It`s that time of year again when everyone is scrambling to complete things and trying to prepare mentally for the new year. For photographers, it`s a time to look back on their year and present images that stood out for them. I disliked the process in the past because I thought it presented opportunities for me to realise that my work wasn`t of value, that I lacked progress, and that I didn`t have anything worthwhile to say.
What has changed? Well, experiences occurred.
I`m writing this with the utmost humility to deter any hint of subtle advertising in this piece.
Instead, I`m seeking to stimulate more rumination here while sharing images that I enjoyed making this year.
If I were to choose a central theme for 2018, it would be that of self-reflection. I decided at the start of 2018 to spend more time on this endeavor, and it has proven to be invaluable. I feel more connected, alert, and dare I say, spiritual? I found this to have had quite an impact on the shifting of my paradigm. I find it exciting when I can uncover new abilities, strengths or perspectives that were previously unknown to me.
Spaces play a significant role in accumulating experiences, and ultimately inspiration. Yes, as a photographer, I seek aesthetics, light, various compositions, and moments in an environment. I find it more useful, however, to pursue spaces or environments for the sake of accumulating new experiences, learning something new about the relationship that people have with their own particular environment (which in turn teaches me more about people), and how I react to wherever I find myself at any given time. This task proved somewhat challenging this year because it required regularly viewing things the way they really are, as opposed to how I wish they were.
Because of this, I started researching the philosophy of Stoicism because of this. It has helped with “seeing” as well as with anxiety. With a more quieted mind, an honest sense of reality, and a more unobstructed curiosity, I feel more comfortable with playing with the spaces I briefly occupy. I should also acknowledge the daily benefits of 20mins of meditation before work. I never knew how incredibly difficult it was to not think about anything in absolute silence. It has taken me 9 months to extend my meditation time from 5min to 20min. I`m hoping to get it up to an hour within the next year.
I`ve lived in Seoul for over 6 years now and being a photographer in this energetic city has placed me in the path of interesting people, people who are at different stages of their lives and who are advancing into new phases. I developed a new love for portraits in 2018 because of who I was able to have in front of my lens. I`m thankful to each and every one of you who have gifted me with the time to learn how to be patient and to induce a process of getting people to reveal their best selves.
My opinion and approach to portraiture have undergone a shift. To reduce Family, Engagement, Couple or Wedding photography to various poses and locations is incredibly meretricious. I believe portraiture is not merely something that happens when a session starts. It`s whatever the person or couple chooses to bring along with them on that day. Fears, insecurities, couple dynamics, playfulness and self-perceptions could be the flavours of the day. More often than not, these develop independently of the shoot, and it is my responsibility as the photographer to identify with these various personalities constructively. Being mindful of what type of mindset I`m bringing along to the interaction has manifested as a great approach to yielding authentic portraits.
Creating portraits is an exchange of energies between subject and photographer. It`s fascinating to what extent people tell their life experiences through body language, facial expressions, and by how they interact with their surroundings or loved ones.
In closing, I`d like to thank everyone who played a role in creating my favourite images presented here. I`m also grateful that 2018 has reminded me to be kind to myself, too.
If you`re reading this, I hope you have a beautiful Christmas with loved ones and I wish you all the best in 2019.
See you then