just exercise being actively present by surrounding your with good people who aren’t afraid to be in the moment as well.

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Or by catching up with old friends.

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and making new ones.

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Cheers Korea! Thanks for the memories, the introspection, and the mountains of delicious food!

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And now my inner food porn Instagram photographer will leave you all now with your mouth-watering.

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